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Chaos as villagers supervise exams

CHAOS rocked the start of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) June “O” and “A” Level examinations which started yesterday, with teachers’ unions claiming government hired “villagers and ancillary staff” to invigilate the public examinations after most of their members boycotted over poor working conditions. BY PRECIOUS CHIDA The unions said in addition to having to contend with poor salaries, government failed to put in place measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 during the exams. On Monday, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) accused government of failing to set up logistics to transport teachers to the new examination centres. Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou yesterday told NewsDay that schools in rural areas had resorted to hiring villagers to supervise the examinations, raising questions about the integrity of 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 were hired to invigilate the examinations after teachers failed to turn up. School development committee members were reportedly invited to scout for people with at least five “O” Level passes, who were hurriedly interviewed to take up posts as invigilators. “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.” Many “O” Level candidates, Zhou said, who also registered for November failed to turn up, opting to write at the end of the year when possibly COVID-19 would be under control. “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, who failed to come, were afraid of contracting the coronavirus due to lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Most of them also

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