Results of the retaken 2020 Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) examination show that 81 017 candidates out of 138 310 have failed, representing a paltry 41.42 percent pass rate.
The results, announced by Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje in Lilongwe yesterday, are worse than the 50.42 percent pass rate recorded in the 2019 MSCE examination.
In 2016, 58.32 percent of the candidates passed while in 2017 the pass rate stood at 61 percent and thepass rate of 63.23 percent in 2018 was the highest in the past five years.
Describing the results as “the worst in the past decade”, the minister attributed the candidates’ poor performance to circumstances that surrounded the administration of the 2020 MSCE which she said were beyond the ministry’s control.
Candidates took a fresh examination in January this year following cancellation of the initial one last October due to massive leakage of some examination papers.
Initially, the candidates were expected to write the examination in July, but they did not since schools were closed as a precautionary measure against Covid-19.
NyaLonje said: “We saw how Covid-19 induced a long holiday and necessitated shifting of MSCE from July to October 2020.
“The second factor is the cancellation of the exams due to massive leakage and last the strict controls and security used in the final examinations.”
She also blamed poor management of teachers whom she said play a major role in the education sector. She pledged to ensure that the plight of teachers is improved.
Breaking down the statistics by gender, the minister said 64 297 of the candidates were females and 22 270 representing 34.64 percent have passed.
On the other hand, out of 74 013 male candidates, 35 023 representing 47.32 percent have passed.
NyaLonje also said out of 687 special needs candidates who sat the examination, 277 have passed representing 40.32 percent.
Reacting to the results in an interview yesterday, quality education activist Benedicto Kondowe said the results are a correct reflection of poor planning.
He was apparently referring to the response during the five months of Covid-19 induced school closure during the first wave of the pandemic and leakage of some MSCE examination sheets.
Kondowe said: “We saw how schools were forced into a long closure and there was little done to close the gap created. It is obvious that candidates had little time to cover the lost work.
“Apart from that, the exams seriously leaked due to negligence and that forced authorities to cancel the exams. All these factors subjected the candidates to anxiety.”
In her remarks during the announcement of the results, Malawi National Examinations Board acting executive director Dr Dorothy Nampota said the re-administered 2020 examination were free from leakage and were conducted under strict adherence to Covid-19 preventive measures.
The 2020 MSCE was scheduled for July 2020 but due to the Covid-19 situation, they were shifted to October 2020 but soon after the first papers, there was massive leakage of the exam papers s such the exam was cancelled.
By press time, we were yet to establish performance of high performing schools. During the 2019 examination, Loyola Jesuit Secondary School of Kasungu was named the most outstanding performer followed by Marist Secondary School of Dedza.