Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) says it has developed test items and sample papers for the Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) examinations following its re-introduction in February this year.
Maneb executive director Gerald Chiunda said this in an interview yesterday on the sidelines of a press briefing at the Central Office of Information in Blantyre.
In February, government announced the re-introduction of JCE examinations and that the first examination will be administered in 2021.
Chiunda said the sample papers have already been dispatched and received by approved JCE examination centres, adding the Ministry of Education has also approved the proposal to merge some subjects.
He said: “Part of Maneb’s mandate is to engage in test development research and validity studies. Through our studies, we noted issues with some of the subjects and made proposals to the ministry on how to improve examinability of such subjects.
“The ministry granted us the approval to combine some subjects into one examination paper and this is specifically for Social Studies and Life Skills, which will start being administered from 2022.”
Chiunda said teaching of the two subjects will still be done separately and that the merger is only for examination purposes.
He said Maneb will, at a later point, also develop and send Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examination sample papers for the two subjects to registered centres.
The resolution to abolish JCE examination in 2015 received criticism from education experts, who argued that it would lead to poor performance of candidates at MSCE level.
Meanwhile, the examinations body has since expressed confidence that the forthcoming Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) and MSCE will be a success as all logistics have been finalised.
Maneb temporarily postponed both the PSLCE and MSCE in March this year following closure of schools due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chiunda yesterday reiterated that despite Covid-19, there will be no change in administration of the examination as their rules stipulate a 1.4 metre spacing; hence, social distancing will be observed as a precautionary measure.
In an earlier interview, Maneb spokesperson Mayamiko Chiwaya said they will ensure all personal protective equipment (PPE), including hand washing facilities, are available in all examination centres.
According to Chiunda, by the time schools were being closed due to Covid-19, they had already done printing, packing and boxing of examination materials, as such Maneb will not change the dates and times on the examination papers.
He added that Maneb is working closely with district education managers (DEMs) and the police to ensure allowances of PSLCE administrators are paid by September 23 and those for MSCE administrators by October 27.
Maneb announced new dates for administration of both PSLCE and MSCE examinations following governments announcement of re-opening of schools two weeks ago.
While PSLCE will be administered from September 30 to October 2 2020, MSCE will be administered from October 27 2020 to November 20 2020.
However, education analysts argued that the time frame given to candidates to sit for the examinations was not realistic, considering that students were not in school for five months.