Lack of provision of security at examination centres has proved to be a threat to the credibility of Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) examinations, the executive secretary, Prof Brian Mokopakgosi, said.
“One of the key factors that underpin the credibility of any examination is security,” Mokopakgosi said when testifying before the parliamentary committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises this week. “We are also concerned about the security of examination materials at the centres.”
Mokopakgosi told the committee that there have been frequent break-ins at primary school centres, which if they continued might negatively impact on the credibility of the examination process. Because of lack of transport, he said, BEC depended on the private security companies to transport examinations material across the country, a practice that is risky. He added that security in schools where examination papers were marked was inadequate.
“As a way of enhancing security at BEC headquarters we have over the past three years requested that BEC should be covered under the Protected Places and Areas Act,” he said. “But there has not been progress on the matter.”
He said that security was critical in the examination process because if one school’s examination materials were tempered with, then the whole process was nullified. This is costly, as the whole process would have to start afresh.
However, Mokopakgosi said BEC was in talks with the Botswana Police Service to provide security at all centres, and an agreement would be signed soon.
He cited lack of funds as one of the problem areas at BEC. As a result, the council spent more time negotiating for funding from the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, instead of tackling key organisational issues. He admitted that academic performance had been declining over the past three years, as was the case globally. Mokopakgosi denied ever issuing a directive to modify the examination results, saying BEC would never do that.
The BEC boss said he hoped that the proposed amendment of the law would put to rest the sour relationship his organisation endured with teachers’ unions. The poor relationship contributed to the declining standard of education. He said teachers participated in the processes of standard seven examinations this year.