Writing of Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations started yesterday across the country with most schools that we inspected having everything in place, including measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
However, other centres had various problems which impinged on the smooth start of the examination process.
The first paper for the candidates was Agriculture Practical.
Prior to starting writing the examination, students were seen fumbling for notes in their books in last-ditch efforts to keep themselves fresh for the test.
Head teacher for Chichiri Secondary School in Blantyre Urban, Allen Mjima, said writing the examinations—administered by the Malawi Examinations Board (Maneb)—had started without any problems.
“Maneb gave us a list of possible materials to buy in advance for practical examinations. We did that and all the materials are here,” Mjima said.
One of candidates at the school, Fahad Kwisongole, said he was ready for the examinations having been preparing for the same from the time schools got closed as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have been in study circles preparing for these examinations even when schools were closed, so we are ready,” Kwisongole said.
In other parts of the country, the writing the examinations had also generally started on a positive note with schools reporting that materials required for the practical test which started at 10 am were readily in place.
However, in Mzuzu City, there were some delays in the starting of the examinations as collection of papers from the distribution centre had to await the arrival of security personnel who came late at the centre.
Our spot-checks in various examination centres also found that some Covid-19 preventive measures such as hand washing and social distancing were not being followed.
Some schools in the city started administering the first examination paper 30 minutes after the official time directed by Maneb.
In an interview, Head teacher of St Peters Catholic Secondary School, Kelvin Mughogho, admitted that students were scrambling to get into the first session of the examinations, thereby failing to observe social distancing.
“Otherwise, writing the examinations has started well. The only problem was that the students were failing to observe social distancing but we made sure that they washed their hands,” Mughogho said.
At least 154,000 candidates are expected to write MSCE examinations this year.