By Christopher Chisi
The Examination Council of Zambia (ECZ) has embarked on zoning of school examination centres in a bid to enhance security of examination papers and further prevent examination leakages and other forms of malpractice from occurring.
ECZ Director, Micheal Chilala says working with the Ministry of General Education structures at headquarters, provincial and district levels they have identified centralized points where examination materials will be stored under enhanced security arrangements.
Dr. Chilala said this in Lusaka during a media briefing where he announced examination reforms they are implementing in order to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the way examinations are conducted in the country.
“A total of 1,502 schools have been identified, of which 1009 are zonal centres in that they have cluster schools to cater for, while 493 are stand alone, because of their geographical location. It Is therefore expected that majority of the examination centres are not expected to keep examination materials ,except in standalone centres and should also have same security arrangements as the zonal centers,” Dr. Chilala revealed.
“When the planned arrangements are implemented, we will have moved a great deal to safeguard the examination materials and eliminate leakages of examinations papers.”
He further revealed that in an effort to enhance access to education and examination the ECZ will award examination centres status to all schools recognized by the ministry of general education.
Dr. Chilala noted that there has been a public concern that some pupils move longer distances to sit for examination in different schools from where they learn.
He regrets that this has led some pupils to drop out of schools system all together because they probably had nowhere to stay while they wrote examination.
“This calls for the Ministry [of general education] to ensure schools have appropriate facilities before they are authorized to operate in order to maintain the required standard for learning and assessment,” he said.
“To achieve this the Provincial Education Officers must ensure that all recognized schools ,both public and private ,are presented to the examination Council of Zambia for the award of Examination Centre numbers before August 2019 ,which will be used during the year 2020 examinations.”
Meanwhile the ECZ Director says the institution has developed a system for provision of Statements of Results online.
He indicated that the 2018 examinations were the last to use manual Statements of Results.
“The innovations of accessing results online by candidates will help reduce on the costs which ECZ had been incurring to purchase paper and print the results,” he explained.
“We have also invested in automating the process of test development to reduce human involvement in the construction of question papers. Once we implement the system by next year, 2020, there will be full accountability for those involved in the setting of examinations through the system and we will drastically reduce the cost of test development.”
He stressed that it is their considered view that the reforms are justified to ensure the ECZ examinations continue to be relevant, credible and comparable with international standard in assessments.