The Ministry of Education (MoE) Monday took a swipe at critics who accused it of shoddy job in selecting into the national secondary schools candidates who passed the 2019/20 Primary School Leaving Certificate of Education (PSLCE) examinations.
Briefing reporters in Lilongwe Monday, Secretary for Education Chikondano Mussa, who was accompanied by Principal Secretary for Administration Kiswel Dakamau and other officials from the ministry, described the criticisms as misguided.
“We would like to make it clear here that merit was the major determinant of selecting students to secondary schools,” Mussa said.
During the interface with journalists, the MoE team unveiled classified data of candidates’ performance to justify why some candidates were selected to national secondary schools while others were not.
Mussa said the cut-off point for selecting boys into national secondary schools was 380 marks while that of selecting girls was 354.
She said selection to other schools such as district secondary schools also depended on proximity and economic considerations.
Over the past week, social media had been awash with reports that MoE officials favoured Central Region PSLCE candidates at the expense of those from the other regions.
According to the selection list, the Northern Education Division managed to send 182 students to the country’s 24 national secondary schools; Central East 250; Central West 679; South East 230; South West 230; and Shire Highlands 289.
The critics claimed that the Northern Region was unfairly represented in the selection despite performing better.
On Sunday, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa said he was suspicious of the selection criterion used in sending candidates to secondary schools.
“According to what I have gathered, 1,860 learners were selected to national secondary schools. Among these, 929 learners have been selected from the Southern Region; the Central Region has provided 749; and, in the Northern Region, a negligible figure of 182 learners has been offered secondary school places.
“In percentage terms, the Southern Region has 40 percent. Fifty percent and 10 percent is for the Central and Northern Region, respectively. While the Central Region has the lowest pass rate, it has been given a lion’s share in selection of learners to national secondary schools,” Nankhumwa said.