The Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) with the support of the Ministry of General Education (MOGE) has trained a total of (number) examiners across Zambia in order to have sufficient personnel that will participate in the marking of the School Certificate and General Certificate of Education Examinations. The number of examiners before stood at (number) examiners.
ECZ is working out ways to improve the marking exercise knowing that it is a delicate process that demands efficiency and effective management of the various stages involved. In so doing a proposal has been put forward to decentralise the marking of the GCE examination. The decentralised marking at GCE level will be piloted this year in all the ten (10) provinces of Zambia in subjects that have high candidature (English, Mathematics, Science, Biology and Civic Education). Other subjects will be marked based on the concentration of markers in the province.
The marking of examinations at this level has been centralised and arising from this, a number of challenges have been noted which The effective management and administration of examinations in Zambia has been at the heart of the Examinations Council of Zambia. Mandated to set and conduct examinations and award certificates to deserving candidates, the ECZ has transformed many systems and processes by introducing among them the use of ICTs in examination administration. Online systems have been developed and rolled out. The accumulation of GCE certificates has been made possible through such innovations. Clients can now be served in a conducive environment through the opening of service centres in Lusaka and Kitwe and are able to communicate with ECZ through various platforms such as the facebook page, toll free line and access results via short messaging system (SMS). Beginning this year (2017), the ECZ separated the Junior Secondary School leaving examination for internal and external and introduced a separate Grade 9 external examination that will run this year in July/ August 2017. Just as in 2014, ECZ separated the General Certificate of Education Examination from the School Certificate Examinations. This was consultatively done and meant to meet the growing demand of candidates who desired to improve their qualifications at this level who could not do so earlier due to limited space in school that could not allow both GCE and internal candidates to be accommodated in the same examination rooms. This delinking was also thought of as a remedy to curb examination malpractices that took place when the examinations were conducted jointly. ECZ has further introduction the use of one examination number to be used to sit for examinations at grades 9 and 12 effective 2018. Therefore, in order to manage the examination were candidates may have different examination numbers, ECZ introduced a separate grade 9 external examinations that will help trace the progression rate of candidates and better run examinations at this level. the decentralisation seeks to address. Notably, the marking exercise sometimes extends into time when schools are in session. This affects the teaching time for the markers many of whom are current teaching staff. The marking usually extends over the Christmas and New Year period which affects family time for most examiners. The candidature has been increasing thereby calling for increased numbers of examiners to mark the examinations which poses a challenge to find suitable venues with facilities to accommodate examiners. ECZ has also been paying huge amounts of money to institutions that are used as marking centres in terms of food and accommodation instead of freeing money to help increase the examiner’s allowances which may in the near future become unsustainable.
To deal with these challenges and move from centralised systems ECZ thought it wise to introduce marking of GCE in provinces. With the increase in number of examiners, it is expected that the duration of the marking exercise will be shortened, ultimately reducing the examination processing period and also the cost associated with the marking thereby leading to the early release of results.