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Government has expressed confidence in the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council and said it will introduce a raft of measures to strengthen the examinations body in the wake of leakages of examination materials.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora said they will reduce the period in which question papers would be taken to examination centres with central smart remote controlled keys that monitor tampering of examination materials being installed.

Minister Dokora said this in Senate on Thursday while responding to a question from Senator representing people with disabilities Nyamayabo Mashavakure on what Government was doing to curb exam leakages.

Exam leakages, said Minister Dokora, were not taking place at Zimsec but at schools or through employees of an organisation it contracted.

“For this reason we still believe in the credibility of the organisation in handling the examinations. We are putting in place mechanisms to ensure that Zimsec takes ownership of the printing process itself. Significantly, Zimsec has not had any leaks in the June examinations and that is an area of reflection which Zimsec prints in-house,” said Minister Dokora.

As part of measures to plug leakages, said Minister Dokora, regional managers had been directed to ensure that headmasters did not travel long distances like more than 40 kilometres with examination materials.

“The ministry has with effect from this year strengthened the cluster system to reduce time that a centre has access to its papers. In rural areas, schools will have access to the question papers for a maximum of five days before the examinations are written. In urban areas, centres will collect examination question papers a day before the paper is written,” he said.

He said Zimsec was exploring the possibility of technology, the grid lock system to detect the slightest tampering of examination material.

“The gadget uses the electronic locks, Bluetooth, global system for mobile communication (GSM) and geographic positioning system (GPS). The technology enables smart interaction with the secured examination question paper boxes such that at any given time, the examination administration staff is aware of even the slightest attempt on the parcels,” he said.

Responding to another question on how the Government had handled an Ebola suspected dead body, Health and Child Care Minister David Parirenyatwa said Government took over the burial process. He said it was a precautionary measure since the person had shown symptoms of the disease while she was in Guinea Conakry where she had gone for employment as a domestic worker. Minister Parirenyatwa said they directed that the body be buried at Granville Cemetery and not in Manicaland as preferred by the family.

He said in terms of reports they got, the patient, Tarisai Gombakomba had been treated of malaria but was said to have reacted resulting in her death in Conakry on December 18 2014.

The body was flown to Harare and her remains were packaged in three body bags, covered in zinc metal sheet and then placed in a sealed metal coffin.

“We eventually tested the husband and daughter who had gone there and they tested negative to Ebola. We monitored them for 21 days and that has since lapsed without incident. We are happy to say we buried her in terms of World Health Organisation standards and as a precautionary measure,” he said.

Minister Parirenyatwa said members of the security forces who were on peacekeeping mission in Equatorial Guinea were tested of Ebola and all tested negative.

Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi repeated what he told Senate a fortnight ago that the soldiers were not deployed to a war situation that would warrant consultation with Parliament when they went to Malabo during the just ended African Cup of Nations soccer tournament. He said the deployment followed the request by African Union, adding that Malabo would not have hosted the football tournament if the security situation resembled that of war.

Source : The Herald