By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Edgar Moyo has denied allegations by former Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara that the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) was inflating grades to lend a false picture of Zimbabwe’s education standards.
Last week, Mutambara accused Zimsec of utilising poor grading systems that failed to distinguish top students.
“I have seen Press reports about this years’ Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examination results all over the place.
“I want to congratulate all the students, schools and teachers who excelled. Congratulations!
“However, on the Zimsec Advanced Level examination results, there is a slight problem of grade inflation – a pernicious and ruinous national cancer.
“How do you get one school getting 79 students with 15 points (or more) out of 140 students?
“This is 56 percent of the students getting the same top examination outcome.
“This is shameless grade inflation.
“Throughout the country, some schools have such results as 37, 25 or such large numbers of 15-pointers each.
“While these achievements must be celebrated and the students applauded, there is a problem,” Mutambara noted.
Moyo denied the allegations, saying the results were a reflection of students’ performance.
“Our results are fair, credible and follow laid standards.
“I don’t understand what that really meant because there is a grading system which we use.
“The results reflect the performance of the candidates.
“If you follow the normal distribution of intelligence, you will realise that they are within that domain,”Moyo said.
Moyo refuted allegations of Zimsec awarding marks to students to make them appear as if they were intelligent.
“Our systems do not do that.
“As a ministry, we know that our results are good as they are and we should be applauding teachers for having produced the quality of that nature,” Moyo added.
Moyo said enrollment of students for Advanced Level schools selects learners who would have done exceptionally well at Ordinary Level.
“After all, when it comes to Advanced Level, schools make their proofing systems before accepting pupils, meaning schools accept pupils who would have done well at Ordinary Level.
“So, there is competition to harness excellent learners by schools as pupils go for ‘A’ Level.
“Actually, it would have been a big surprise if those learners performed badly while having good results at Ordinary level,” Moyo said.
Mutambara also said it was not possible for one school to get 56 percent of students with one top examination outcome.
“The 2019 Zimsec Advanced Level examination results do not follow a standard normal distribution curve.
“How do you get 56 percent of the students from one school get the same top examination outcome?
“These results are a disservice to the best and brightest students. In fact, they are a disservice to all the students,” Mutambara added.
Due to the alleged grade inflation, Mutambara said it was difficult for top universities to admit these students because they were not differentiated.
“Why do I say this? When you present a thousand students with 15 points from one country (obtained in one sitting) to a university like Oxford or Harvard, it is meaningless because the thousand students are not differentiated.
“You cannot tell who is in the top 10 or 20 among the thousand outstanding students.
“You put the top university in an invidious situation. They cannot admit them, and yet some of the thousand students would definitely qualify to study in these top and globally competitive programmes.
“However, you do not know who they are. You might have to give the thousand students another examination to rank them. This is the challenge that is presented by grade inflation,” Mutambara added. Nehanda Radio