When the O’ Level results for November 2015 were announce recently, there was an outcry over Zimsec changing goal posts and rating Grades D and E as a pass, a different system to what was employed yesteryear.
Granted the Ministry of Education as well as the Examining Board used to refer to A through C as a ‘pass with credit’ and never factored in the D’s and E’s.
Some have argued that the education system is now gone to the dogs as the rating of what is a pass is now as bad as someone getting 30% in an exam. Ridiculous we know, but strangely, this has always been the case.
A quick glance at the back of my Zimsec O’ Level certificate from 2000 (we were the first sitting to write a solely Zimsec administered set of exams, as they pulled the plug on their relationship with Cambridge) one will clearly see that Grades D and E are classified as being ‘S. C. Subject Passes’ (S. C. here standing for School Certificate).
Ultimately, Zimsec have fallen back on this grading as opposed to going by the ‘former G. C. E. Ordinary level pass standard’ which I’m sure referred to Cambridge exams.
I think the outcry is overrated as people will still gauge one’s ability on having a certain mark, as opposed to whether it was a blanket pass or not. I do not foresee universities rushing to accept students who have 5 E’s, when there are still those who have 14 A’s who will have first preference.
Zimsec may however be shooting itself in the foot by assuming that we have a higher pass rate then we should (there will be more people who have ‘passed’ with Grade E or better) and thus will not put in any measures to improve the education system to better the quality of students who sit for Ordinary level exams.
We, however, have reached out to Zimsec and seek an official response in regards to the above.
UPDATE: Zmsec have advised that they always have been reporting O’ Level results as ‘C or better’ and ‘E or better’, it is only in this instance that certain media publications have chosen to run with the E or better angle. No change they say.