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Junior Certificate of Education exams start ‘on a good note’

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DIVERSITY—Candidates from various schools take their examinations at Katoto Centre

By Thomas Kachere, Jarson Malowa, Feston Malekezo & Wezzie Gaus:

Administration of Junior Certificate of Education (JCE) examinations started on a generally positive note yesterday with no serious challenges registered in the centres across the country, at least by the time we went to press.

This year, 159,946 candidates registered to sit the examinations from last year’s 129,928 representing an 18.8 percent rise.

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Our spot checks in various centres across the country found that everything was in place with police officers providing security at the centres.

Candidates also put on face masks and were sparsely positioned in the rooms as measures to fight the spread of Covid.

At St Patrick’s Secondary School in Chiradzulu and Addolorata Catholic School in Thyolo, we found everything in place despite that there was light rain falling.

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One of the supervisors at St Patrick’s Secondary School centre, Gideon Msonkho, said 387 candidates were sitting the examinations.

“We did not have any challenges. All the required materials are available,” Msonkho said.

During our visit to Masongola Secondary School in Zomba, we were also told by the school’s Deputy Head Teacher, Kondwawaka Saka, that everything was in place.

An examination supervisor at Likangala Secondary School centre, Mary Maganga, said by 8am, everything was set for the candidates to start taking the examinations.

In Mzuzu, there was no major setback on the first day.

Centre supervisor for Katoto Secondary School Gilbert Madise, whose school has 427 candidates, said they started on time and that security was tight.

“Being the first day, it is difficult to know the total or average number of candidates who are absent,” Madise said.

Civil Society Education Coalition Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe said in an interview Tuesday that he hopes the administration of the examinations will also end on a good note.

“We have noted that in some schools, some learners are writing examinations sitting on chairs without desks, which is not fair to them. We want this challenge addressed if the examinations are to be fair to all learners,” Kondowe said.

Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje said warned that authorities will act strongly on anyone who attempts to cheat in the exams.

NyaLonje visited a number of examination centres in Lilongwe to appreciate the progress there.

“So far in the schools that we have visited, everything is in place except for Kamuzu Palace Community Day Secondary School which had three classes where candidates were writing exams without desks.

“The situation is unfortunate and we have advised the school’s authorities to fetch some desks from within the neighbouring schools so that they give the candidates a conducive environment for taking their examinations,” NyaLonje said.

Of the 159,946 candidates that are sitting this year’s JCE examinations, 80,357 are female while 79,589 are male.

In 2016, the government abolished JCE examinations following recommendations under the Public Sector Reforms which established that it would save about K2 billion in public funds.

The Tonse Alliance administration re-introduced the tests two years ago.

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