THE Zimbabwe Examinations Council (Zimsec) is printing part of the November public examination papers in the United Kingdom to avoid leakages, it has been revealed.
Zimsec has its own printing facility in Norton and also contracts Fidelity printers to print O’ and A’ Level exam papers.
Eddie Mwenje, the examination body’s board chairperson, although not confirming that some of this year’s examination papers were being printed in the UK, said it was not the first time that Zimsec was outsourcing.
“We are outsourcing and we have always been outsourcing and this is not the first time,” he said.
“Zimsec examines quite a number of students and there is Grade 7, Form 4 and A’ Level and that is quite a lot.
“The printing facility that we are setting up in Norton is near completion and, therefore, this is the reason why we could not print all stuff here.
‘We are printing some of the stuff with our other machines, but we couldn’t print everything and that is why we have to do outsourcing externally as well.”
Mwenje said they were taking a comprehensive approach to stop leakages of examination papers.
Last year’s O’Level English Paper 2 was leaked and the 260 000 candidates were saved from rewriting the exam after the High Court ruled against the Primary and Secondary Education ministry.
Zimsec stopped printing exam papers outside the country in 2005 after a truck carrying its consignment was hijacked in South Africa, it has been established.
According to a letter by former Zimsec director Happy Ndanga to the then State Procurement Board, the vehicle carrying question papers was hijacked in South Africa in 2005 after the papers were printed by Kadimah Trading Company.
This delayed the examinations and the government ordered Zimsec to use Fidelity Printers.
In 2010 Zimsec tried to outsource the service, but was turned down by the government, which recommended Fidelity and Printflow.
Zimsec spokesperson Nicky Dhlamini justified the exam body’s decision to outsource again after years of printing locally.
“The printing of question papers for a national examination in any country must be done in a secure place using efficient machinery,” she said.
“The printing of question papers outside the country is meant to fulfil that while we complete the installation of our own secure printing press.”
Dhlamini said Zimsec had put in place measures to stop the perennial leakage of exam papers.
“In any country where examinations determine careers of its nationals, there are potential examination leakages,” she added.
“You only need to go to the internet to see the number of countries in Europe, Asia etc that have had examination leakages.
“The measures have been put in place on how to avoid leakages and also on how to manage them.
“These are: we have printed our high stakes question papers off-shore; we will deliver question papers to examination centres on the day of the examination.
“We also plan to have super invigilators at centres who will be employed by Zimsec.
“Heads of centres will collect examination question papers from cluster centres, which hold question papers for a number of centres.
“The issuing authorities of question papers will be a team that will be led by a Zimsec official whenever they will be question papers.
“Head of centres will only have access to question papers in the morning of each examination and that scripts will be collected soon after an examination has been written.”
Dhlamini said centres that were too far away from others would be accorded single centre storage status and would be manned by Zimsec, police or local staff.