ECZ won’t give 2016 grade 12 certificates before polls – Chilala

Voting in sparsely populated Zambezi-West parliamentary by-election started on schedule at 06:00 hours and at Mapashi polling station 45 people had cast their votes by 06:39 hours.

THE Examinations Council of Zambia says it is impossible for aspiring candidates without grade 12 certificates to write their GCE mid-year examinations and get their results in time to contest the August 11 general elections. In an interview, ECZ director Michael Chilala dismissed claims that the council had recently restructured the GCE examinations to allow politicians to meet the minimum qualifications in accordance with Clauses 70,100 and 153 of the amended Constitution of Zambia, which require candidates to possess grade 12 certificates as minimum qualifications. “The reform in the area of General Certificate of Education goes as far back as 2013 when we got permission to introduce the June General Certificate [of Education] examination. The examination first ran in 2014 and it ran in June and that time, we only had about 18,000 candidates. We were trying to see if we could actually run examinations specifically for repeaters who were out of school separate for the internal regular school going candidates. What prompted us to do so was the increasing number of GCE candidates who were eventually causing overcrowding in classrooms during examinations, causing confusion and affecting the controls and eventually leading to malpractice and irregularities during the exam,” Dr Chilala said. “We are not necessarily running the GCE examination for politicians. But as long as they want to write the GCE examination, they will be accommodated. So for those who need to write now, for sure it will be for their future planning, not necessarily targeted at this election only. And what I wanted to emphasise is we are not running it for elections, no.” He said there was a possibility that most politicians had already upgraded their qualifications ahead of the elections. “What you need to know is that a lot of politicians took proactive steps towards [elections]. As you know, it took a lot of time for government to agree on the Constitution and eventually His Excellency [President Edgar Lungu] finally came to sign it into law, so in the process of developing the Constitution, a good number of them may have taken steps to actually improve themselves. So the situation may not be as bad as we may be assuming it is,” Dr Chilala said. “So I don’t want to comment on whether they will contest or not because the exam is something that we have been providing even without this law.” He explained that even the decision to allow candidates to write an unlimited number of subjects was also made in 2014. Dr Chilala also said the mid-year GCE examination results would not be ready in time for filing of election nomination papers.

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