Will ZIMSEC exam leakage problems end ? This is the solution offering !
As we approach the long awaited dates for writing ZIMSEC exams, candidates, teachers, parents and officials alike are already in panic knowing that year by year several cases are reported of ZIMSEC exams having leaked therefore forcing candidates to rewrite the exams. In worse cases the replacement exam papers also leak. "Will these exam leakage problems ever end?” you may ask. Read through this solution offering.
It is not a pleasing thing to ZIMSEC's stakeholders when exams leak because and worse to students who spent their vital time preparing for the exam. Exam leakage also has a negative implication on resources as well as on the credibility of the exam outcomes and of ZIMSEC itself. It is because of this that permanent solutions must be employed as opposed to temporal measure like rewrite which punishes some innocent students and teachers. I feel that should the points below be implemented, a much more permanent solution can be reached.
Setting of exams from a central place with high security
Exam leakage can take place at any stage of the process, setting, printing, storage, distribution and during administering. So the proper solution set must consider all these stages for a permanent solution to be achieved. I understand that currently examiners set questions for each paper from where they are which they forward to officials for verification and compiling. Yes the whole paper is not set by one person. But the problem is that most examiners know each other, and the practise of doing this work from wherever can promote exam leakage. So exams would be better be set from a central place with higher security.
Using examiners of good repute
It is due to corruption that the ZIMSEC officials choose their buddies to set the exams even those of questionable conduct. I feel that the examiners who are assigned to set the papers and administer the process of coming up with a complete exam must be of good reputation. I find it very suspicious if an examiner is assigned to set the papers and that very papers or perhaps the section he/she worked on leaks. To me, that examiner is the first suspect! Why then should such a person be given the same task season after season? Discard them, train and use new examiners!
Levy harsh penalties for the users and leakers of exams.
Some people (including officials) are in the business of leaking exam papers. Right now it not surprised that the very exam that my child is preparing to write in November was being sold yesterday in Mbare. ZIMSEC has never reported a break-in at their storage rooms. How are these papers obtained then? Those in the business of leaking papers must face the full wrath of the law, both users of leaked material and worse the leakers!
Printing of exams should not be subcontracted
Subcontracting printing of exams to some organization poses a confidential breach. It is time that ZIMSEC acquires own printers and the necessary technologies to do everything on their own. Preparation of require monitoring of security at every stage and subcontracting printing works against this.
Where are ZIMSEC observers?
I also feel that ZIMSEC observers (if they ever exist) must always be active to enforce the integrity of exams. I have barely seen representatives from ZIMSEC at exam centres my whole life. Only the local teachers administer the exams. With Cambridge even if the exam centre is in the most remote area, there will always be a Cambridge official to monitor the process.
Using proper distribution processes and channels
Let me conclude on this point. I also think that better exam paper distribution processes and channels can be used to deliver the exam papers to centres. No one really know how the papers are delivered, there is a breach to this. In some remote areas, we have seen the papers being distributed by public transport sometimes by someone just questionable.
Exam leakage can be stopped, it just required a collaborative approach by all stakeholders and law enforcers..