Monday, May 27, 2024

Delay in JCE results blamed on technicalities of web-based application system

The Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) results are still pending after the Botswana Examination Council said the results are ready for publishing from this weekend and early next week.

The delay of this year’s national examinations is blamed on the use of a new examination processing system, the Botswana National Examinational Processing System (BNEPS), especially the web-based Malepa Application, which encountered technical problems during registration and processing of the national examinations.

The JCE marking was completed in the second week of December, while processing is still in progress. JCE candidates are still waiting for their results yet in normal circumstances their results would have been released by now.

According to the Botswana Examinations Council (BEC), the marking of the Primary School leaving Examination (PSLE) starts end of October to second week of November; the results are to be published in the first week of December.

However, the results were published on 17 December; therefore the results came later than expected.
The Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education (BGCSE) is also expected to be published late due to the technicalities of this new system. The BEC was, however, reluctant state the exact date for the results of the JCE and the BGCSE.

BEC Executive Secretary, Dr Serara Moahi, when briefing the media on Tuesday, acknowledged the delay of results as worrisome for students. She said their clients (students) always want results in time after writing to know how they have performed no matter which level they are at.

“There can be anxiety because of long expectations for examination results,” said Dr Moahi.
She said they are doing everything in their power to make sure their customers are satisfied and given the right response in time, despite the challenging new processing system.

Challenges of the new system include connectivity challenges, less knowledge and experience of the system network challenges and system bugs. The impact that these challenges bring are said to be slowing down on process of registration and data cleaning. The online registration period became a major challenge, with the bandwidth that centers operated on not keeping up with the BEC bandwidth, making such centers not to access the system completely. The system also kept on timing out causing delay of the whole process.

Dr Moahi, however, denied her team being unprepared in the use of the newly introduced Malepa, which was introduced last year. She said the delays emanated from the system’s technical slowdowns, adding that the software used was introduced during last year, and then it was trained for and tested so that the staff can familiarize with it. She acknowledged that the BEC examinations processing staff are still learning the system.

“The other reason is that, as a new system, people have to get used to it, hence there is bound to be challenges. Nevertheless, we believe that the system will produce the desired results,” said Moahi who added that a lot of lessons have been learned and registration will now be made earlier to counter any possibility of delays.

She said there will also be user and stakeholder training and communication strategy for the public.

According to the BEC, the benefits of the new Malepa system are that it reduces costs of examination and cuts down on turnaround times. This system involves registration and processing of the examination. However, marking is not yet done by Malepa and the BEC are planning to use Malepa for marking in the future.

The other controversial issue in last year’s examinations is that the BEC’s awarding of the Z grade to the candidates of PSLE.

Moahi said the preliminary results are normally published but can be corrected. She said many who were not graded or those whose grades were unprepared were given a Z. This, she said, was done because the candidates were not clearly graded, adding that most of the Zs were resolved except for the few who were genuine absentees.

Moahi said any candidate who is not satisfied with their results is welcome to come to BEC to inquire.

The other uncertainties that may surround the completion of examination include emerging cases of examination maladministration and malpractice.

According to the BEC Annual Report 2011-2012, the PSLE had no case of malpractice and maladministration reported. The report says this could be attributed to the presence of the BEC throughout the examination period.

On another case, high level examination in the BGCSE reported 3 cases of maladministration. The report says appropriate corrective action was taken in each of the cases. Investigations resulted in 2 centers’ coursework in Business Studies re-moderated and one case resulted in one candidate disqualified in Design and Technology. When compared to the previous year (2010), the cases of maladministration and malpractice were fewer in number for the 2011 examinations.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper