Just when one is about to get a break from 2020’s hysteria, here comes the Malawi National Examinations Board (MANEB) saga. Was the postponement of examinations a fair deal for students after a long break from COVID-19? The negative impact it has had on our children will take a lifetime to deal with especially for our young girls who got pregnant. This year has been tattooed in their hearts and will never be forgotten.

The President directed that MANEB Board should deal with management of the Board and we saw the suspending the Executive Director. But does this get us to root of this problem? Are we not window dressing the issue that possibly is entrenched in the examination culture that we have as a country? When one looks back at the history of examinations in Malawi, it has been over a good 30 years we are experiencing the leaked of the exams. Executive Directors have been suspended, dismissed and replaced and yet the leakage of the exams continue.

What is more interesting is that at one point, we saw the University of Malawi introducing the entrance exams to the university which saw students with very good grades at Malawi Schools Certificate of Education miserably failing during the entrance
exams. Did we ask ourselves why? What did Malawi do: Scrap off the entrance exams and this as a major outcry. Did this solve a problem? Obviously not. Are we not surprised that the system seems to be awash with diplomas, degrees and possibly postgraduate degrees that may not be reflecting the quality of education we have? In our view, we seem to be window dressing the problem that is deep rooted.

Let us give this a fair trial. How do parents arrive at selecting schools that will contribute to shaping their children’s future? It is evident that many parents prefer schools that generate the highest number of students passing with flying colours after sitting for Malawi School Certificate of Examinations (MSCE). But have we interrogated the quality of the students that pass these exams with flying colours. Can somebody do an analysis and explain the high numbers of students who get chopped off after attending the first year of college? One is inclined to believe that there is a problem with our education system. In our education system over the years, we have heard a lot of theories and stories. We have cheating at MSCE level and we have also heard of so many scandalous issues in the university education. A very objective research should be conducted in the education sector for us to understand the challenges and how we should move forward.

We cannot have quality education if we focus on examination results which should be seen to be good as determined by the certificate. We need education quality that is skills competence based. It is high time we need an overhaul of the education system and focus on what are real issues. Our current education system and approach focuses on memorization and has content that is not useful at all. The advisory committee on education to the President should look into this issue critically and ably suggest ways in which leaking examinations should be history in our country. A special plea to the Ministry of Education which is to keep track of progress that students are making and ably assist accordingly from all levels of education, primary to tertiary.

Now, let us refocus on 16 Days of Activism of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV) which ends on the commemoration of Human Rights Day on the 10th of December. Rights of women and children need to be protected at all times. Towards the end of the year, cases of rape have been on the higher side and this is unacceptable. Please report such cases directly through our toll-free helplines, 116 and 5600.

2020 has been very challenging, being alive and staying sane alone can be added to your accomplishment list. As we are fast approaching the festive season, celebrate responsibly, take care of yourselves and your families by ensuring tight securities wherever you go.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2021.

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