Education experts say candidates sitting Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) and Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations this year should be given ample time to prepare once schools reopen.
The sentiments follow a leaked draft document from the Ministry of Education showing that PSLCE will be administered in the third week of September and MSCE in the fourth week of October.
According to the document, which the ministry’s Principal Secretary Chikondano Mussa in a statement issued on Wednesday evening owned, also indicates that schools are scheduled to open on September 7.
But in separate interviews yesterday, Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe and educationist Dr. Steve Sharra said giving candidates inadequate time to settle down and prepare for the examinations once the schools reopen would be giving them a raw deal.
Kondowe said candidates need a proper timeframe to first finish their syllabuses before sitting any examinations, adding failure to do so may affect the examination results as students will be ill-prepared.
He said: “Since government would not want to be seen as having made the wrong decision, a scheme could be made to manipulate the examination results with the view to prove critics wrong.
“As a result, the grades the candidates would acquire would not be a reflection of requisite skills and competences attained.”
On his part, Sharra said there is need for thorough consultations on the matter as both the PSLCE and MSCE play a critical role in students’ lives.
“It is a tough situation, understandably, but these examinations define the future of many young people in this country so the need for adequate consultations cannot be overemphasised,” he said.
According to Sharra, such consultations must include teachers, school managers, security services and health experts, among others, to give input on the feasibility of any proposed dates for administering the examinations.
When contacted, Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) executive director Gerald Chiunda declined to comment, saying the examinations body is yet to receive formal communication from the ministry on the matter.
But according to Mussa, the ministry is considering all views from numerous stakeholders on the issue.
Reads the statement: “It has come to the attention of the ministry that there is a document in circulation on social media platforms which is a draft copy of the ongoing discussions concerning the reopening of schools.
“Having noted this, the ministry would like to convey to the general public that school readiness assessments are now underway and will feed into the school reopening roadmap.”
In the statement, Mussa further appealed for patience from Malawians as consultations are still underway.
On Saturday, President Lazarus Chakwera announced that schools will reopen early September.
The announcement was followed by guidelines from the Ministry of Education as a preparedness checklist for schools to facilitate the reopening, including disinfection of schools before reopening and availability of water, soap and hand sanitisers at entrances to classrooms, toilets, dining areas, libraries, hostels and administration offices.
The guidelines also indicate an engagement of stakeholders on reopening plans, health protocols and strategies to ensure safety and learning, as well as orientation of teachers on remedial education strategies on health, hygiene and psychosocial support for learners.
In addition, the guidelines indicate that the Ministry of Health, through district environmental health officers, will ensure periodic disinfections, adherence to preventive protocols, orientation of learners and cancel lation of assemblies and other crowded events in schools.