Allow me to share some suggestions on how we may tackle the problem of examination leakages.
From the onset, I would like to state the inevitable; that is, the cost of implementing these initiatives could be colossal but the returns of preventing examination leakage, retaining confidence in our examinations and averting of future cancellations could weigh even more.
While a fool proof system is seldom attainable, measures can be adopted to mitigate the scourge of examination leakages.
To this end, let’s consider the following suggestions:
- Install trunks at local education office to hold examination papers with 3 keys to be kept by different officers such as Education Officer, PS Officer and Police Officer or other such individuals to be assigned by ECZ. Deposit examination papers to these Local Examination Centres 48 hours before the examination date.
- Deposit examination papers to schools only 24 hours and 72 hours before theory and practical examinations respectively.
- Examination paper trunks to be opened only 30 minutes before the examination by the three key bearers mentioned in point 1 above.
- Or consider installing printers/photo copiers connected to a server capable of mass printing and stapling seriated papers bearing candidate’s details such as candidate number, name, school or whatever makes it more difficulty for a paper to be copied and circulated to any other individual besides the intended candidate.
Access to print should only be granted to designated officers at various levels eg permanent secretary level, provincial/district level and finally local level 24 hours before theory examination and 72 hours for practical examinations.
We may draw resources from the Electoral Commission of Zambia, Zambia National Service, Zambia Air Force, Zambia Police, Zambia Army, Postal Services, local Airlines and others to ensure timely delivery of papers.
- Print different examinations for different provinces or districts taking advantage of point 4 above to restrict the scale of examination cancellation to affected centres only in the future. We need a repertoire of thousands of suitable questions preferably prepared by college and university lecturers but kept by ECZ.
- Consider printing theory examination papers only on examination days!! This would require possibly starting all examinations say at 11:00hrs to allow for deliveries deploying all resources as spelled out in point 4 above. Surely there will be no time to leak the papers. We may learn from Key Time and Examination Centre Supervision practiced by Cambridge Assessment International Examination in view of possible logistical challenges.
- Alternatively, grant examination papers printing rights to each examination centre only when certain that candidates at all centres are all seated in their respective examination rooms. This way, no leakage is possible.
Let us debate on how best to restore the integrity of our examinations. We can do this.