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JCE exams abolished

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President Peter Mutharika has approved recommendation by stakeholders in the ongoing Public Service Reform Programme to abolish the Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) examinations. Government has also stopped printing of Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) to save costs.

This is part of the approval the President has made to 46 parastatal.

Public Service Reforms Management Unit spokesperson, Constance Kilimo, confirmed that Mutharika has approved the reforms and that the organisations were communicated to during a five-day session last week when the commission met them.

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“They have been told to go and start implementation from October 1 [2015]. Apart from that, there will be quarterly meetings with management and the board to track progress.

“We hope implementation will be certain because the approved reforms are the ones that they themselves proposed,” said Kilimo in an interview.

She said pupils and guardians who want to have documentation on the PSLCE will have to request the Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) for a transcript.

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“But while primary school pupils will still be writing Maneb exams at the end of the circle in standard eight and get the Primary School Leaving Certificate, the printing of the certificate has been stopped. The results will now be given through a transcript, a decision that will see Maneb saving K20 million in printing costs.

“Maneb will also save K2 billion on the decision concerning JCE,” she said.

She explained that Maneb proposed to abolish JCE as they believe that the paper has lost value and is not in demand by employers.

Education expert Steve Sharra said the rationale behind the decisions seems to be more about economic necessity than changes in our society.

Sharra said these are drastic changes to make at once, wondering as to whether consultations preceded the decisions.

He said although certificates serve the needs of employers, they also serve the purpose of indicating how much education an individual has accumulated for other purposes not related to employment.

“Every year we have close to 900,000 students who enroll in Standard One. By Standard Eight only 200,000 survive. Of these about 90,000 find space in secondary schools. These changes will mean that most of these people will have not a single document to show that they ever attended school,” he said.

Sharra said it is understandable that changes have to be made as the country is in dire economic circumstances, but there is a need to proceed carefully.

Kilimo also disclosed that the water sector is set to undergo major reforms that would see the introduction of a regulatory authority to deal with issues of overpricing, inefficiencies as well as bringing in private players in the industry.

“Some of the generic reforms in the sector include diversification of revenue through bottled water and implementation of pre-paid water meters, a move meant to give customers value for money as well as saving bill printing costs on the part of the water boards,” she said.

The reforms, according to Kilimo, will also see some generic changes in the tertiary education sector where Public Private Partnerships and Joint Venture arrangements for student accommodation have been approved to improve the lack of hostels in universities.

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