By Feston Malekezo, Imam Wali, Thomas Kachere & Jarson Malowa
Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations started without incident across the country Tuesday, with Education Minister Agnes NyaLonje expressing satisfaction with administration of the examinations.
In Mzuzu, examination centres and security agents left no stone unturned in tightening examinations’ security.
Covid preventative measures were also followed, with buckets of water and, in some cases, hand sanitisers being put at the disposal of candidates as one way of waving off coronavirus infections.
Examinations administration started with practical papers in all cluster centres.
Spot-checks at Katoto Secondary School, St Peters Catholic Secondary School and Target Private Secondary School revealed that students were at different degrees of last-minute preparation, with some doing touch ups, receiving their examination identification cards or holding discussions.
Seventeen-year- o l d Vitumbiko Nyirenda from Target Private School, which has 870 candidates, said she was fancying her chances of being selected to a university.
“It has been my dream to study nursing and midwifery and the only way I can achieve that dream is to pass the examinations with flying colours. I am very confident that I will do well because I have prepared thoroughly for the examinations,” she said.
Prince Kagwira, a journalist-in-the-making, said he was sure that, gauging by levels of preparation, he would score 17 points in the national exam.
“I am inspired by my brother, who scored 17 points at MSCE level. I want to do better than him,” he said.
In Zomba, which happens to be the headquarters of examinations administrator Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb), examinations administration started smoothly.
Spot-checks at Police, Likangala, Masongola and Malindi secondary schools revealed that both officials and candidates were prepared.
Police Secondary School Head teacher Alexander Sinto said he did not anticipate any trouble from 97 internal candidates and 41 external candidates who were set to sit examinations at the centre.
“In fact, today [Tuesday], we are having candidates from Police Secondary School only. Thereafter, the school will also host candidates from High Profile Private Secondary School and we do not anticipate any trouble,” he said.
As Masongola Secondary School, 229 candidates were expected to sit examinations, according to head teacher Kondwawaka Saka.
“We have done very well, in terms of organisation and time management,” Saka said.
In Blantyre, just like other administrative cities of the country, examinations started on a good note.
Some of the candidates The Daily Times spoke to from Chichiri Secondary school, Pact and Blantyre Secondary School said they were ready for the examinations.
One of the candidates, Lucy Psyontha from Chichiri Intensive, said she could not wait for the day examination results would be announced.
“I have done my homework,” she said.
In the Central Region, NyaLonje visited examination centres such as Dedza Secondary School, Umbwi Secondary School and Mchisu Community Day Secondary School.
“The expectation of every Malawian is that these examinations will go as examinations ought to go; no cheating, stealing, thieving of examination materials and, so far, there has been no single notification of that. We are confident that the examination will start and finish well,” she said.
NyaLonje said her ministry was committed to ensuring that trust in national examinations was restored.
“It is a call to maintain the quality of education. If the country is to get recognised regionally and internationally as one that passes its students through crooked means, then the whole education system in the country is in drain; as such, that is not the interest of the country,” NyaLonje said.
Maneb spokesperson Mayamiko Chiwaya said 128,993 candidates were on course to sitting MSCE examinations.
“Be assured that there will be no room for cheating as security has been tightened,” she said.
Meanwhile, quality education expert Benedicto Kondowe has proposed that Maneb should not relent on routine security checks to safeguard the reputation of national examinations.
“This way, we will help stakeholders treat examinations as an assessment tool for grading candidates to gauge if they have requisite competences,” he said.