Can computerization solve the ongoing exam paper leakage of ZIMSEC exams ?
The Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC) has undeniably managed break the record as its 2017 exams brought the worst national exam leakage in history. Well, this is of course very shameful and pathetic as it ruins the credibility of our once highly recognized exam board. What could be the course of such scenarios where exam paper leakage ends up becoming a national outbreak year after year? Can computerization solve the ongoing exam paper leakage of ZIMSEC exams?
It is no secret that exam papers are leaking in Zimbabwe and the responsible officials seem to continue dipping their heads under water as no permanent solutions are employed to curb this ongoing disaster. Rewrites and repeats are not a solution but rather a mere temporary measure or even a harsh punishment to innocent students who innocently spent their vital time to prepare and write an exam later to be nullified. Rewrites are also a resource wasting move for ZIMSEC itself, as more resources are wasted for reprints, redistribution and marking of the exams.
What could be the causes of such shameful exam paper leakages? They say "if the foundation is weak, even the whole house will be weak". So it has everything to do with the whole system, exam paper setting, exam handling, question paper printing, question paper handling, packaging and distribution. None of these processes involve the students; the processes have everything to do with the exams officials and the exam board itself. It therefore means that the officials are arguably to blame for all the exam paper leakage disasters punishing our children year after year. All the processes mentioned above demand integrity and security and these are ZIMSEC's responsibility.
Can computerization alleviate the problem of exam paper leakages? What is computerization anyway? It is the act of controlling, performing, processing and or storing information electronically or using computers. This reduces human involvement in all the previously mentioned processes from exam paper setting to delivery. It is unquestionable that involvement of human beings in work that requires confidential handling reduces its integrity. Computerization therefore can help ZIMSEC to alleviate the paper leakage outbreak.
How can computerization be used in this regard? I previously talked about exam paper setting, exam handling, question paper printing, question paper handling, packaging and distribution. All these processes can rather be computerized to reduce manual handling. These days there are ready made sophisticated computer programs that can shuffle fed questions to come up with a complete question paper. Why selecting questions manually? Also there are sophisticated printers that are able to do everything from printing to packaging speedily and with very few to no errors in comparison to involving humans. So why is ZIMSEC failing to invest in these?
I also question how the whole process is supervised. It is not effective to manually do this job. Cameras must be used in printing rooms, exam storage and server rooms as well as in other exam work stations. Also alarms must be used. So I therefore feel that, should these and other techniques I might have failed to capture are employed, these cases can effectively be alleviated.
The rewrite date for the English paper 2 has been set to 16 November. If you are overseas please prepare journey back to Zimbabwe on time and prepare for that exam. I feel sorry for you, such an outcome is painful, but what’s done is done.