President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) to re-administer 2020 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations before end of January as government cancelled the examinations after several test papers were leaked.
Revelations of the leakage of some examination papers prompted Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje to call for a news conference in Lilongwe on Wednesday where she announced the cancellation and that fresh examinations will be administered in March 2021.
But in a national address on Thursday morning, President Chakwera ordered that the examinations should be re-administered before end of January 2021.
“To have several secondary school exam papers leaked and the education of hundreds of thousands of students thrown off course is simply unacceptable,” said Chakwera, visibly irked with the development.
He said: “ I am giving the Malawi National Examination Board until the end of January to get a new set of examinations done.”
The President also said Minister of Education must find out who leaked the exams and take action within a week.
“I am giving the Minister of Education one week to work with Maneb to identify and discipline either the people who did this or the officers whose negligence allowed this to happen.
“Whatever the motives, this is clearly a deliberate act occasioned by elements of criminality, impunity and negligence that cannot be allowed to continue.”
NyaLonje assured that government will ensure the next examination process goes well, but warned masterminds of the leakage that they will face the law when traced.
Social commentator Onjezani Kenani posted on Facebook that the examinations had lost credibility.
He said the leakage would affect children in rural areas who used paraffin lamps to study, had no access to the WhatsApp messaging app and would therefore not have had access to the leaked exam papers.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is demanding immediate resignation or firing of Maneb executive director Gerald Chiunda for gross leadership failure in the management of this year’s MSCE.
In its scathing statement made available to Nyasa Times in response to gross leakage of MSCE examination paper, HRDC chairperson Gift Trapence says Chiunda cannot be trusted with another huge responsibility to preside over yet another examination.
Trapence wants government to put in place measure to absorb the financial burden that guardians and parents are likely going to incur because of this mess.
“In our considered view we do not expect both government and private schools to demand schools’ fees for the possible 4th terms for the candidates,” he said.
“This crisis is costly and a huge embarrassment to the country. It is time someone takes responsibility and be held personally liable for such a mess. The new Malawi we fought for does not take and accommodate mediocrity,” he said.
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe said implications of the cancellation are that fresh papers have to be formulated and retaken, which would mean taxpayers paying twice to administer the examination.
Education expert Steve Sharra said it will be tough on the part of Maneb to have two cohorts of the MSCE examinations administered in the same year.
He also said such developments affect the integrity of the country’s examinations, as such problems jeopardise the entire education system.
“Institutions of higher learning and even employers don’t want to enrol or hire people whose examination results were compromised. It also makes us a laughing stock in the eyes of other countries,” Sharra said in quotes reported in the press.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :