Zvamaida Murwira and Mukudzei Chingwere

Last November’s Zimsec O-Level results are positive and within the normal range despite a modest decrease in the pass rate resulting from the Covid-19 lockdown that made learning difficult.

Results released by the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) yesterday show that the overall pass rate stood at 24,8 percent, a decrease from 31,6 percent of 2019.

Commenting on the results, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema said pupils did well under the circumstances of the Covid-19 challenges.

Minister Mathema congratulated all in the education sector for sterling work, given that they also had to deal with illegal industrial actions by some teachers in some cases.

Going forward, his vision was to see the commissioning of some public schools as online centres conducting virtual education, a model that had proved to be efficient after the Government discouraged social contact.

The minister said the first such maiden virtual school should be named after President Mnangagwa in recognition of his intuitive philosophy that a nation can never develop faster than the development of its education.

“To score 24.8 percent from 31.6 percent, under Covid-19, we have done very well. Makororkoto/amhlope (congratulations) to those who did well. I want to thank the President for his guidance, children and parents/guardians for their resolve,” said Minister Mathema.

“Covid-19 clearly shows us the need to be more systematic in developing online learning for every child whether you are in the rural areas or urban areas. It is unavoidable. I am saying, I do not see a problem in having public schools registered as online schools,” said Minister Mathema.

Addressing a media conference yesterday, Zimsec chairperson Professor Eddie Mwenje said the decrease was not a source of panic given the effects of Covid-19. In 2014 the pass rate was 22,4 percent so the latest results were within the normal range.

Prof Mwenje said a total of 264 099 candidates sat the November O-Level examination compared to 296 464 in 2019, a drop of 32 365 or 11 percent.

“Statistics show that the 2020 pass rate decreased by 6,8 percent from that of 2019. However, a historical analysis indicates that in 2014 a pass rate of 22,4 percent was recorded while in 2017 we had a pass rate of 28,7 percent. This means that 2020 results are within range and this is commendable considering the devastating conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It is also important to note that other countries that went into national lockdowns due to the pandemic also experienced a decrease in pass rate,” said Prof Mwenje.

Zimsec analysed the performance of candidates in the categories of schools, female and male, and special needs candidates.

Prof Mwenje said there were 168 272 school candidates who wrote five or more subjects and 43 244 obtained Grade C or better in five or more subjects. In 2019, at least 176 866 out of which 59 879 passed yielding a 33,9 percent pass rate.

There were 15 977 private candidates last year and 2 403 passed translating into a pass rate of 15,04 percent whereas 2019 pass rate of private candidates, those who were not put forward by a school, stood at 14,4 percent representing a 1,04 increase.

The pass rate for female candidates decreased by 10,6 percent while that of male candidates fell by 6,5 percent with special needs candidates declining by 8,3 percent.

Prof Mwenje said school authorities could access results from yesterday while candidates and authorised personnel could access results through the Zimsec portal at www.zimsec.co.zw from 10 pm last night.

Chief director for Curriculum Development and Technical Services in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mr Thomas Dewah, said the ministry had come up with catch up strategies to cover up for lost time.

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