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Grade 9 Science, ICT exams a mess

IF THE reports we hear concerning the conduct of practical subjects like science and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) final examinations are true, then we should expect a disaster of results.
We all know that there is now a thrust towards promoting science in schools, especially among girls, though boys are not excluded.
The introduction of these subjects in schools means the facilities and the personnel are available. There is never a shortage of pupils.
Science is the engine of growth and we are talking about it at a time the country is focusing on diversification as a means to grow the economy.
In diversifying, a country should be supported by a solid economic industrial base that helps to come about with innovations that will form solutions to various challenges.
A solid industrial base is also a sure platform for job creation which consequently leads to economic growth. Historical evidence abounds to support this assertion.
It is therefore with this in mind that science forms an import subject in the career of any pupil who wants to embark on that field.
While this is so, we know there are not as many science teachers as there are supported to be in school, leaving those who have interest in teaching the subject overloaded in a number of cases.
In this case, our concern is not the overload, but the fact that the final examinations are being conducted in an atmosphere which is not conducive to the pupils, and how we expect them to pass the subject should be everybody’s concern.
By conducive environment, I mean that everything that should help to make the examination a success should be in place. There should be equipment to use in the science laboratory and the timing of the examination should be ideal to accommodate all the candidates.
Load shedding is another factor that is bound to make the conduct of the examinations unconducive.
We wonder how children, maybe 500 of them, should be made to sit an examination in groups, starting from 08:00 hours to maybe 21:00 hours.
The conduct of a final examination in this fashion leaves much doubt as to how conducive such an examination is and what results we should expect next year.
We want to believe that any school that gives examinations in any subject does its homework. It will ensure that the equipment is in place for all the pupils to carry out their examinations. In the case of science subjects, we have seen laboratory assistants and other school staff prepare the equipment and reagents for the pupils to do an examination.
Given the number of candidates sitting the examination and its scheduling, we wonder if this was done. Otherwise, the candidates were unfairly treated.
We are also concerned about the safety of the children who were made to write their examinations after dark. How did they get home or were they made to sleep in the school premises as a way of ensuring their safety. It is likely some of them came from a long way and the idea of getting back home after 20:00 hours was far-fetched.
Where equipment is lacking to provide such subjects, there must be some measures to put such subjects on hold until such a time the equipment is available. It is like asking a photographer who has no camera to take a picture.
The crisis has extended to ICT examinations, some pupils were asked to take their own computers to schools for final examinations. Where such equipment is inadequate, we expect that the schools will only offer the subject to a sizeable number of pupils instead of the wholesale approach that we have seen.
Now what we are seeing is not a conducive atmosphere for a final examination: asking pupils to bring computers from home for the final examination.
Furthermore, pupils have to remain ‘quarantined’ to prevent ‘cross pollination of ideas’ (leakages) and we think this is an inhuman practice. It is not their fault that the examinations have been conducted in a shoddy manner.
Maybe the authorities should have considered doing a pilot project, like we have seen in some instances, to assess whether the teaching of ICT in schools would be a success.
Unless these are simple examinations, we hope these computers would be configured to conform to the school standards.
In view of these challenges in the conduct of the final examinations, those setting the examinations should have extended the examinations to cover a few days in which the examinations would be conducted during the day to prevent candidates from writing late in the evening.
Where this raises issues of leakages, the best option, I submit, should be to wait until such a time there is enough equipment in science and ICT to cover the number of candidates sitting an examination.
Dear readers, I enjoyed interacting with you for the past six weeks; my colleague, Panic Chilufya is back, it’s over to her.

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