HARARE – Government has barred the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) from compiling the top 100 schools in this year’s Grade Seven examinations, preferring it to be done by the minister of Primary and Secondary Education.
Over the years, Zimsec has been ranking schools’ pass rates on a top 100 table — a development that attracted mixed reactions from parents, school authorities and other stakeholders over the criteria used by the national examinations body to rank the schools.
While schools that dominated the rankings hailed Zimsec, those that failed to make it criticised the criteria for failing to consider variables such as inter-alia the school type, and enrolment in terms of teacher-pupil ratio.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora told the Daily News Thursday that owing to groans from several education stakeholders, his ministry had decided to take over the compilation of that list.
“Our team is busy working on modalities to ensure that we come with more inclusive criteria and until the team is finished there will not be any ranking of schools in terms of their academic performances,” Dokora said without giving time-frames by which the exercise is expected to be completed.
“How do you explain for example, a situation where at a school two candidates sit for an examination and they pass then the institution is ranked the best in the country on that basis?
“We need to look at that anomaly with a view to correcting it.”
Dokora’s views are also reflected in some of the feedback that the Daily News which has been reporting on the top 100 over the years received, each time the list was published.
“There should be a minimum number of students per school to allow it to be ranked otherwise we can’t compare a school with only eight candidates with the one with 50, this is a shame comparison,” said a teacher from a Mashonaland Central school who only identified himself as Nhau when the 2014 top 100 for Grade Seven examinations was published.
“You are giving credit to wrong people.
“If all seven candidates at Mutare blah blah School had four units and seven best performers from the 98 Mahatshula had four units, then how on earth can
Mutare blah blah justify their number one!?”
Another reader who identified himself as Mahembe said, “Let’s revisit the whole education system and give constructive criticism.
“Could you also include the most improved and also consider rural schools on their own.”
Forty primary schools, led by Mutare Probation Primary, attained an incredible 100 percent pass rate in the November 2014 Zimsec examinations.
According to Zimsec statistics, the rest of the schools that completed the top 100 table scored a percentage pass rate of over 94 percent, culminating in an improved Grade Seven national pass rate from the 32,2 percent recorded in 2013.
In 2013, only 22 schools attained 100 percent pass rate as compared to 40 that attained that feat last year while that of 2012 was 31,5 percent.
As if to justify Dokora’s ban, the majority of the top-ranked learning institutions were private schools.
Mutare Probation situated in Ward 10 in Mutare Central for example has an enrolment of only 39 boys and these are taught by three teachers.
Other schools which recorded a 100 percent pass rate were Waterfalls Primary, Redcliff Primary, Old Windsor Primary, Hippo Valley Estates