Government bans Form One entrance tests

Nyemudzai Kakore Herald Reporter
Government has banned Form One entrance tests because most school heads were using them to raise cash and not to properly screen pupils.The ban comes a few weeks before most secondary schools conduct entrance tests in which varying amounts of non-refundable fees are demanded from prospective pupils.

In an interview, acting Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Mr Rogers Sisimayi said: “The policy position of the ministry is very clear. Schools are supposed to enrol Form One pupils on the basis of their Grade Seven results. What is the purpose of Grade Seven examinations if they are not used for Form One entrance? We communicated with schools through the normal channels and that is in our written circulars.”

Mr Sisimayi said schools were fleecing parents of their hard-earned cash by turning entrance tests into a business.
He said children from low-income families could not afford prohibitive fees charged for entrance exams, thereby widening the social gap.

“Entrance tests had become a fundraising business, which Government wants to avoid at all costs. We are now following Government policy of the pro-poor agenda.”

A survey by The Herald showed that private and mission schools were preparing to hold the annual mid-year interviews process that attracts thousands of prospective pupils countrywide.

Some schools invite as many as 2 500 pupils for interviews, yet they can accommodate about  100. An average can invite over 1 000 pupils and charge each between US$30 and US$40 to sit for the tests.

The best schools attract as many as 2 500 pupils and charge between US$40 and US$50.

Mr Sisimayi said any school that defies the Government directive would be dealt with accordingly.

“Schools are aware of the ministry’s position and the conduct of civil servants is guided by the provision of Statutory Instrument 1 of 2001 which partly reads, ‘failure to obey an instruction by one in a position of authority is an act of misconduct’,” said Mr Sisimayi.

“We will cross the bridge when we get there should schools defy Government’s directive”.

The directive on entrants could disrupt preparations for next year’s class of high school beginners that are normally concluded before the end of the second term.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association president and Apex council team leader Mr Richard Gundani agreed with Government’s position.

“It is a positive development as it brings order in the form one recruitment exercise. Most schools were setting their own standards which increased the cost of education. As a result, some pupils were failing to access quality education,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s revered education sector is being undone by chaos that includes forced attendance of holiday and extra lessons, as well as incentives paid to teachers over and above their salaries.

Government recently banned all holiday lessons – except for examination classes – as well as teachers’ incentives.

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  • nyams

    A good move. Parents must appreciate this decision which go a long way in dealing with corrupt tendencies within the ministry.

  • $21812056

    I agree with this decision, but i feel the results for grade 7 must know be released much more earlier to allow for parents to
    1. secure form one places for their children on time.
    2. To raise the school fees and tuition for the respective school
    3. To buy uniforms on time.

    • mpengo

      Agree with it totally too.

      Entrance exams & interviews had always been there IT IS PAYING FOR THEM by high numbers of prospective that became questionable.

      It should not be a fundraising exercise.

      • $21812056

        I agree. I think the exams though might still be necessary because our grade 7 exams are not very good at discriminating students. maybe they should have pegged the fee at 2-5 USD. Just to cover the cost of the paper and marking.

    • Juliet Mabika

      The problem has not been solved at all. This will make it easier for headmasters in good secondary schools to take bribes. Selection will be about money not fair screening. If they are going to tackle corrution….. there should be zero tolerance for it, even within the govt itself.

  • Hwati Ngavi

    A very good move indeed. The next step should be to ban schools from the practice of accepting only those grade seven applicants with the highest exam results, even if the child involved comes from just across the road. The time to level the playing field in real teaching and learning is now and one hopes that there will be no sacred cows who will be excused, and made immune to this decision. Church schools, Trust schools and all, must adhere to this directive. Excessively high fees charged in some Trusts run institutions should be investigated to establish whether the figures are not just doctored to effect a discriminatory tariff against certain classes of learners. Amounts charged should tally with the needs of the school in terms of services offered to learners, sporting facilities, equipment such as books and laboratory resources, necessary maintenance or renovation and construction of infrastructure to enhahnce the learners’ experience, recreational and entertainment provisions etc.

    • Chaporonga

      yes ndiwe wega muZimbo anofunga neni tiri two

  • Mimi

    So now Mr Sisimayi has found it convenient to make this unwarranted announcement. I totally disagree with the Ministry’s decision for the reasons I shall outline. It is a known fact that government has failed totally to cater for the schools’ needs and even if the schools hold Form I interviews for purposes of fundraising there is nothing wrong with this approach. After all if a child is good and is a performer he/she will still perform. It gives schools good time to prepare for the beginning of the 1st term as government results always come out late anyway. And why is Sisimayi now making this crazy announcement instead of the usual Dokora. I submit that government is misleading and forcing schools to adhere to unworkable solutions. Furthermore is the fact that people like Mr Sisimayi’s children/grandchildren will never school in Zimbabwean schools but outside the country. Parents should have a right to do what is right and best for their children and their children’s schools. It is just fair.

    • grecko

      I respect your views Mimi but if you look at the statistics provided, why would a school invite 2000 pupils when they will only take 100. And its a known fact that the top schools will not just admit ant pupil unless you are really rich or influencial or you pay bribe. Someone earlier suggested they shld charge less, 40 bucks is too much, iyo A’level exam i dont thnk inocvika ipapo. Charge only admin charges, mayb 5 bucks or less and invite a reasonable nummber to entrance tests. What you are saying that gvt has failed to provide so they shld allow schs to bribe parents, I only agree with the first part, gvt has failed, but if schs want to make money, why not start some proper fundraisng projects like sports, braaais, dinners, piggery/chickens/beef/tuckshops/gardening/, kwete kutorerawo vanhu vari kuchema coz of the same gvt’s failures

  • mmoyo

    same thing should be done for ECD at primary level.

  • Mugoni

    This move is ridiculous… The best schools attract a lot of students, so you need something more stringent than Grade 7 results. No one is being forced to apply for these entrance exams, let good schools maintain their excellence.

    • Baba V

      Hameno kuti vanhu vanodeyi shuwa. Stop criticising evrthing the gvt does because you hate Zanu Pf. See reason. This idea serves the poor because those who can afford can still take their kids out the cou try. This idea is a noble idea which is meant to stop schools from fleecing parents. Wht is the purpose of grade 7 results then if they are not going to be used for selection purposes? Stop being cry babes on everything and see reason. Bravo gvt.i love this initiative

  • Tonderai1

    This could also be considered as an indictment of depreciating primary school standards giving Grade Seven pupils random results. Parents should have the freedom of choice to select a secondary school with a good reputation capable of guaranteed best results for their children, without being forced to enter schools with low standards induced by imposed students of poor quality dragging the rest of school down.

    • Chaporonga

      nyarara iwe vamwe vataure, grade seven results are enough to do that. We are talking of Zimbabwe not particular schools.

  • Judas Iscariot

    This regime does not want to get involved in areas where pple really need govt intervention,areas like fighting corruption,helping companies grow, so they can create employment rather than going out of business.Helping its companies like ZESA with modern technology and equipment so they can meet demand.Spent time making your Zim Asset a reality, so we can start creating the millions of jobs you promised us.Stop being worried about our cars,the type of fuel we should use, and now how schools should enroll their students.

  • Proud Zimbo

    Hope we wnt have a situation whereby 400 pupils with 4 Units at grade 7 come to a certain school all at once. Then how is the headmaster expected to handle those parents ?
    Highest bidder ?

    Solution – Grade 7 results shoild also highlight the exact mark the student got. Yes he had 1 point in Math but he had a 49/50 etc so it becomes easier for the schools to select .. than to continue bunching the results in point system.

  • Economic Police

    Either this is a good thing or its going to be very very bad…With the current rate of corruption in Zimbabwe millions of dollars will exchange hands in kickbacks and bribes for form one places in December 2014. This also means more work for Zimsec markers. They have to make sure results are out by Mid November to enable parents to Run around looking for schools. I think GOVT should bring back that Lower 6th selection system that used to be done in the 90s and before this time for form one selection

  • masharks

    Hata off to the minister tanga tanzwa nekubirwa nembavha idzi

  • job bhutsu

    Saka all those who said ana Kutama were good schools , lets wait five years and see

  • Sadombo

    This is a good move

  • ndoronya

    I support this move. We were fade up with the behaviour of some school authorities

  • TT

    We still need to have these exams, for free and only those accepted will pay acceptance fee

  • Mimi

    I will certainly be hurt if my contributition to this article is not printed for all to see. There is always a good and bad side to every story. Fair is fair. My belief is that these exams are a fair practice. Limitation can be made on how many candidates are interviewed but the truth is that they have served a good purpose and are generally not a bad idea. Government itself is failing totally to cater for and pay for government employees that have now been overtaken by SDA’s. So my question is, so long as the funds gotten from these interviews are used for the right purpose i.e. the school advancement, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT????

    • Prevailer

      Mimi, please. The end never justifies the means. Just imagine a thief arguing in court that he snatched your pace in order to save his starving children. Would you accept that he be set free because his purpose was noble – saving lives??

      Schools, and indeed all institutions providing services to the public must ensure they rely only on ethical means to raise funds. Anything else will contradict the very essence for these institutions’ exitence.

    • Bluntboy

      Nonsense at its worst, what is the right purpose? Is it printing of exam material, who supplies this and who awards these tenders to who and how? Is the right purpose about the undiscipled travelling associated with this activity on full knowledge that someone will in any event foot the bill? How come there are no entrance exams for A-levels and universities? I applause the Ministry for taking this bold and noble move which was long over due.

      • mubereki

        The parent will lose out at the end, rather than ban the entrance tests, the government should have mandated the schools to charge reasonable exam fees. Parents are going to be running around from one school to the other and the costs involved are going to be more. I experienced the agony looking for a lower six place for my child. The expenses we incurred moving from one school to the other only to be told that they were already full were unbelievable. Entrance exams helped in allocating of places more efficiently. If you were ever at Goromonzi for their form 1 intake and then imagine it on a national scale, you would shudder at what is in store for the parents.

    • Chaporonga

      nyarara mimi, what you are saying means if someone get money illegal and use it to feed the poor, there is nothing wrong.

  • boaz

    thank you matsotsi ekuzvikoro anga anyanya kubira vabereki iye zvino ngavatotsvage imwe plan once again thank you so much

  • Juliet Mabika

    This will make it easier for headmasters in good secondary schools to take bribes. Selection will be about money not fair screening.

  • Bluntboy

    Excellent move, only those who were benefitting from this corrupt system would be against this. Why add another huddle in already overburdened process. Strange enough such schools dont conduct exams for other tranfers, they rely on the donor school’s report on the student, so if they can work with local school reports why not respect the nationally accredited report? This country is awash with too many thieves and its time to stop the rot. Bravo minister!

  • taps

    more intense corruption is coming no doubt…