Government says it acknowledges the resistance the abolition of Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) has received and it is working on how best to resolve the matter, Deputy Minister of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) Vincent Ghambi has said.
Last year, President Peter Mutharika approved reforms in the education sector, including the abolition of JCE examinations, which will be replaced by Cluster-Based Examinations (CBE).
While Capital Hill argues that the new system will promote continuous assessment from Form One through to Form Four as schools will be able to thoroughly cover the curriculum, education activists and groups
argue that the abolition is bulldozed.
Ghambi admitted in an interview that the decision has met enormous resistance.
“The decision to abolish JCE examinations was contained in reform proposals from the Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) and they had convincing reasons. “However, government acknowledges the resistance that decision has received. Some people feel it is not right, and as government we will look at how best we can deal with the situation,” said Ghambi.
Quizzed on whether ‘dealing with the situation’ means reintroduction of the examination, Ghambi maintained that “government will look at how best to deal with the matter.”
Institutions like the Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) warned government that the “bulldosed abolition” will backfire and Capital Hill will be held accountable for ignoring dissenting views.
Csec executive director Benedicto Kondowe said the organisation is not fully opposed to the reforms, but the manner in which they are being implemented. “Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda are implementing the cluster system and there are so many problems on security, confidentiality, setting, marking schemes and standardisation of examinations,” he said.
Independent Schools Association of Malawi (Isama) president, Joseph Patel, whose organisation wrote MoEST on the matter, said with the new syllabus, it will be naive to wait for four years to assess students.
“Malawi Institute of Education [MIE][ has just introduced a new curriculum which is biased towards science subjects and we need to check progress at JCE before MSCE. Mind you, most schools do not have laboratories.
“It will not be proper to check the new curriculum at MSCE, let government look at this plea and reverse the decision,” he pleaded. Under the new system, candidates who will fail Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations will be awarded a Certificate of Completion to recognise that they went through, and completed secondary education.