Morris Mtisi Education Correspondent
Why do candidates after writing examinations not see their marked scripts? Have they no right to see how their scripts were marked?
Soon I will tell you what prompted me to ask this question. But for now let us examine the fulcrum of the matter. I know some of you are grinning or laughing thoughtfully already. This is not humour. I am very serious. Where is each candidate’s primary evidence that his or her work was marked in the first place? The secondary evidence is there…fine, because a grade is there posted against every subject sat on the examination results slip. But where is the primary evidence that this mark is for the work the candidate submitted for marking? Trust? Faith even? Is that enough?
What makes students confident that the grade they got reflects the work competently and judiciously adjudicated? That’s the pith of the matter.
Now this is why I am asking?
In the past I have seen too many cases of miracle grades reflected on the results slips of candidates I have taught myself. There have been cases where some of my best, deserving a B or C at worst, flopped into E Grade or straight U? How does this happen in a normal world? Even in the Bible miracles were not an every-place or every-moment surprise.
How does a semi-literate or literally illiterate candidate come out with a B in an examination where even the very best struggled and came out with Cs and Ds? How does it happen?
I had hoped I would die before asking this question and raising this puzzle. If the idea of dying is too strong, may be let me say, ‘I had hoped I would stop writing as an education correspondent before raising this puzzle.’ But to ask or not to ask, that is not the question here.
Candidates, many of them, have been known not to have had grades for subjects that they actually registered and sat. Many have had x against the subject suggesting they did not register or write. Often-times too, candidates have had grades for subjects they did not register to write. How does this happen? How many things happen at the Examination Council and Marking Centres?
If a candidate has doubts or indeed genuine queries about their result and grade, do they have the right or entitlement to see the marked script? If not, why?
One of the obvious answers that I expect is, ‘It would be very costly to embark on an arrangement of sending back marked scripts to the candidates.’ True. There is no doubt in that fact. It is certainly a fact, not an assertion or claim. But then the question is, ‘What would be more costly in the final analysis, availing the marked scripts or ‘hiding them’ and then fail a successful candidate or vice-versa, namely pass a dunderhead and allow him or her to proceed to college or university? What would this cost the government if the civil service in particular, but also the private sector, is full of non-entities whose examination scripts were either not marked at all or marked badly, poorly, ‘miraculously’?
I want to end by asking what you think would happen if the nation were filled with ‘medical doctors’ whose training and assessment was sheer dog’s breakfast ? What would happen on the roads of Zimbabwe if the drivers of vehicles were tested and licensed by incompetent inspectors who issued out undeserved driver’s licences?
How many people in Zimbabwe can and do trust the marking process, in particular of English Literature and English Compositions? Well, supposing we all trust them…but ‘Where is the primary evidence of competent and responsible marking, in some cases even of any marking at all?
If you follow some of the group chats of particular subject gurus or experts, you will be shocked at the sheer confusion and intellectual primitiveness of the exchanged ‘wisdom’. Some of the questions they ask amongst them would be easily answered by the students they teach.
You will be knocked for six at the sheer lack of intellectual or academic sharpness and penetration.
You will be traumatised by the lack of desired proof of intelligence to claim any academic authority. This intellectual weight is needed to assume a mental position above the student. You will be frightened by the amount breaches of acknowledged rules of English grammar by the teachers of English as they communicate amongst themselves.
It is my submission that teachers need an appropriate level of brilliance to mastermind competent teaching and assessment of students.
They need outstanding ability to assess candidates . . . teach them even.
They need a certain level of aptitude to competently and fairly assess both intelligent and not-so-intelligent candidates.
What kind of assessors, markers, let alone teachers do we have? We know, do we not, that almost all of them are both teachers and markers who call themselves ‘examiners’? And boast that they are both teachers and examiners! Those of us to whom it is critical to think about education ask, “How does being a marker help one to become a competent teacher? Is there a real advantage in being a so-called examiner? Are all markers necessarily better teachers than those who are not?” Some of us do not hesitate to doubt this.
Let me ask you another question before closing my case.
Where are the teachers who never learnt anything those four to five years in teacher education colleges and universities when there was all over Zimbabwe an endless sit-in also called strike or service-withdrawal depending on the lens with which one looked at the whole industrial impasse? We have forgotten?
We all know these teachers did not learn anything. Where are they today? How many of them are marking examinations today? At least we know where the whole generation of students who did not learn anything in the same years are. They are on the streets. Many have no qualifications. Many are unemployed and many more unemployable and vending to eke out money and livelihood.
Food for thought!