Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) is today expected to start administering the 2020 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examination which were postponed following closure of schools in March due to Covid-19.
But educationist Dr. Steve Sharra fears the exam results may be poor due to the lengthy school closure. Form Four students returned to school early September.
Maneb spokesperson Mayamiko Chiwaya in an interview yesterday said about 154 147 candidates are expected to sit the examinations, out of which 72 641 are female and 81 506 are male.
She said Maneb is all set for the examinations having already paid security personnel, invigilators and supervisors to ensure a smooth process.
Said Chiwaya: “We are paying allowances before people go out to do their work. We have done the allocation because we know who is going where and we have remitted allowances to DEM’s [district education manager] offices.”
Spot-checks The Nation conducted yesterday in some secondary schools in Blantyre, Chikwawa, Ntcheu, Mangochi, Ntchisi and Mzimba indicated that some schools have not covered all topics in the syllabuses.
When we visited Chichiri and Blantyre secondary schools in Blantyre, teachers and candidates were found busy arranging sitting plans while some candidates were spotted doing group discussions.
In the 2019 MSCE examinations, the first under the new syllabus, 46 771 out of 92 867 candidates who sat for the exams qualified for the award of the MSCE certificate, representing 50.36 percent.
In a separate interview, Sharra feared that the 2020 MSCE examination results will be poor, claiming tha few schools completed syllabuses before the closure of schools on March 23 this year as one of the measures to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.
He observed that without a clear policy guidance from the Ministry of Education on what teachers could do to keep students active during the school closure, most schools failed to catch up on the lost time.
Explained Sharra: “There is inequality that is going to worsen here because students from well-off families were able to continue learning and they will do well while students from poor backgrounds are going to suffer.”
He suggested that schools should not consider MSCE to be the end of the learning cycle for the Form Four students, saying the five-months that students stayed home has created a gap in their knowledge.
“Schools need to use next year to continue with the content that was missed, in a gradual way. This will help those who will choose to repeat. Those who will exit the school system will need to be supported in other ways that leverage open and distance learning methods,” said Sharra.
After the Covid-19 break, government reopened the first phase of schools on September 7 for examination classes and final year students, including Form Four students, to help them catch up on lessons before starting their examinations.