The Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) has registered a 54 percent decline in the number of candidates for the 2019 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations that start today nationwide.
Maneb spokesperson Mayamiko Chiwaya said in an interview yesterday about 96 000 candidates are expected to sit the examinations this year, a drop from 2018 when 209 000 candidates registered.
She attributed the decline to the introduction of the new secondary school curriculum.
Said Chiwaya: “We are administering the examinations for the current curriculum for the first time. Of course, this is happening despite us sending examination samples to schools to inform candidates of the examinations structure.”
Without specifying figures, she also said this year’s examinations have seen a drop in the number of external and open distance learning (ODL) candidates.
Chiwaya, however, said Maneb is set to administer the examinations.
Civil Society for Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe said with the new curriculum, students who wanted to re-sit the examinations to improve their grades could not do so without going back to Form Three.
He said implementation of the new curriculum, which has been facing challenges such as lack of new text books and laboratories in schools, might have also affected students’ preparations and eroded their confidence to write the examinations.
Said Kondowe: “The implication might be that the performance
might not be as it used to be previously because of this change.”
Of the 197 287 candidates who sat the 2018 MSCE examination, 124 745 passed, representing a 63.23 percent pass rate.
However, some candidates from some private schools failed to access their results as their schools had not remitted examination fees to Maneb.
But Chiwaya yesterday said they have not registered any irregularities of such nature this year, adding any schools which had not paid candidates’ fees by the deadline were written to and complied.
The Maneb spokesperson said the examinations body will soon be introducing an electronic registration mechanism to allow candidates to register and make payments direct to Maneb to address such challenges.
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) rolled out the new secondary school curriculum in the 2015/16 academic year, a year after postponing its implementation due to logistical challenges.
However, implementation of the new curriculum has been a major challenge for a number factors ,including lack of textbooks, learning facilities such as laboratories and training of teachers mostly in areas of special needs.
Government, through MoEST and Malawi Institute of Education (MIE), had been reviewing the secondary school curriculum since 2009.
The new curriculum seeks to emphasise on science subjects and equip students with learner-centred approaches as well as adequate and relevant skills to cope with tertiary education and the world of work life in general.