While government insists on abolishing Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) examinations, the Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) has warned that the “bulldosed abolition” will backfire and Capital Hill will be held accountable for ignoring dissenting views.
President Peter Mutharika recently approved reforms in the education sector, including the abolition of JCE examinations, which will be replaced by Cluster-Based Examinations (CBE).
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.
Csec on the other hand, is of the view that the abolition is premature, and that the new system requires proper reflection and redress to make it work.
In a statement on Thursday, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said the current practice is, to a greater extent, examination-oriented.
It said both students and teachers focus much on JCE examination results rather than acquisition of knowledge, skills, values and positive attitudes.
“In order to promote continuous assessment, the Ministry plans to strengthen the cluster examination system which will be used as part of secondary school teacher development activity and students learning hubs in line with the plans of the Ministry which intends to resource these cluster centres better than is the case currently.
“Cluster management teams shall be responsible for setting and marking cluster-based examinations within each cluster,” reads the statement in part.
The statement further says emphasis under the new system is on knowledge, skills and values acquired by secondary school students and not the number of public examinations passed.
According to the statement, secondary schools will have the responsibility of encouraging students struggling with their studies in Forms 1, 2 and 3 to benefit from remedial classes or to repeat the year before proceeding to the next class.
However, in an interview on Thursday, Csec excutive director Benedicto Kondowe accused government of ignoring advice from various education institutions and individuals on the reforms.
He said Csec is not fully opposed to the reforms, but the manner in which they are being implemented.
Charged Kondowe: “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.
“Have we learned from them as a country? Have we engaged experts, no! All we see is government imposing the matter on the citizenry.”
He said Csec is worried with how government is handling reforms in the education sector, saying it has decided to forgo consultations with experts and the general public.
Kondowe also reminded government that the abolition of JCE was opposed by the Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) in 2004 when experts proposed it through the Student Testing and Assessment Reform.
“Can’t they find out why Maneb vehemently refused to abolish JCE at that time? If they want to proceed with the reforms, let them do so, but when things fall apart, they will be held accountable,” added Kondowe.
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.