Friday, October 16, 2015


The Mozambican Minister of Education, Jorge Ferrao, on Wednesday declared “zero tolerance” of academic fraud.He was reacting to the latest cheating scandal, concerning the 12th grade extraordinary examinations held in August. An investigation into 43 of the country’s 200 public secondary schools confirmed that cheating had taken place in nine schools, involving 407 pupils.Cited by the independent television station STV, Ferrao said there had been far too much tolerance of cheating in the past. “Over the years, it has become the practice to accept that exam secrecy is violated and that the process is falsified”, he said.
In those schools where fraud was detected this time, “the finding is that these schools have been permissive”, he said. “This is something which makes us, as a Ministry, very sad. We look fraudulent, and we do not deserve this”. If the Ministry were to take no action, he said, it would be deceiving the pupils’ families, their future employers, and society as a whole. A school certificate should show employers what a student is worth –“but when we send him into the world of work, we find that he has difficulties. That’s a whole chain of investment that has failed”.The general inspector of the Education Ministry, Quiteria Mabote, said that, whereas in the past students might smuggle the answers to exam questions into the examination room scribbled on a piece of paper, nowadays they use mobile phones.There were strong indications of cheating, she said, since there was no other reasonable explanation for students in a class answering in exactly the same way to exam questions, and thus obtaining exactly the same high marks.For this to occur, the chain of exam secrecy must be broken, and Mabote admitted that the Ministry does not yet know where the leaks take place. “If we knew how the exams are leaked, we would staunch the evil at its root”, she said. “We take every measure to prevent material from being leaked, but even so, leaks happen”.She guaranteed that the Ministry would look at all 12th grade students in the schools affected, and those who were not involved in cheating will receive their exam results. Also on Wednesday, Ferrao announced that the Ministry expects to enrol about 1.32 million pupils in the first grade of primary education in 2016.At first sight, this figure seems surprisingly high. The age at which children should enter primary school is six, and projections from the 2007 population census suggest that there are no more than 780,000 six year olds in the country.But, according to education officials contacted , many parents do not enroll their children in school at the right age. This means that many of the children who will step inside a school for the first time in 2016 are seven or eight years old, or even older.Ferrao gave the figure for first grade enrolment at a ceremony where a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Portuguese embassy for support in the training of education staff. He said that the Ministry has been hiring around 8,500 new teachers every year, to ensure good quality education.But the country remains short of teachers with adequate educational training. The Ministry, Ferrao said, had therefore began to cooperate with Brazil to train the instructors who will work at Mozambique’s 24 teacher training institutes.

He hoped that, under the new memorandum of understanding “we will have more teachers trained in Portugal”.

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