National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) says it is concerned with the manner in which the Ministry of General Education is currently making policies, most of which are not consultative and not well informed.

General Education Minister David Mabumba recently announced that all grade 9 candidates who fail exams will now have to repeat and sit examinations as internal candidates.

Mabumba explained that the external grade 9 examinations, which have in recent years been held every August, will no longer be there, noting that most pupils who fail their exams and sent back home are demoralized, hence dropping out of school.

But in a statement, Thursday, NAQEZ executive director Aaron Chansa stated that the move was a sign that the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) and the Ministry initially failed to make a good decision on examinations.

“NAQEZ is not happy with the manner the MoGE is currently making policies. Most of them are not consultative and not well informed. The G9 external policy is just one example; it is still in its infancy but has abruptly been tempered with. This clearly shows that the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) and the Ministry failed to make a good decision, initially. We appeal for more inclusiveness and comprehensiveness in public policy formulation in the Ministry of General Education,” Chansa stated.

He, however, noted that he believes the grade 9 external concept has not been abolished but shifted from writing in July to November.

“National Action for Quality Education in Zambia (NAQEZ) is not convinced that the concept of Grade 9 external has been abolished. As things firmly stand, we still have grade 9 external candidates who are paying external examination fees and are being given grade 9 external examination numbers. NAQEZ therefore doubts the announcement by Minister of General Education, Hon David Mabumba, that grade 9 externals have been abolished. From where we stand, what has just been done away with is the writing of external grade 9 examinations in July; otherwise the entire grade 9 external concept remains intact,” Chansa stated.

Meanwhile, Chansa expressed worry over the shortage of classroom space and desks in most schools following government’s plan to send those who failed grade nine examinations back to class.

“However, NAQEZ commends the Ministry for allowing [those who failed] grade 9 [examinations] to repeat and attend classes. The previous system of sending [them] away from class was academically suicidal and was negating every effort for quality education in Zambia. Our greatest worry, for now, is the acute shortages of classroom spaces and desks in most schools across the country. While we want them to repeat the grade, we are afraid many schools in Zambia have no capacity to accommodate them,” stated Chansa. “This fact is ugly and the Ministry of General Education must face it with the urgency it deserves. Even during this proposed November combined exam (Internal and external candidates), many schools have no desks and classroom spaces to sit all the candidates. We therefore advise the Ministry to attend to this concern sooner rather than later. This matter has the potential to seriously undermine proper management of G9 examinations this year.”