The postponement of the Grade 7, 9 and 12 examinations by the ECZ is not shocking. The question is why does it not happen more often? Or better still, why does this country still hold on to this ritual rendered obsolete and meaningless by the greed and corruption of the capitalist system?
Each year, our learners, students, guardians and Zambian masses are literally held captive and angered by one of the highest forms of injustice in the education sector, i.e. an examination system and process long divorced from ability and hard work. The rich ruling elite has completely destroyed any little fairness that characterised the examination system from 1964 to 1991. This has in turn undermined the people’s trust in the entire education system.
Our petty bourgeois elite, accustomed to stealing and looting, is bent on decorating itself with school certificates and academic titles to meet both the electoral qualification requirements and fake social prestige that the paper qualifications brings along. This elite also wants its children to take this corrupt and easy path.
Examination papers become a commodity that the rich can bid for and acquire long before the children of the poor masses get to see it in an invigilation class.
As far as I can remember, there has not been a single year that can be described as smooth and fair for over 20 years now.
The problem goes beyond leakage. Technically speaking, leakage is where the content of the examination is disclosed – usually involving, teachers, examiners, printers, proofreaders or school administrators.
There is today more cheating through unauthorised assistance to candidates during examinations. This involves invigilators plus fake candidates hired to write for those able to pay. In addition, the rampant smuggling of notes, answers, charts and other materials by the candidates makes a mockery of the entire excise.
Zambia is not alone in this aspect. All poor countries intending to develop an education system on the basis of neo-liberal capitalism suffer a similar fate. The studies and analyses from our entire continent are depressing. The economic and social cost is immense.
A political system that encourages and fosters greed and corruption is to blame.
Such a system is unable to manage the public pressure for good school results. It does not have the inbuilt incentive for adequate investments in the education for all its citizens. Poorly paid teachers, lousy logistical arrangements, improper ICT security features for the electronic data bases and a school ranking and results based rewards all add up to create this huge mess we find ourselves in.
What Zambia needs is a well-funded public education system based on equity and fairness.
Such a system has to be interfaced with job creation and the development of a citizen with a disdain for the capitalist values of individualism, greed, unbridled competition and consumerism. A citizen that will despise and be infuriated with any examination leakage. Technical and administrative solutions to leakages are necessary but not sufficient under the prevailing periphery capitalist system.
There is no alternative to socialism for the Zambian educational system.