Education minister summersault compromises quality of examinations 

  • Populist decision will affect quality of examinations
  • Cain Mathema learned nothing and forgot nothing

ZIMBABWE School Examinations Council (Zimsec) say they are stunned by Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema’s move to reverse the recent increase in examination fees only a week after he appended his signature to the examination fee hike. 

Some fear canceling the new 2020 examination fees and reverted to the old fees approved in 2015 will cripple the standard of examinations at a time consumables have astronomically risen in the face of rising inflation. 

Zimsec officials who spoke to Zim Morning Post on condition of anonymity for fear or reprisals said while education was a right it has become expensive to run examinations.

“One Zimbabwe dollar for Grade 7 examinations and ZWL$15 for Ordinary Level is impractical. You can’t even buy a loaf of bread with that amount, how do you then run an examination,” queried a top Zimsec official. 

Other observers described the move as populist, drawing similarities with the previous administration.

Under fallen President Robert Mugabe, government scrapped off out-standing rates and bills debts in a move that is still being felt through poor service delivery after Zesa and municipalities lost billions of dollars in potential revenue.

Mugabe often played the populist card, much to the detriment of the national economy which has been decimated by decades of gross mismanagement and corruption.

At the announcement of the fees hike, Zimsec board chairman, Professor Eddie Mwenje told the state-controlled media that all necessary approvals and consultations had been done.

“We operate under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education so the announcement of new examination fees is announced in consultation with the parent ministry,” he said then.

Mwenje added that the examination board had increased the fees in tandem with rising inflation.

“Running of examinations includes the costs of the paper, ink, printing which is quite high, allowances and accommodation facilities for the markers as well as transportation of the examination papers across the country,” said Mwenje.

On Wednesday, Mathema trashed the recent examination fees saying there is need to carry out “further consultation.” 

He appeared to suggest that he had not been consulted in the reviewing of the fees.

“While the examination fees that were published are based on the actual cost of each examination, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would like to inform parents and guardians that following further representations, the recently released circular on the 2020 examination fees has been cancelled with immediate effect,” Mathema said.

“New fees will be announced after further consultations have been made with all the relevant stakeholders. Parents and guardians are therefore advised to continue paying the old fees approved in 2015. Please be advised that the deadlines for examination fees payment remain the same,” he added.

The examination fees for Ordinary Level had been increased to ZWL$190 from ZWL$15  candidates and $351 from $26 for Advanced Level candidates.

Education expert Obert Masaraure argued that it is the constitutional responsibility of government to subsidise basic education.

“Lowering the fees will compromise the quality of our examinations but government should assume its constitutional mandate of funding education,” Masaraure said.

Elsewhere, teachers’ unions among them Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, called off a protest-march after Mathema reset examination fees.


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