The Ministry of Education is expected to spend another K4.5 billion on re-administration of the 2020 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations, expected to start on March 9 2021.
On Wednesday, the ministry announced cancellation of the leaked MSCE examinations.
Education Minister Agnes NyaLonje said, following preliminary inquiries into the leakage of the examinations, the ministry had been left with no option but to cancel them.
“What has happened in this year’s examination is uncalled for. This new Tonse Administration will not bow down to impunity that has stricken the country for so long,” NyaLonje said.
She said the decision to cancel the examinations had been sanctioned by Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb), which is the overseer of examinations in the country.
“The Malawi National Examinations Board has been ordered to do a thorough investigation to find out the culprit. This is our number one priority,” NyaLonje said.
The minister said the students would remain in school until the closing date.
Maneb Executive Director Gerald Chiunda said, after inspecting some schools in the country, they noted that some learners possessed yet-to-be administered examination papers.
“We, as a board, are very sad with what some people have done. This is really a step backward in the way we should run our examinations in the country,” he said.
Chiunda suspected that the examinations were leaked by Maneb workers as some of the papers leaked before they left Maneb offices.
He said about K4.5 billion was already spent on the cancelled examinations.
Meanwhile, Maneb has said candidates would not be required to pay extra examination fees.
However, the decision to cancel examinations did not go well with some candidates, who took to the street to protest the government’s decision.
In Lilongwe, MSCE candidates at Bwaila Secondary School—who were sitting examinations—had running battles with the police as they took to the streets to demonstrate against the Ministry’s decision.
In Zomba, Police fired teargas to disperse students who gathered at Mpondabwino Market in the city.
There were stones and tree branches on the roads and irate candidates used them to block roads.
Police used tear-gas to disperse the protesters and we witnessed one female candidate who is asthmatic being taken to hospital after fainting.
“Students had finished sitting examinations and went out of the school campus but we did not know that they had agreed to regroup outside and demonstrate against the government’s decision,” said a teacher who was invigilating examinations at the school.
Meanwhile, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is demanding immediate resignation or firing of Chiunda for gross failure in leadership and management of the examinations.
HRDC, in a press statement signed by Chairperson Gift Trapence and National Coordinator Luke Tembo, said that Chiunda cannot be trusted with another huge responsibility to preside over examinations.
“He has grossly failed, and he needs to be relieved of his duties with immediate effect,” reads part of the statement.
HRDC also called upon the government to put in place measures to absorb and cushion the financial burden that guardians and parents are likely going to incur because of the mess.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.