The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) has nullified the results of nearly 5,000 Ordinary Level candidates for alleged cheating during the 2022 end of year public examinations.
State-controlled newspaper the Herald reported Saturday that 4,961 candidates had their results nullified after ZIMSEC established that they had accessed question papers prior to sitting for particular examinations.
ZIMSEC chairperson Eddie Mwenye said Friday that the cheats accounted for 1.78 percent of the 278,760 candidates who sat for the end of year examinations.
The overall pass rate for those sitting for at least five subjects was 28.96 percent.
While some of the alleged cheats were identified while sitting for the examinations, others were flushed out during marking and grade reviews.
"The results of such candidates were nullified for the subjects in question in accordance with the Zimsec Act, Section 34.
"Candidates, headmasters and members of the public who were caught posting question papers on WhatsApp and those buying them were arrested and appeared in court," Mwenye said.
Examination papers which were said to have been leaked were mainly for mathematics and English.
The integrity of the country's school examinations system has for years been under siege from cheats who access question papers prior to the date of writing, prompting authorities to rope in the police to fight the scourge.
ZIMSEC and school authorities have blamed each other for the leakages, with ZIMSEC insisting that the leakages occur outside its offices and at the schools.
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One teachers' union also attributed the leakages to poor conditions of service which led some teachers to engage in corruption in a bid to survive.
In one of the cases taken to court, a deputy headmaster and an English teacher at a school in Tsholotsho District, Matabeleland North Province, pleaded guilty to charges of criminal abuse of duty after they leaked an English examination paper to selected candidates at their school.
Tsholotsho Magistrate Victor Mpofu sentenced the two to three years in jail each, 18 months of which were, however, commuted to community service while the other 18 months were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
Another teacher also appeared before another magistrate in the same district for allegedly getting the questions of a mathematics examination through a mobile phone and revising them with his students prior to them sitting for the paper.
In other incidents, school teachers and members of the public have written examinations on behalf of some candidates.
School administrators and their members of staff are said to be involved in these practices in a bid to boost the pass rates at their institutions, particularly at private colleges seeking to attract more students.
Examination centers which would be found to have been complicit would also be deregistered, Mwenye said.