THE Zimbabwe School Examinations Council’s November Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations face a fresh hurdle after rural teachers this week wrote to the institution demanding contracts before they invigilate.
In a letter dated 2 October 2023 signed by Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union secretary-general Robson Chere, addressed to Zimsec director Lazarus Nembawire, the educators said the smooth running of examinations can only take place if separate contracts are provided on top of the ones they have with the Public Service Commission.
Part of the letter reads: “It is crucial that Zimsec considers signing contracts with teachers for invigilation, along with clear payment terms, in order to ensure the efficient and effective administration of exams,” Nembawire wrote.
“As you are aware, teachers are employed by the public service primarily to fulfill their teaching duties within schools. These duties include lesson planning, curriculum delivery, student assessment, and other related responsibilities. However, it is important to recognize that invigilating examinations is a separate task that requires additional time and effort from teachers.”
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Association of Zimbabwe secretary-general emphasised that by signing contracts with teachers specifically for invigilation, Zimsec will establish a clear understanding of the expectations and responsibilities involved in their role of invigilation.
“This will help ensure that teachers are adequately compensated for their extra efforts and time dedicated to invigilating exams. Moreover, having a formal agreement in place will provide a legal framework that protects both parties’ rights and obligations,” reads part of the letter.
“In addition to the practical benefits mentioned above, signing contracts with teachers for invigilation will also have positive implications for teacher motivation and morale. Recognizing and compensating teachers for their additional responsibilities will serve as a form of acknowledgment and appreciation for their dedication to the education system. This, in turn, will contribute to increased job satisfaction and overall teacher well-being.
“I kindly request that you consider this proposal seriously and take the necessary steps to initiate discussions and negotiations regarding the signing of contracts with teachers for invigilation.
“Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to a positive response and fruitful collaboration in improving the administration of Zimsec examinations.”
In an interview with The NewsHawks on Thursday, Chere explained why the rural teachers had taken that route.
“We have had a tradition where schools through the ministry manipulates teachers to carry out extra Zimsec work through handling and conducting exams which is not part of teachers contracts. Zimsec had over the years failed to pay for these extra services. Teachers raised this issue with us as a union and we resolved to engage Zimsec,” he said.
In November last year there was confusion over the payment of allowances for teachers invigilating final year examinations after the Zimsec denied responsibility.
Zimsec said the obligation to pay invigilators fell under the Public Service Commission (PSC), but the then Public Service minister Paul Mavima said his ministry had no control over invigilation contracts.
The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) wrote to Zimsec threatening to boycott supervising the examinations if there was no commitment to pay for the services.
Responding to PTUZ, Zimsec boss Nembaware said the responsibility to pay invigilators fell under the PSC.
Nembaware said his position followed a resolution made at a 2019 meeting “where the matter of the invigilation of examinations was addressed by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE)”.
“The forum which was attended by representatives of all teacher unions, MoPSE and Zimsec, comprehensively discussed this and other issues to do with teachers who are involved in invigilating examinations, the MoPSE, then represented by chief director J Dewah and Mr P Muzawazi (retired), adjourned the meeting with an undertaking to engage the employer of teachers which is the PSC,” Nembaware wrote to PTUZ.
“The responsibility that your letter puts on Zimsec belongs to another entity and we cordially advise you to seek engagement with the relevant authority.”
But Mavima then insisted that Zimsec is administered by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry and the Public Service ministry has no control over the contract between Zimsec and its invigilators.
This confusion has since motivated the latest move by Artuz to pin down Zimsec before the examinations are rolled out next month.