Nearly 590 suspects were caught cheating while sitting for November 2022 Ordinary and Advanced Level final examinations, the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) has said.
This was after Zimsec unleashed Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) officers to fish out the cheats and the criminals behind the widely publicised examination paper leaks that rocked this year’s end of year “O” and “A” Level examinations.
Zimsec deputy director Farai Zisengwe and Education ministry director Barnabas Mangosho yesterday told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education led by Honourable Torerai Moyo that despite the progress on the issue of leaked papers, the matter has not yet been concluded.
“This is an issue which has not been concluded. We are doing the assessment and we are marking to identify these cheats,” Zisengwe said.
“About 588 candidates were caught along the way, but we believe there are more who will be caught during the marking period.
“The board is going to be seized with the issue and we can confidently say Advanced Level results will be out early January, but for Ordinary Level we cannot say the same.”
A number of examination papers leaked before students sat for their final “O” and “A” Level examinations last month.
Government localised public school examinations in the late 1990s after scrapping the Cambridge examination system, but frequent leaks have dented Zimsec’s credibility.Government once said it intended to install geographic positioning systems software on boxes containing examination papers to curb paper leaks, but the scam has continued unabated.
According to police, the recent leaks could be traced to Zimsec offices in Harare.
Mangosho, however, disputed that the leaks could be traced to Zimsec.
“No November 2022 question paper leaked from Zimsec because of the security protocols that were put in place. It is regrettable that a member-in-charge of the police in Gutu posted on social media that the question papers had leaked from Zimsec yet there was no evidence of such,” Mangosho said.
He said Zimsec engaged CIO officers to trace the leaks, leading to the sized of cellphones from candidates and arrest of criminals that were involved in the selling and buying of question papers.
“Zimsec has requested the amendment of the Zimsec Act to [to provide for] a mandatory custodial sentence for leaking question papers since 2019,” Mangosho said.
“This is a prohibitive tool which is vitally important to curb the leaking of examination question papers. Most of the convicted criminals have been given community service. This is not commensurate with the impact of the problems caused by the leaking of question papers.
“There has been an erosion of the integrity of some of our heads of schools and this has caused problems in the keeping of question papers. Cluster points are selected schools which have heads of schools who should be of integrity.”
In December 2020, a Zimsec clerk was dragged to court on charges of stealing and selling a copy of the October-November Economics Paper 3. He stole the examination paper from the printing press.