ZAMBIA: MPs slam exam leakages and interference

Leakages of examination papers are threatening to have a negative impact on educational standards at Zambia's institutions of higher learning, a parliamentary committee has claimed.
The committee also decried political interference in the running of institutions of higher learning in the African country.

The parliamentary Committee on Education, Science and Technology, chaired by Zambian legislator Dr Saviour Chishimba, said leakage of examination papers had reached unprecedented levels in a country where citizens have decided to form an anti-examination leakage organisation.

The committee said financial irregularities at some universities were undermining their progress, and urged the government to look into the matter. Chishimba also expressed reservations about government's private-public partnerships in the sector.

In responding to a parliamentary report on higher education that was tabled on 13 November and debated on 20 November, Zambia's Education Minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa acknowledged the problem of examination leakages.

"I would like to assure the committee that, as a Ministry, we are addressing a number of the issues that were raised in the report and I will just highlight a few."

Lungwangwa said the government was fully aware of examination difficulties, and especially the problem of leakages. "As a ministry, we are very concerned about the integrity of our examination process and measures are going to be taken to address this issue."

He took note of the committee's observation "that there has been political interference in the operations of our universities". Interference, Lungwangwa said, came from people who thought that "because the university is located in their constituency, it should become a battlefield for political contest".

The Minister defended the government's decision to make Mulungushi University a public-private partnership institution, saying that Konkola Mines Plc - which is sinking US$17.5 million into the new institution - had lifted some of the burden of funding and running the university off government.

The government, said Lungwangwa, would continue supporting private universities in public-private partnerships aimed at developing higher education and creating opportunities for people to acquire the various types of skills that would enable them to participate effectively in Zambia's development.