ZIMSEC June examinations have started in chaos as villagers are replacing teachers to invigilate writing students according to unions representing teachers. People from the villages and ancillary staff members at schools are standing in for striking teachers who are demanding a living wage from their employer. Other schools are demanding USD 1 per student to raise funds to pay hired invigilators.
The unions have also castigated the government for not only failing to provide a better salary for teachers but also their lack of concern over the health of teachers during the covid-19 pandemic as no protective equipment has been provided for the teachers.
ZIMTA, Zimbabwe’s largest teachers union accused the government of failing to provide transport for teachers to the examination centres despite being in knowledge that transportation is a problem in Zimbabwe during the lockdown.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou told local publication Newsday yesterday that the Ministry of Education had resorted to hiring villagers to invigilate the examinations.
At Vhembe Secondary School in Matabeleland South province, district officials invigilated the examinations, while in other areas including Zvishavane, Mberengwa, Karoi, Mutare, Uzumba, Maramba and Pfungwe, parents and villagers were hired to invigilate the examinations after teachers failed to turn up.
Reports indicate that school development committees were tasked by the district offices to hurriedly scout and interview people with 5 O levels to fill in the posts of missing teachers during examination time.
“It was a mess, and it is terrible,” Zhou said.
“Other headmasters have told pupils to pay US$1 every day they are writing so that the schools can have money to pay the hired invigilators.”
He added: “There are reports from the rural areas of schools that enticed some villagers to come and invigilate under the supervision of at least a teacher in every class and some heads have sent an SOS through Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) for villagers with 5 ‘O’ Levels to report to schools for consideration as invigilators.
“We are also aware that some individuals are being called in with the promise of jobs and schools have also called ancillary staff to invigilate. Teachers in administration and some heads of departments have reported to schools because they receive money for managing exams.”
Zhou says students registered for both June and November are opting to write in November when the Covid-19 situation is under control.
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“About a third of those who registered in November failed to turn up. Another sad development was recorded in schools in border areas, where some candidates just sneaked in from other countries and went straight into examination rooms with others. It is terrible,” he said.
“In other areas like Matabeleland South, there were no sanitisers and infrared thermometers were not available. One school approached the nearest health centre, which demanded five litres of fuel every morning to go and take candidates’ temperatures before they get into the examination room.”
Most candidates did not up for the exams as they feared they would contract Covid-19 as teachers have no protective equipment and classrooms were not sanitised. Some students failed to get transport to examination centres.