By Felex Share
The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) has cancelled 13 Ordinary-Level exam papers and will have to reset them at a cost of US$850 000.
This follows an incident in which an acting headmaster in Matabeleland North Province reportedly lost the papers while travelling from Bulawayo last Friday.
The acting head of Sijahugwe Secondary School in Bubi Mr Panganai Zimhuno allegedly lost the papers at Renkini Long Distance Bus Terminus. Government has since demanded a detailed report on the incident.
The cancelled papers are English Language (Paper 1 and 2), Mathematics non-calculator version (Paper 1 and 2), Geography (Paper 1 and 2), Integrated Science (Paper 1, 2 and 3), Commerce (Paper 1 and 2) and Ndebele (Paper 1 and 2).
Timetables for the exams — which start on October 29 — however, remain unchanged. Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart said the acting headmaster would face disciplinary action.
“I have had a discussion with Professor (Norman) Maphosa (Zimsec board chairman) and Government demands a full report. If we find the teacher to have been negligent, necessary disciplinary action would be taken because we are looking at the cost to Government, to the parents and the candidates.”
Prof Maphosa said the examinations body was working on replacing the question papers.
“Zimsec has cancelled all the question papers for the missing subjects at all examination centres countrywide. There will not be any changes to the timetable and examination centres will be notified accordingly,” he said.
Prof Maphosa said they were yet to get full details on how the question papers went missing. It cost Zimsec US$996 000 to print exam question papers for the 286 343 candidates who registered for O-Level public examinations this year.
Prof Maphosa said they were negotiating with their printing partners for the printing of new question papers.
“We held a meeting with them this morning (yesterday) for the process to commence,” he said.
He said examinations would proceed at all the 2 118 O-Level centres without disruption.
“Zimsec is aware and regrets the anxiety this incident may have caused to candidates, parents, guardians and other stakeholders,” said Prof Maphosa.
“Apart form this incident, other centres had managed to collect their papers without any challenges.”
Prof Maphosa urged those involved in handling question papers to exercise “due diligence and care”.
“We would not expect a recurrence of this unfortunate incident. We believe the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture will take the necessary disciplinary measures against the headmaster as they are the employer,” he said.
Zimsec prints and delivers question papers to cluster collection points where heads of various examination centres collect them. Prof Maphosa said it was Zimsec’s responsibility and the parent ministry to ensure the papers were safe.
“We are always security-conscious and because of lack of resources we cannot deliver the examination papers to every school that is why we work together with the ministry,” he said.
Mr Zimhuno reportedly lost the papers in a bus between Renkini and the 30km peg along the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road. Police are investigating the incident. The Herald