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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

EXAMINATIONS ADMINISTRATION

OVERVIEW OF EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL OF ZAMBIA

Q. What is the role of the Examinations Council of Zambia?

A. The Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) is a body corporate established in 1983 by  an Act of Parliament Chapter 137 of the Laws of  Zambia with a mandate to conduct school examinations, teacher training examinations as well as Technical Education, Vocational and Enterprenuership Training Examinations. The ECZ has been in existences as a secretariat since 1987. The governance structures is such that the organisation has a policy making body which is the Council comprising of 14 councillors appointed by the Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education. This policy body operates through various committees of Council.

REGISTRATION OF EXAMINATION CENTRE

Q. Which institutions are eligible to apply for examination centre status?

Answer: For a start, there are two types of institutions; we have government and private institutions. Either of them, can register to be an examination centres. However, there are rules and regulations to being an examination centre which must be followed in the application process.

Q. What are the requirements to be granted an examination centre status?

A. The following requirements will be important for the DEBS and PEOs to assess the suitability of an institution to be granted the centre status. The requisites include availability a secure strong room, lockable steel trunks, specialised rooms for Home Economics, Art and Music and fully equipped Science Laboratory. Others are of adequate infrastructure (classrooms), qualified teachers for the level and the school must be following an appropriate curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education.

Q. What is the prescribed procedure for registration of examination centre status?

A. For Government institutions, a school can apply to be an examination centre via the relevant channels. For example, if a school feels they have pupils in Grade six and want to be an examination centre next year, the School must apply before June. Their application must be initiated by the Head of the School who will invite the District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) to come and inspect that the School facilities are adequate for them to be granted the examination centre status.  Once the DEBS team has inspected the institution and are satisfied, then they will go to the PEO office and the PEO will send the team further down to verify what the other standards officers at district level have down. Once the PEO is convinced that all the requirements are in place, the PEO now submits a report to the ECZ and the Report is signed in person by the PEO. The relevant committee at ECZ assesses the report and once they are satisfied, an examination centre status is granted to the institution.

For private institutions- the requirements are more less the same as government schools. However, for a private school, the application must be submitted to ECZ accompanied by a Certificate of Registration to practice as a school issued by the Minister of Education, Science, vocational Training and Early Education. In the absence of that, even if the school has other requirements that an ordinary government school has, they cannot be registered as an examination centre.

Q. Which Committees Exists at ECZ to assess the suitability to grant a School an examination centre status?

A. The Committees are;

  • Basic Committee for Grade 7 and Grade 9
  • School Certificate Committee for Grade 12
  • Teacher Education Committee for Colleges of Education

Once the school has been granted the Examination Centre Status, the Code is then allocated to the school and as such it is duly allowed to present candidates for examination.

Q. What is the validity of examination centre status?

A. The validity of an examination centre status for government schools is guaranteed as long as there is no deteriorating security infrastructure and the enrolment figures at the School are not below the minimum number required to exist as an examination centre. However, for private schools, the examination centre status is valid every year. It is a requirement by the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and early education that all private schools must renew their Certificate of Registration. And as such, the ECZ will need the Certificate of Registration to process the application for examination centre status for private schools annually.

Q. What would be the consequences of losing an examination centre status?

A. The consequence is that the school cannot present candidates to write an examination. The school has to secure an alternative centre for its candidates to write an examination which is not encouraged. This becomes an inconvenience to the candidates who might be subjected to conditions that they are not used to. The results obviously, is poor performance from the candidates. Once the examination centre status is lost, the school will not be granted centre status for a period of two years until such a time that they meet the minimum requirements. 

REGISTRATION OF CANDIDATES

Q. When is a candidate said to have been registered for an examination?

A. The registration for any examination is complete only when a candidate details has fulfilled the following,

i.              The candidate details have been captured in full by the school

ii.            The candidate has paid the relevant examination fees where applicable

iii.            The entries have been accepted by the Examinations Council of Zambia

The three sets of requirements must be met for a candidate to be duly registered for any examination conducted by the ECZ.  Candidates are also encouraged to verify the registration details to avoid queries on mispelt candidates details or capturing incorrect subjects.

Q. Who is an under protest candidate?

A. An under protest candidate is a candidate who is duly registered for the examination but at the time of examination they write an additional subject. In short, the candidate is writing a subject that they did register for. Under protest candidates are registered candidates but write an additional subject they did not enter for during the registration period. In such instances, results are only released after paying penalty fees for writing a subject the candidate never registered for.

Q. Who is an Illegal candidate?

A. An illegal candidate is a candidate who is totally not registered for the examination. The candidate details are no where in the ECZ database. The candidate did not register at school level. The results are only released after follow ups are made and in making those follow up, the candidates pays the relevant penalty fees to have the results released.

ALLOCATION OF EXAMINATION NUMBERS

Q. How does ECZ allocate examination numbers at Grade 7, 9 and GCE?

A. At Grade7, the examination number at this are allocated at the time of registration and the number is only valid during that year. The Grade nine examination number is  allocated to internal and external candidates in the year of examination. The same examination number will be used when writing the Grade 12 School Certificate Examination (internal). 

At Grade Twelve (internal)

It should be noted that the Grade nine examination number is valid for five years after it has been allocated. The candidates are only allowed to enter for the examination using this number in the stipulated time. Accordingly, candidates entering to sit for the Grade 12 School Certificate Examination (internal candidates) are not allocated new examination numbers. They use the examination numbers which were allocated to them in Grade nine. In other words, they carry forward their Grade nine examination to the High School. For Example, a candidate who sits for Grade 9 examination in 2010 is only expected to write her/his Grade 12 examinations in 2013. However, in the event that a candidate becomes pregnant or drops out of school due to other reasons, these candidates are allowed to re-enter and sit for the Grade 12 School Certificate Examination and would use their Grade nine examination number in 2014 or 2015 as the number is still valid. Beyond 2015, the examination number becomes invalid (expires).

However, for candidates who drop out of school due to various reasons after they have duly registered for the examination, the Head of the school/ centre are required to inform the Director- Examinations Council of Zambia not later than 31st December in the year of the examination in order for these candidates to be considered for the examination within the stipulated period. After the stipulated five years which is the validity period of the examination numbers, candidates wishing to write Grade 12 examination are advised to register for GCE (External) examination and will be issued with a new examination number which is valid for only one year.

Q. What is the validity period of the School Examination number at Grade 7, 9 and Grade 12/ GCE?

A. The Grade 7 Examination number is only validity in the year that it is allocated. In other words, it is valid for one year. The Grade nine examination number is valid for five years after it has been allocated. The candidates are only allowed to enter for the examination using this number in the stipulated time. Accordingly, candidates entering to sit for the Grade 12 School Certificate Examination (internal candidates) are not allocated new examination numbers. They use the examination numbers which were allocated to them in Grade nine. In other words, they carry forward their Grade nine examination to the High School.

Q. What is referred to as    - Premature examination number?

A. This is an examination number that is presented for the examination before it is due. The word ‘Premature’ means it is coming earlier before it is due. For instance, the number that was allocated at Grade 9 is the same number that will be used during the Grade 12 examination- if candidates write an examination a year before, it will be rejected and flashed out by the ECZ system. The ECZ does not  encourage candidates to write examination pre-maturely or use premature examination number. Candidates presenting themselves for examination need to undergo a period of tuition or instruction in line with the curriculum approved by the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education.

Q. What is an Invalid examination number?

A. This is a number which does not exist in the ECZ database and is presented for examination. Any candidate who writes an examination using this number is an illegal candidate.

REGISTERING FOR SUBJECTS

Q. Why is verification of candidate details important?

A. Verification of candidates’ details is done at school level. In verifying, we are implying that the candidate is ensuring that details provided are correct. It ensures that you check whether the names and subjects captured at registration are correct. Remember, if the name has not been correctly captured at the time of registration and verification, it will filter through to the issuance of a certificate. For us at ECZ, the names of the candidates, comes to ECZ as captured by the School. The ECZ does not write any candidates name or details. The Council process the entries as they are submitted by schools.  The school gives us the names of the candidates registered for examinations. The ECZ does not change any details that are submitted for examination registration. 

Q. What is the maximum number of subjects a GCE candidate can register for and why?

A. The candidate is allowed to write a maximum of four subjects under the GCE examinations. The GCE candidate is a candidate who has gone through the system and they already attempted to write an examination as school certificate candidates (internal candidate) and did not make the grade. And now they want to improve on their grade.

The Premise for the Council is that these candidates maybe are working, people who are not in a regular school and people who are studying on their own. Because they are studying on their own, the ECZ does not want to burden them. The very fact that for a start they did not make the grade, and now they want to improve is a clear indication that they need more help. And if that help is not coming, they are bound to do even worse. Therefore, the Council policy restrict the number to four so that the candidates can only concentrate on the few four subjects that they are going to take. 

Q. Why should a candidate write all the components of the subjects?

A. In different subjects, the ECZ is examining different skills to award a candidate with a grade. For instance, Mathematics at Grade 9 level has two components, Papers 1 and 2, each marked out of 50. The skills that are being tested in the two papers are completely different. So for ECZ to ensure that the candidate has met the requirements for the award of a good grade in mathematics, the Council requires that the candidate sits both papers. This is because the ECZ is examining different skills in the two papers. If a candidate writes one component, ECZ will not award a grade because the candidate has not been examined in the other skills that the Council was looking for in the other paper.

EXAMINATION RESULTS

Q. Who is responsible for announcing examination results?

A. The Minister of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education is responsible for announcing the School examination results. The ECZ prepares all the statistics for the examinations and avail them to the Minister for publicity. The results are widely publicised in the media. After the announcements, the candidate is free to collect the results at the school/ examination centre.

Q. How does the Council release results for?

A. Once the Mister has announced the different statistics of the Results, the ECZ sends the results to different schools countrywide. The candidates can now collect the results from the schools.

Q. What is the prescribed channel for lodging in results queries and receiving feedback?

A. Firstly, when the results have been sent to schools, the head of the school should take the trouble to check  the results received incase there is an omission that might have been overlooked at the time of registration.   The school writes to ECZ for various queries.

Secondly, if the certificate has been issued, name correction becomes almost impossible. The ECZ simply advises the candidate to go the courts for a legal document. However, in exceptional circumstances, name correction on the certificate might be granted upon following a prescribed procedure and upon recommendation from the School.

The following CANNOT be DONE once the CERTIFICATE has been issued by the ECZ. These include insertion of an initial, addition of a new name and change of one or both first and surname. The Examinations Council of Zambia can only CORRECT  the name on the Certificate upon recommendation and letter from the School. 

Q. What is the process for querying Grades?

A. The query should be lodged through the school, who in turn writes to the ECZ. The feedback is received from the school. The ECZ will not process any query that is directly lodged by a candidate. The Process is simplifies in the table below:

 

Candidates Registered through the examination centre 

Contact the Head of School and submit query. If applicable, fill  out the appropriate forms. 

The Query is then sent to the Examinations Council of Zambia. Upon receipt, the ECZ through the relevant department process the query. Appropriate  adjustment are then made to the query where necessary

After the query has been processed, the ECZ sends response back to the School.  

The candidate receives feedback from the School

 

Q. What are the deadlines for submitting a query to ECZ?

A. The deadlines are as follows

·         Grade 7   -31ST March each year

·         Grade 9    -30TH April each year

·         Grade 12/GCE   -31st May each year.

·         Teacher Education - 30TH April each year

It should be noted that NO examination query shall be allowed after the deadline.

CERTIFICATION

Q. Why is certification of Results done?

A. This exercise is done only to results awarded by the examinations Council of Zambia. Certification of results is conducted to confirm that the results the candidate has on his/ her certificate/ statement of results are genuine. The results are compared to the ECZ has in the data base. The requirements will include a clear copy of the certificate or statement of results.

NOTE: Statements of results can only be certified if the certificates for that year have not been dispatched by the ECZ. Certification of results attract a payment which the candidate has to settle at ECZ.

Q. How are certificates released to the candidates?

A. According to the ECZ Service Charter, the printing of certificates usually takes place six months after the release of examination results at different levels. Once there printed, the certificates are sent to schools countrywide. Candidates are encouraged to collect their certificates at the schools/ examination centres they wrote their examinations from and not ECZ.

Q. Why are Grade 12/GCE certificates not combined like at Grade 9 and Teacher Education?

A. As a matter of procedure, a Certificate is issued at one sitting. What this implies is that a Certificate is issued in the subjects that a candidate sits for. It is illogical to combine certificates as the examination numbers and year of examinations are different. At Grade 9 level, only statements of results are combined to come up with a certificate. It is requirement for a candidate to be in possession of Grade 9 certificate to sit for Grade 12 Examination.

Q. What is the procedure for replacement of a certificate?

A. For the ECZ to issues a duplicate certificate, they will need the following documents from the candidates; these are the police report, a sworn in Affidavit from the court of law. The candidate is also made to pay a fee to enable ECZ process the certificate as stipulated in document titled; services provided by the Council.

Q. What is the procedure for replacement of a statement of Result?

A. Replacement is done when a candidate has lost the original statement of Result.  For the ECZ to issue a duplicate statement of certificate, they will require a police report and a sworn-in-affidavit. There is also a payment for replacement of statement of result.

Q. What are the rules for combination of Grade 9 Results?

A. The combination of Grade 9 results is done in order for the candidates to have a certificate to proceed to Grade 10. The ECZ will require that the candidate produces the statements of results from school.

The rules for combining statement of results are such that the first sitting should be internal and second and third sittings should be external. In an event that the first sitting is external, the second and third sittings should be external. Resitting should be done within two years. The candidate is also charged a fee to facilitate the processing of the statement of result. Combination of Grade 12 certificates or statements of results is not done. The candidate is awarded a certificate for each sitting for Grade 12/ GCE examination.

EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE

Q. What is the examination malpractice?

A. Examination malpractice is the giving or receiving of unauthorised help before, during and after an examination to gain an unfair advantage in an examination or in some cases to place the candidate at a disadvantage. In short, examination malpractice is an irregularity. Other school of thought define examination malpractice as misconduct, examination cheating, unfair practice, and dishonest conduct during the examination period.

Q. What could be the possible forms of examination malpractice?

A. There are several forms of examination malpractices. The most common form include the smuggling in of unauthorised materials into the examination room, Impersonation, assistance from examination stakeholders, electronically assisted examination malpractices,  Irregular Activities in the examination halls, destructive manoeuvres, Inscription and celebrity/ Personality links.

Q. What could be the causes and effects of examination malpractice?

A. The examination in examination have mainly contributed to the overall deterioration of the standard of education in our country. The malpractices are commonly committed in examination at the pre-conduct, conduct and evaluation stages. Different agents are involved and cause examination malpractice. These include the following;

  • Appointment of choice invigilating staff- -->Supervisory staff is unfairly selected on the basis of nepotism .They are not devoted to their duties.
  • Poor paper setting: paper setters are mostly untrained and unaware of modern approaches to assessment. The exam papers are hardly representative of the entire curriculum.
  • Scoring of papers: Examiners hardly receive any instructions for scoring the papers, they prefer to check the papers at home and that most markers mark one paper in only 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Low salary level for invigilators and examination officials. They are provided with very low facility.
  • Examination centers are without rules- There is no check who should be allowed and who should not be allowed.
  • Parents involvement- parents approach invigilating staff, provide bribe and gifts.
  • Negligence of invigilators- Teachers/supervisors are non-vigilant during supervision. They allow mobile, watchman to provide cheating to students.
  • High stakes of Examination- Students freely commit unfair means by the force of pistol and son on.
  • Students personal factors-Inadequate preparation and desire to pass at all cost. Poor preparation promotes poor performance.
  • Lack of school resources- Overcrowded examination centres; Not enough space; Poor seating arrangement; No observational strategies.
  • Defunct security- Police also provide help and unable to ensure security; Law enforcing agencies not dealt with impersonation act etc set the culprit free after taking bribe; Laxity in prosecuting offenders; and lack of serious penalty for past offenders.
  • Teachers role- Gross inadequacy of qualified teachers in our schools; Lack of devotion to their profession; Unawareness towards teaching learning objectives; not properly trained, no capacity building and Not providing moral training to students.

Some of the effects of examination malpractices among others include; Discourage good candidates from studying hard, Denies innocent students’ opportunity for admission, Delays the processing of examinations scores and grades; Dissatisfies candidates; and Decreases job efficiency

Q. What is the penalty if you have been found to have engaged in examination malpractice?

A. If there is enough which prove that the candidate has engaged in examination malpractice, the penalty would include nullification of results in all subjects and being excluded from writing any examination conducted by ECZ for a period of two years. In most cases, the candidate maybe fined or jailed by the courts of law.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

 Q: How many marks do I need to obtain a Grade 1 pass at Grade 12 level?

Answer: It is not the policy of the Council to publicise the different grade boundaries.  Suffice to say that the marks for Grade I may vary from one subject area to another but for all subjects, a Grade I denotes outstanding performance.

Q:  My son has been entered for Mathematics but it does not appear on his timetable. How can the correction be made?

A:  If a subject does not appear on the candidate’s timetable it means that he is not registered for that examination.  By the time the timetable is issued, it is too late for subjects to be added or for any registration amendment to be effected.  We suggest Candidates are advised that when registration is in progress that they request from the school/centre a copy of their registration details (available in the Subjects Registered Report) that the information may be checked and confirmed prior to the deadline date. All queries about the registration of candidates should be addressed first to the school/centre for onward transmission to the ECZ.

Q: I believe that I should have gotten a higher grade in my Mathematics examination.  How can I query or seek a review of the results?

A:   A candidate attending a school or full-time educational institution is required to complete the appropriate form at the school.   Only requests for a script review (i.e. a remarking of the script) attract a fee.  General enquiries into results are free of charge.

Q: I am visually impaired and read Braille.  Is there any possibility that I could write the ECZ examinations?

A:  Braille and enlarged print question papers are provided for candidates who require it.  The request for Special Assessment Arrangements and the required documentation must be received from the Provincial Education in your local on office by the stipulated deadline for onward transmission to ECZ.

Q:  Is there an alternative examination for candidates who fall ill and unable to sit the examination?

A:   No – a subject is offered only once at any sitting.

 

Q:   How much does it cost to register for a subject offered by ECZ ?

 

A: The scale of fees provides the costs for the range of examinations offered by the Council. In addition to the fees charged by the Council and in most instances, the examination centre may also impose local fees to off-set administrative and other processing costs.

Q:  May I pay online for Transcripts, syllabuses or other products offered by the ECZ?

A: Payment online by credit card for products and services should become a reality before the end of 2013.  When the facility is put in place, the details will be posted on the website.  In the interim, the methods of payment are by Bank Drafts, and International Postal Money Orders. Cash and cheques may be accepted for purchases made directly at the Council’s Headquarters in Barbados and at its offices in Jamaica.

Q:  I am planning a family vacation and would like to know the dates of the ECZ examinations. How can I find out these dates?

 

A: final Timetables for examinations may be found on the Council’s website, www.exams-council.org.zm . You may also contact your Local Provincial Education office for information pertaining to examination dates.

Q:  Where may I obtain a list of the subjects offered by ECZ?

A:  Subject offerings may be accessed from the website: www.exams-council.org.zm.  The list of subjects can also be obtained from any Local Provincial office.

Q:  The date of birth on my certificate is incorrect. How can it be corrected?

A:  The original certificate issued by ECZ together with a certified copy of the candidate’s Birth Certificate and a Certificate Amendment Fee, should be submitted to the ECZ. 

Q:   I am not attending any school or part-time educational institution but want to register for GCE examinations.  May I do so in the Online Registration System on the Council’s website?

A: The ECZ is working towards registering candidates online. The project would be actualised soon and publicity would be done. However, at the moment all registration must be done through an approved examination centre.  Contact your Local Provincial office who would be able to provide a list of approved examination centres.

Q: Two subjects on my timetable are scheduled to be administered on the same day during the same session.  Can this clash be resolved?

A: The Timetables are prepared in such a way that the timings for writing an examination do not clash. However, in an event where the papers of two subjects offered by the Council clash on a candidate’s timetable, special arrangements may be made by the Provincial office in consultation with the ECZ to enable the candidate to write both examinations on the same day.  In order to avoid clashes, candidates are advised to consult the Council’s master timetables, final, before registering for subjects.

Q:   I cannot locate my ECZ certificate. How may I obtain another copy?

A: A candidate whose certificate has been lost, stolen or damaged may apply for a replacement certificate on the relevant application form. The form is obtained at the Council Offices.   When completed, the application form should be sent to the ECZ.  The cost of a replacement certificate is given in the scale of fees. The requirement are a police Report, a sworn in-affidavit and either a photocopy of the certificate or letter from the School confirming that the candidate collected his/her certificate.

Q:   I want to apply for employment but my certificate is not yet out. I have checked and confirmed with my school. I only have the Results transcript from ECZ. Can I use the results transcript?

A. Yes. The transcript can be used to apply for employment or for admission at tertiary institutions. The transcript is a testimonial that you sat for the examination conducted by ECZ. According to the ECZ service Charter, Certificates are printed six months after the release of examination results. However, when the certificates have been printed and dispatched to schools, No transcript shall be used.  At this stage onward, the ECZ will never certify a copy of the results transcript but rather a Certificate. 

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