Saturday, January 22, 2022

Mokopakgosi answers public concerns over BEC delays in releasing schools results

The Executive Secretary of Botswana Examination Council, Professor Brian Mokopakgosi has for the first time confronted public disquiet over what are perceived to be inordinate delays by BEC to release schools examinations results.

Generally, the public is of the view that since the establishment of BEC, there are longer delays in releasing the Primary School Leaving Examination, Junior Certificate and indeed the form five school leavers compared to an earlier epoch when results were handled at the Ministry of Education through the Department of Curriculum in conjunction with Cambridge in the instance of form fives. Clarifying the delays to the media during the week, Professor Mokopakgosi pointed out that the BEC mandate extended far beyond just examination and certification.

He said there are about twenty odd steps all of which have to be undertaken diligently if the final outcome is to have the integrity that the public expects from BEC overall product. He said naturally this has an effect of stretching BEC resources. Mokopakgosi pointed out that over the years there has been a consistently growing number of candidature which has culminated in a bigger workload for BEC. Government has during that time also introduced a programme called “Back to School” which has served to further compound the amount of work for the examinations authority.

Added to that, said Mokopakgosi, is the broad diversity of candidature that falls under the mandate of BEC. Among others these include a couple of hundreds of teachers that BEC use to mark the scripts. Owing to sensitive security considerations, BEC also has to identify suitable accommodation where scripts marking is to happen. Mokopakgosi said finding a suitable venue for marking is by itself a hassle because of school calendars that clash with marking times. BEC itself does not as yet have a venue that is big and secure enough to take care of marking. “Security is an extremely important component of what we do,” said Mokopakgosi.

He pointed out to the fact that BEC also is responsible for putting together an elaborate process that includes registration of candidates, coordinating the Regional Examination Administrators, printing of examination material, training of invigilators and appointing moderators. When that is looked against the context that material papers ultimately have to be delivered across great swathes of distance including to the remotest corner of the country with some of that material entering the country from overseas, he said the work that goes on behind the scenes, often without public knowledge is complex and exceedingly time consuming.

He also clarified the exact mandate of BEC in as far it pertains to often misplaced blames that BEC is responsible for deteriorating student performance. This follows public angst that BEC is to blame for deteriorating performance. He said BEC job is not determine that students pass but to assess that they have passed. “My job is to make sure that my part has been properly done and that I can defend it,” said Professor Mokopakgosi. He also took time to respond to why BEC never announces in advance the exact date when any results will be released. “We never tie ourselves to a day but rather to a week.” This he said was because given the elaborate nature of the process, a glitch anywhere along the chain invariably has a ripple effect on delivery of the whole process.

“Releasing exams is also cumbersome because students are scattered all over the country.” While there have been disquiet over the competence of BEC computer application to process the results, Mokopakgosi has allayed any such fears by saying the mistakes of the year 2012 could not be repeated. He said the application, called Malepa has been put through stress tests and has proved seamless as to be foul proof. “Everything is now in order. Our view is that we are also delivering within time.

We are aware that in the past results used to come out before Christmas. When we jumped over that time frame, people thought it was unacceptable. We want to point out that there has over the years been increase in candidature. While in the past it was non-referencing, now we focus on standards and skills which means there is more work being done by us which increases time spent,” said Mokopakgosi.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper