School defends record A’ Level exam pass rate

George Maponga in Masvingo

A record 103 students who sat the 2022 Zimsec Advanced Level examinations at Pamushana High School in Bikita scored 15 points and above, one of the most impressive performances by a single school in recent years.

The achievement has, however, been overshadowed by allegations of irregularities after the school was last year flagged for possible cheating when learners were found to have shared leaked examination papers.

However, the November exam results were considered to have come off a properly run examination at the school.

Only two students who sat last year’s Zimsec A-level could not make it after failing to pass a minimum two subjects resulting in the school recording a 98,7 percent pass rate.

While the total number of students who sat for Zimsec A’ Level at the school could not be established yesterday, although the pass rate suggests a number round about 154, the best performing candidate scored six to-grade passes to amass 30 points.

The latest results put Pamushana High under the spotlight after the school was previously fingered in the alleged leak of Zimsec examination papers when police traced some of the leaked O-level Zimsec final exam English and Mathematics papers to a pupil at the school.

However,  authorities at the school while confirming the record pass rate downplayed allegations of examinations paper leaks.

School deputy headmaster Mr Emmanuel Zingoni, who is in charge of examinations at Pamushana, dismissed allegations of leaks as “street” talk.

“We owe our good performance in final examinations to hard work and a unique way of making students prepare for their final examinations.

“Those sitting for their final examinations can, unlike other schools around Zimbabwe, go on extended study up to 10pm under close supervision of their teachers.

“This may not be happening at other schools in Zimbabwe,” said Mr Zingoni.

“Those who talk about leaking examinations at Pamushana may say that, but they are misinformed that is merely street talk. How can we leak exam papers when we collect the papers on exam day from Nyika Growth Point which is about 10km away and with the paper arriving at the school about 15 minutes before the start of the examination. We don’t keep examination papers at the school.”

Mr Zingoni queried why a professional teacher or school authorities would risk their employment and reputation by leaking exam papers “for someone else’s child”.

“We have a dedicated and committed team of teachers, real professionals who work hard and always aim to make their students pass. We are indeed lucky to have such a committed team of teachers who are good at their job. Just that nothing else.”

Masvingo provincial education director Mrs Shylatte Mhike refused to comment on the results insisting on first seeing them.

“I have only heard about those results, but I have not seen them. I am in Bulawayo at the moment and it is only appropriate for me to comment after seeing the results. At the moment I can not say anything,” said Mrs Mhike.

Pamushana High has over the last few years earned acclaim both as a sporting and educational powerhouse in Zimbabwe with the school shattering academic performance records after its students excel in final  examinations.

One factor not brought up by the school is that with its reputation it will get a lot more parents applying for places for their children than it has places available. This means that with a careful selection policy, looking at general primary school work as well as Grade 7 results, it can select pupils who are likely to do well.

At the same time it can maximise talented pupils into its sixth form, first by eliminating its own O-level pupils who did not pass well enough, and then by filling vacant places with pupils from other schools with excellent O levels. Add in good teaching, as Mr Zingono stressed, and it should get very good results.

Other schools with first class results use a similar system, of matching good teachers with good pupils, and the combination usually results in good parents wanting their children at that school, so there is a series of positive reinforcement.

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