Coltart responds to 81 percent O level failure rate

By Staff Reporter

Zimbabwe was plunged into serious debate after 81.6 percent of children failed their 2012 Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) Ordinary Level examinations, a drop from the previous year’s equally shocking 80.5 percent.

David Coltart
David Coltart

Only 31,767 pupils out of 172,698 countrywide passed in five subjects with Zimsec attributing the decline to an increase in the number of students who registered for the exams, which went up by over 20,000 from last year.

Education, Sport and Culture Minister Senator David Coltart reacted to the news and gave the following reaction.

It is important to put the O level results in context. When I took office on the 13th February 2009 the O level exams had not even been marked, never mind announced. The O level pass rate for 2008 was 14.44% for the 207212 children who wrote.

The pass rate for 2012 is 18,4% for the 268854 children who wrote. So whilst these results are very serious they must be out in their proper context. Enormous damage has been done to our education system in the last decade.

For example we lost 20000 teachers in 2007 and 2008 and the damage done by that alone to a generation of children cannot be easily undone. Whilst we have made significant strides in stabilizing our education system much remains to be done.

The same applies to the other exams. For example in 2009, 272397 children wrote Grade 7 exams and the pass rate was 20.11%. That has now risen in 2012 to 292375 children writing and the pass rate is now 31.5%.

In 2008 33985 children wrote A levels with a pass rate of 67.21% which has risen in 2012 to 36678 children writing at a pass rate of 82.09%. This gradual overall progress has been achieved in an environment of minimal Government funding for education outside of the payment of teachers.

Whilst donor support through the Education Transition Fund has been generous it has been small compared to the amount of donor support the education sector got in the 1980s. For example in one year alone in the 1980s the US Government contributed over US$100 million to the education sector.

The total US Government support for the sector since I took office in 2009 has been US$1 million, and no support whatsoever has been forthcoming for the 2nd phase of the Education Transition Fund from that quarter.

The damage done to the education sector by the chaos of the last decade (and underfunding for two decades) is incalculable but we see the effects through these low pass rates.

It is going to take our collective, and sustained, effort as a Nation and increased international support if we are to restore excellence to our education sector.

There has been absolutely no discussion regarding the 2012 Grade 7 results. In 2011, 288365 children sat with a pass rate of 28.89%. In 2012 that went up to 292375 with a pass rate of 31.5%.

Relevant to this is the fact that we concentrated on the Primary sector first – for example we got text books out to the Primary sector in 2011. Textbooks for Secondary schools were only distributed at the end of 2011 and we are still in the process of completing that exercise.

So many of the children who wrote O levels last year at best only had textbooks in Form 4. Anyone who expects children to do well without textbooks simply doesn’t understand the basics of a good education system.

  • Tawanda

    Coltart is waffling. Teachers want to come back but there are too many bottlenecks in his minstry which he should have ironed out long back. He is on an agenda to destroy our education system to accelerate regime change. There is absolutely no reason why the ministry employs untrained temporary teachers whilst shunning qualified teachers who left in 2007-08 over the crisis which affected every sector. We should never loose sight that he is a die hard Rhodie whose patriotism has always been questionable.

    • Charles

      Asi muri umwe wevakatiza he 100% straigth incase u want to say correct

    • Ncube

      Tawanda , you comment is not constructive at all everyone can see that , it would be better just to keep your thoughts to yourself. We all want to go forward. We all know the teachers are not being paid enough , that’s where the problem lies it’s not that complicated.

    • Nhubu

      Tawanda, sorry shamwari asi ndinofunga comment yako yawanyora apo is more informed by Politics against white skin than reality and reason. How do you expect schools to do well and the students where there is no funding?
      The police has crumbled, military, roads, health system, water supply in towns, Electricity supply, naiyowo education yacho. Unoda kuti Coltart aise mari yekumba kwake muEducation yenyika here?? Vachena handinyanyikuvafarira zvangu asi chokwadi hachiputsi ukama.
      Wamboverengawo here maPass rates aripasi apo abva kune vane information??
      Unenge munhu wemusangano iwe.

  • Antony Jongwe


    1998 14.58%
    1999 15.69%
    2000 13.88%
    2001 13.99%
    2002 13.8%
    2003 12.8%
    Source: ZIMSEC.

  • Mduduzi Moyo

    The initial error was to localise exams. Standards took an irrepairable knock. It was a total devaluation of the efforts of all predecessors in the Ministry.

  • Juma Zion Jediah Suberi

    NATIONAL “O” LEVEL PASS RATES IN ZIMBABWE 1998-2012 missing 2004 and 2005

    1998 14.58%
    1999 15.69%
    2000 13.88%
    2001 13.99%
    2002 13.8%
    2003 12.8%
    2006 – 20.16%
    2007 – 14.32%
    2008 – 14.44%
    2009 – 19.33%
    2010 – 16.50%
    2011 – 19.50%
    2012 – 18.40%

  • Monica

    Vana kunyanya kugara pa internet

  • Mtetwa

    If the stated pass rates from 1998-2012 by Suberi are correct, then there is a lot to be done by our Minister. The pass rate is ranging from as low as 13.8%  in 2003 to as high as 20.16% in 2006. Therefore our education system is not good enough for children to pass. This is aggravated by the screening done for those taken from Grade 7 to Form 1. If someone fails Grade 7 and is allowed to proceed how can we have high pass rates in Form 4?

  • Proudly Zimbabwean!

    Tawanda, what the minister said is 100% correct, only that you have been also brain washed ne HONDO YEMINDA YAMUSINGA GONE KURIMA.
    FYI, i am a Zimbabweans living in poor Mozambique with my family, & a Zimbabwe diploma holder in now introduced English schools is being given USD 1200 minimum wage, saka ma Teacher awuri kuti ari kuda kudzoka kuzo tambira USD200/month ndiyani?
    Ndiko kuwuraya nyika kwacho kwatinoyedza kuku wudzayi kuti munzwisise, asi MAKAWOMA MUSORO kunge matamba vanhu veZANU POOR FRONT>