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2002 Examinations, Uniforms & Security

The second term was dominated by the decision by the Education, Sports and Culture Minister Aeneas Chigwedere to ban with immediate effect the taking of "foreign" examinations and require all students to sit for ZIMSEC exams. All this without any transitional arrangements for those part way through preparation for Cambridge Board exams. This was followed immediately by the Minister's proposal that all students should wear identically the same uniforms.

Both proposals were eventually dropped in the face of parental opposition, but not before considerable disruption had been caused.
This was followed by the Security Gate saga, where Colin MacMillan who had the contract man the school's security gate was "held hostage" by his workforce demanding redundancy pay.

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Many of you, I know, are struggling to cope with the present economic and political situation in the country. The latest circular on International Examinations, issued recently, has led to much anxiety and speculation and has become for some 'the last nail' Don't let it! We can cope with the situation so that it does not disadvantage your son or daughter this year.

Let me assure you that ZIMSEC is internationally recognised. CHISZ has sought, and has gained assurances from Universities and Colleges that we feed, that this is so. We have not encountered a single university or tertiary institution that will not accept these qualifications. The policy of all universities is to accept certification by an examination board until such time that they find the pupils coming through that board are not up to standard. Furthermore, universities take into account the educational system and the school at which tuition has taken place. Zimbabwe and Peterhouse enjoy a high rating with all the universities their past pupils attend.

As recently as Tuesday when we were visited by representatives of Australian Universities, we were assured that it is not the body who certify the examination but rather the educational system of the school from where the pupils come that determines entry. Each reassured me that Peterhouse has a very high standing in this respect - Dr. John Duncan assured me that entry could be obtained on the predictions made after the mock examinations in June!

One of the main reasons of change to Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) was the announcement last year that ZIMSEC were required, by the Ministry of Education, to localise 'A' level by June 2002 - the completion of the process had originally been set for 2005. To complete this localisation in the short time, Cambridge has worked closely with ZIMSEC and the end product is very similar if not identical to Cambridge examinations. For the foreseeable future I am confident that the examinations will be of the highest standard.

At present there are three levels of examinations - IGCSE/O Level; AS first year or first half of A level; and A2 the completion of A level. AS and A2 may be written separately or in a single session. The equivalent ZIMSEC exam is A level written after two years.

Instead of IGCSE we will revert to ZIMSEC '0' level. I must point out, that with a few exceptions, the work studied for IGCSE and 'O' level is the same. Anticipating as we did this possible problem, we have taught the common areas to this point in time - specialising in one or the other is now the natural progression. (For your information, last years candidates wrote both examinations, for several subjects, and the correlation of results was very high!)

The Boys School has its own English Literature paper - Peterhouse Girls will not be able to write '0' level but will write an internal English literature paper and so continue to 'A' level (as the boys have done), as a result of their performance in the paper. ZIMSEC offer a History paper on 'World Affairs since 1918' which is based on the same syllabus as the CIE exam. There is a problem with Design Technology as ZIMSEC offer no equivalent. We have previously negotiated with ZIMSEC to borrow the CIE exam and will follow this up. If this fails we will set, and certify, an internal exam, in the same way as we have done for Literature in the past.

A major concern at this level is that ZIMSEC does not offer a Core alternative (easier questions on only part of each syllabus - the maximum grade possible being a C). It would be advisable for our weaker candidates to drop a subject, probably one of the three sciences.

Instead of AS level we will write mid-year examinations this term and narrow the number of subjects down to three from next term. It has been common practice to write three 'A' levels in the past. Vth Form pupils will not write a public examination at the end of this year but carry on to complete 3 'A' Levels next year. Pupils doing Thinking Skills will have to drop this subject.

At 'A' level, French and English Literature will have to include a few different set books. (The books studied to date have been common to both syllabuses) A change in emphasis in revision and in answering questions would be required in most subjects.
Those who passed AS level at the end of 2001 would not be able to carry their marks forward, they would need to revise the sections completed and add that work to this year’s sections - common practice in the past. They will, however, be able to use their AS certificates to qualify for University entrance if required.
It is my sincere belief that we seek legal opinion and enter into dialogue with the Ministry over this issue for the future. Sadly this will take time - time is something we do not have for those writing this year. Staff are geared up and ready and I will be speaking to your son or daughter about this change and feel confident that they will accept the change in a determined and confident way.

I must point out that there are relatively few South African schools offering CIE examinations, and that schools in the United Kingdom offer GCSE examinations, which include a lot of course work that cannot be picked up.
We will, in the weeks to come, be reviewing each individual's case, and will plan in his or her best interests.

Yours sincerely
J B Calderwood
10th May 2002

Zimbabwe Independent 10 May 2002
No more Cambridge exams
Blessing Zulu

CAMBRIDGE International Examinations Board has cut its ties with Zimbabwe in a move that is likely to hit hard children of ministers, indigenisation advocates and the affluent who have their children at private schools, the Zimbabwe Independent has established. This follows moves by the Ministry of Education to localise exams. In a letter to all private schools, Cambridge said it was no longer going to offer its examinations in the country.
"It is with much regret that as things stand in Zimbabwe, I have to inform you that CIE has reluctantly decided not to offer examinations in Zimbabwe with effect from the November 2002 session," says the April 28 letter.

"This decision was not an easy one but it is the result of the latest instructions from the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture to the private schools informing them that they may not enter for foreign examinations."
Cambridge also said that it would end its commitment to the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) which it was assisting in the setting and marking of examination scripts.

"Our commitment to assist Zimsec will also end with the June 2002 examinations," said the letter.
Schools were officially given to the end of last year as the cut-off point for ending external examinations. Some private schools however continued to offer Cambridge certificates.

Heritage School, for instance, in Borrowdale which is modelled on a British school, is favoured by government ministers and Zanu PF-affiliated empowerment advocates as affording the best education for their children.
The board chairman for Chisipite Senior School, Alistar Wright, said they had received the letter from Cambridge and convened a meeting with parents to map the way forward.

"We agreed to engage with all stakeholders and hopefully reach a consensus on this issue," Wright said.
"We are concerned by the short notice from Cambridge and obviously this is going to impact negatively on children who were already preparing for their examinations."
Private schools affected include Falcon College in Esigodini, Hillcrest in Mutare, Christian Brothers College in Bulawayo, Kyle College in Masvingo, Lomagundi in Chinhoyi, Peterhouse and Watershed in Marondera, Bulawayo Convent and Harare schools Gateway, St George's College, Convent, St John's College, Eaglesvale, Chisipite and Heritage.

The continued leaking of examination papers from Zimsec is a cause for concern and has impacted negatively on the credibility of the local examinations board. Contacted for comment on the exam leaks, Zimsec director Dr Isaiah Sibanda said he was not ready to comment.
"I cannot tell you about our plans to curb this practice as it may act in favour of those who are cheating," he said.

10 May 2002
Cambridge bows to Mugabe and withdraws examinations

In a stunning example of sanctions hitting those they are supposed to help, Britain's Cambridge examining board has belatedly decided to bow to a 2-year-old decree by President Robert Mugabe's regime and bar pupils in Zimbabwe from taking the internationally recognised examinations.

The turnabout by Cambridge International Examinations means that some 9,000 pupils of all races at Zimbabwe's independent schools are faced with having to find money and resources to write their November examinations in neighbouring African countries, or hastily convert to a local examination of dubious value. The Cambridge board, which has set examinations for schoolchildren in Zimbabwe for generations, made no immediate comment on why it is heeding the ban just two months after Mugabe held on to power in a violent election widely regarded as rigged. All but a handful of African countries refuse to recognise the election, and Mugabe is banned from the United States and many European countries, including Britain. Asked to comment yesterday, a spokesman at the Cambridge board told ZWNEWS that Chief Executive Pen Murray would make a statement "in due course, but we can't say exactly when.'' No reply had been received by today.

Despite the decree about foreign examinations in 2000, most independent schools in Zimbabwe continued to offer Cambridge examinations. The schools argued that it was their constitutional right to offer the examinations they considered best for their students. Pupils wrote the Cambridge IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education), AS and A level examinations last year. This year's students are in the last phase of the two-year syllabus for examinations due to be written in November. Schools received the decision in a letter dated April 29 saying the Cambridge examining board "has reluctantly decided not to offer examinations in Zimbabwe with effect from the November 2002 session." "This decision was not an easy one but it is the result of the latest instruction from the Ministry of Education Sport and Culture to the Private Schools informing them that they may not enter for foreign examinations." Most high-ups in the ruling Zanu PF party, including Mugabe, send their children to private schools - and many have already had their children safely graduate with Cambridge school-leaving examinations and move on to foreign universities. The examination ban was imposed by Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere - who has a child at university in Canada - as part of what the Mugabe regime says is a drive to eradicate all "colonial'' and "Western'' influence. The decision by the Cambridge board is likely to prompt a fresh exodus of black and the few remaining white professionals in the country.
For pupils due to write examinations in November, the immediate impact is a logistical nightmare. The exams cover an eight-week period and the Zimbabwe pupils would have to find money and accommodation to write their exams in Cambridge-approved centres in South Africa, Bostwana, Zambia, Malawi or Kenya, or come to Britain. "We are feeling shattered and betrayed that it should be Cambridge, a British institution, that has pulled the plug on us,'' said one teacher, who asked not to be identified. "And Mugabe will have achieved his Marxist ideal - to eliminate the middle classes and educated." An A-level student, also too nervous to be identified said, "We are to be denied this internationally recognised and valuable school-leaving qualification - and by the very world that claims to have our interests at heart.

31 May 2002
Cambridge climbdown

In a rare climb down after strong protests led by black middle-class parents, Robert Mugabe's administration has reversed its decision to ban pupils from writing international school-leaving examinations. At a news conference this week, Education, Sports and Culture Minister Aeneas Chigwedere also dumped a plan to order all schoolchildren to wear the same uniform. That move, too, had provoked widespread public protests - and provided a chilling reminder of the green-shirted unemployed youths paid by the Mugabe regime to physically attack and harass opposition supporters before presidential elections in March.

Chigwedere said the ban on Cambridge University's International General Certificate of Secondary Examinations (IGCSE) would be shelved just for this year, with students permitted to write in December. However, government officials at private meetings with parents went further and said the Cambridge examinations would be allowed next year as well, and that Cambridge had offered to "help" for a further two years with the locally-set examinations. Heads of independent schools welcomed the decision privately, but refused to comment publicly for fear of further embarrassing - and thus risking another clampdown - by Mugabe's officials.

The ban on Cambridge examinations, announced early May, would have stopped several thousand pupils at 10 private schools writing O, AS and A level examinations in October and November, the traditional year-end for Zimbabwean schools. The pupils, most of whom were 18 months into the Cambridge syllabus, were told they had either to change to the locally set and internationally unrecognised Zimsec syllabus, or faced having to travel to examination centres in neighbouring countries. The ban, likely to aggravate the exodus of professionals of all races from Zimbabwe, produced an unusual coalition of protesters: the dwindling band of white Zimbabweans with high school-age children; members of the ruling Zanu PF elite, including Cabinet ministers who mostly educate their children at private schools or outside the country; and black urban professionals, many of whom are Mugabe opponents anyway. With unconscious irony, one former Mugabe minister protested that the ban was "undemocratic." Chigwedere, in an awkward attempt to distance himself from the original ban, told reporters: "This is the decision not of my ministry but of the government." Chigwedere also reversed a decision to force teachers to remain at their posts from 8 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., even in schools operating daily double sessions. "The nation has responded and we now know we do not have majority support and the matter rests there," he said."

Rector's letter to parents 19 June 2002

Dear Parents and Guardians

There has been much speculation and concern about whether International examinations will be on offer in Zimbabwe this year. I am happy to announce that the Ministry of Education and Cambridge International Examining body have confirmed that they will be.
It is still our hope that negotiations with the Ministry will continue and that we will be able to offer a choice of local and international examinations in the future. To this end I would ask you to read carefully my attached letter and send the simple questionnaire back to school on Tuesday.
We have given much time and thought to plotting a way forward and have come up with the following plan for this year - 2002.

B Block - Form 3
Zimsec will be taught in every subject except Physical Education. Design and Technology will change to Technical Graphics or Woodwork. Next year in A Block candidates will write Zimsec '0' Level. Weaker candidates in English Language and Mathematics and the Sciences may be entered for the Cambridge core papers if available.
In short, our aim is to enable the pupils write the best of both examining boards.

A Block - Form 4
A Block will write Cambridge examinations. Because the syllabuses and the content are so similar, parents will be given the option of doing Zimsec instead of (not as well as) Cambridge if they so wish. Pupils in lower sets will, in some instances, be entered for core papers where this will suit them better. For this reason we have decided to continue to teach Chemistry to all sets.

5th Form - Lower VIth
Candidates may write AS level in one or more subjects. Parents will have the choice of deciding while subject will be dropped after the mid-year examinations or carrying the fourth subject through to November, when it can be written as an AS level. The three remaining subjects will be carried through to 'A' Level next year. Candidates may do the three subjects at AS level but parents must be clear that it might not be possible to carry forward the grades if we are not successful in our negotiations to offer both examination systems.

6th Form - Upper VIth
All candidates will write Cambridge examinations. Again parents may opt for Zimsec 'A' Levels instead of Cambridge except in English and French.
Please complete the attached questionnaire and return it on Tuesday 25th June.
I thank Mr Shaw, Mrs Davidson and Mr Munjoma for their considerable input in this matter and thank too, our teaching staff and the pupils for their patience and support in our deliberations.

Yours sincerely
19 June 2002


Campbell MacMillan had the contract to man the school's security gate.
Workers hold boss hostage
Daily News
2 July 2002

About 85 workers at Alcatraz security firm in Marondera have been holding their boss, Campbell MacMillan hostage for the past two days demanding retrenchment packages which would cost Campbell's firm, a total of $16 million.
Speaking from his office in a telephone interview on Saturday, MacMillan said Marondera police had taken him into protective custody on Friday afternoon but released him the following day.

"I have been in my office since then and the entire workforce are camped outside my office in Birmingham Road demanding this outrageous figure of $16 million. I have told them I don't have that kind of money and that in fact, I am closing down because the business is not viable. I have done all the necessary paper work and spoken with the labour people but the workers think that I have a lot of money," he said.
MacMillan's lawyer, Lawrence Chibwe of Stumbles and Rowe confirmed the sit-in by the workers.

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