The Ministry of Education has launched a full-scale investigation into gross irregularities after felonious actions from teachers tasked with setting and compiling the final examination papers for 12th graders surfaced, The Villager, reveals.
At least three top performing schools in the capital, Gymnasium, St Georges and DHPS, whose teachers have been involved with the setting and compiling of the final examinations in key subjects, mainly mathematics, physics and biology, are under investigations.
The probe follows after it emerged that teachers who are responsible for the production of the final examination papers might have literally leaked the papers to their learners during mid-term examinations, while doing revisions in preparation for the final exam as well as during the annual summer tutorial classes.
A total number of 41 700 learners who sat for the Namibia Secondary Senior Certificate (NSSC) ordinary level examinations and another batch of 10 500 who wrote the NSSC higher level examinations might be affected if the ongoing investigations find evidence of these serious irregularities.
The Rector of the Gymnasium Private School Fanie van Zyl confirmed to The Villager that his school received a letter from the Permanent Secretary Vitalis Ankama requesting that all documents, including mid-year examination papers, revision work, class preparations and study lessons, be submitted for some of the subjects.
He could not confirm further and referred all further enquiries to the Directorate of National Examinations (DNE) as per ministerial directives, "to keep the matter as low as possible."
One of the teachers under investigation, Bianca Rehder from Gymnasium Private School, confirmed that she was requested to hand in a copy of the mid-year physics examination paper written by her learners.
“It is much more than an investigation,” said Rehder who was responsible for the compilation of the second paper for the physics exams, before she chickened out of the interview after realising that she was speaking to a reporter despite the initial introduction that stated the profession of her interviewer.
“I am being investigated and I cannot talk to you,” she finally quipped before politely hanging up the phone.
Eurina Hobble from St. Georges High School would only confirm that she was part of the team that set and compiled the mathematics question papers but refused point blank to divulge any other information.
“If there are any allegations, you must contact me through the Directorate of National Examinations (DNE),” she defiantly said after being informed about the purpose of the interview.
Meanwhile, the Director of National Examinations and Assessment in the Ministry of Education, Cavin Nyambe also refused to shed any light on the ongoing investigations when contacted, referring this newspaper to speak to the learners who spilled the beans on the alleged leaking of examination papers or the principals of the concerned schools.
The unwarranted practice from the teachers came to light after a learner alerted the Education Minister Dr. Abraham Iyambo directly, when it became obvious that learners from some prominent schools in the capital had definite insights into various contents of some of the final examination papers after their predictions of what would be in the papers were always spot on.
Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Education, Toivo Mvula confirmed the investigations to The Villager but tried to downplay them.
“Yes, we have launched an investigation after the Minister (Abraham Iyambo) received a text message from a learner regarding the issue but it has since remained a mere allegation,” he said citing frustrations over the efforts made by his ministry to investigate the matter.
The learners said to have had leakages on the side by ‘private tutors’ were charged as much as N$450 for two daily sessions, which went up to four days a week at one summer school.
The summer tutorial classes are being offered during the second school holidays just before the examinations commence and children from as far as the northern regions are said to be attending the classes, thus incurring great expenses.
However, their efforts seems to be worth the price as the final examination papers they sat for contained almost everything taught exhaustively at the summer schools where there were allegedly more than just leads found in their final examination papers.
Learners who were either taught by these teachers or attended summer school classes offered by them were all very confident and precise of what would be in the final examinations before they even entered the examination halls.
The Villager has a copy of a letter from one dissatisfied learner from St. Paul’s, Lya Mthoko, who could not stand the bragging of colleagues who attended summer schools with one of the teachers.
Mthoko, confiding with the Ministry said, “One of the learners from my school who went to the summer school at Gymnasium High for biology was very sure when they came back that the practical examination questions would involve gelatin and diffusion and she was right.”
She said that another learner (Chris Barnard) who also attended the summer school at Gymnasium High turned up with a mock practical examination paper presented at the summer school and almost everything that was in that paper was in the final examination paper.
“Almost 90% of it (mock paper) was in the final examination paper with only the measurements differing,’’ she said.
The Villager was also informed that some learners from DHPS have been boasting that they are very sure that motion and traction would be part of the practicals for the physics final examination, some learners were even willing to bet as much as N$100 on that. And they too were right.
The head of the physical science department at DHPS, Carsten Antoni denied that any teacher from his school was part of the team that set or compiled the final examination papers.
However, Antoni said that his school registered a complaint with the Ministry regarding the practical examinations as they were not satisfied with it but did not elaborate.
St. Pauls College has confirmed that it is mulling reverting to the international examination board, because of the irregularities in local exams.
According to an eyewitness, Rachel Machiya, a 12th grader was allegedly inconsolable as she cried bitterly after realising that she had had a mock examination in her possession that she shared with a friend but was not keen on its contents only to realise that there the mock paper was the same as the final examination paper she wrote.
Learners at other schools have lost faith in the teaching abilities of their teachers and only regard the teachers from schools that are entrusted with the setting and compiling of the final examination papers as the best.
The selection of people who compile the final examination papers for grade 12 students became a headache for the Ministry of Education immediately after the NSSC curriculum and qualifications were introduced in the country between 2005 and 2007 as there were no set criteria for who qualifies for the job at the time.
The new “improved’’ system is also not ‘waterproof’, thus ‘leaking’ as the same teachers are almost always selected and as a result, giving students lectured by them an advantage over other learners.