By JOHN SAKALA
Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ) Chief Executive Officer Michael Chilala says progress has been made towards addressing the challenge of mismatched qualifications between Zambia and the United Kingdom.
And Dr Chilala said that ECZ is reviewing the ECZ Act Cap 137 of the Laws of Zambia, to make the penalties stiffer as a deterrent from involvement in examination malpractices.
Following continued debate on the comparisons between qualifications issued by Universities in Zambia against those issued in the United Kingdom, Dr Chilala and The National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (NARIC) Head of Quality Benchmark Services Dr Fabrizio Trifiro held a meeting in London to discuss the issue.
In an interview before departing for Zambia, Dr Chilala said he met with the representative from NARIC to discuss the issue of unfavorable comparison of qualifications issued in Zambia against those issued in the UK.
“During the meeting, it was observed that there were gaps in the evaluation of the ‘O’ Level qualifications, which have a lot of ‘A’ Level content. Additionally, we observed that while the first degree in UK takes an average of 3 years of study, the degree in Zambia takes an average of 4 years.
“In our discussion, we indicated to NARIC that although there are no ‘A’ Levels issued by the Examinations Council of Zambia, the first year of university education plus the ‘A’ Level content in our ‘O’ Level qualification can account adequately for the missing ‘A’ Level qualification”.
He said based on the interaction, it was agreed that NARIC will visit Zambia to evaluate the first year content for the University of Zambia, the Copperbelt University, Mulungushi University and University of Lusaka.
“It was further observed that the current performance descriptors under the Zambian Qualifications Framework was similar to the higher diploma in UK and those for the Masters were similar to the Bachelor’s degree with Honors in the UK,” he said.
“The Zambia Qualifications Authority (ZAQA) was in the process of reviewing the Zambia Qualification Framework (ZQF) and its performance descriptors and agreed to request ZAQA to include NARIC among the stakeholders to be consulted during the review process. Based on the agreements in the meeting, there is progress made towards addressing the challenge of mismatched qualifications between the UK and Zambia,” he said.
And Dr Chilala said Zambia experienced a terrible leakage of six (6) papers in 2018, leading to a temporal suspension of the examination until the papers were replaced.
He said arising from the 2018 experience, a number of reforms were implemented in 2019, which resulted in leakage free examinations.
He attested that after the reforms, there were no examination malpractices in 2019.
He said ECZ leveraged on ICTs through the introduction of online marks transfer, candidate registration and e-Statements of Results to enhance efficiency.
Dr Chilala said ECZ is also working on sensitising the masses against examination malpractices as it is largely a moral issue.
Dr Chilala was in London to attend the Education World Forum 2020 Global Summit for Education Ministers that took place in London last week under the theme: One Generation: “What does it take to transform education”.
This is according to a media statement made available to The Independent Observer by First Secretary for Press and Public Relations at the Zambian Embassy the United Kingdom Abigail Chaponda.