A HIGH number of Grade Seven pupils throughout the country failed to write their final examinations in 2020 due to various challenges as a result of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Grade Seven examination markers who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com this week confirmed the number of pupils who failed to write their examinations last year was unprecedented as compared to the previous years.
In Bulawayo province, a total of 560 students failed to turn up for the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) examinations for unspecified reasons.
Bulawayo province has a total of 123 primary schools.
"In total Bulawayo province had 14 852 registered pupils but a total of 560 pupils failed to turn up for the examinations. This number is very high considering that in the past we have recorded a zero percentage of absentees during Grade Seven examinations," one of the markers said.
"We strongly suspect Covid-19 could be the reason why some pupils failed to come to schools to write their examinations."
He added that as a result of the high number of absent pupils, ZIMSEC instructed all the markers to compile all the names of pupils who failed to write their examinations.
"At my centre, ZIMSEC assistant regional manager (Alphane) Sabatha instructed us to write all names of absent candidates. This is the first time in the history of the examinations that markers have been instructed to compile such information. We do not know what the examination body intends to do with the information," another marker said.
Other sources also told NewZimbabwe.com a high number of pupils also failed to write their examinations in other provinces.
"There was also a high figure of students who failed to sit for their Grade Seven examinations in other provinces especially in Matabeleland North and Mashonaland provinces. It is actually a crisis and we do not know how these students are going to be catered for," one of the sources said.
When reached for comment Sabatha referred all questions to ZIMSEC's public relations manager, Nicolette Dhlamini.
"I not qualified to speak about this issue. Please talk to our PR manager," said Sabatha. However, Dhlamini's mobile phone went unanswered.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou, however, confirmed some children failed to write their Grade Seven examinations especially those based in the rural areas.
"We certainly heard the reports. Many in rural areas couldn't access schools because rivers were flooded. Others were forbidden by their parents for fear on being infected by Covid-19. Others were not ready to write examinations as they had not covered the syllabus due to closure of schools as a response to Covid-19," he said.