The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) has become the first African examinations body to embrace e-technology through the adoption of e-marking and e-registration.
Launching the e-marking programme at Chinhoyi University of Technology last week, where June O-level examinations are being marked using the new system, Zimsec’s acting director Mr Esau Nhandara said the system would be used in two Ordinary level subjects components — Mathematics 1 and Integrated Science 3.
The e-marking programme was pilot-tested with the assistance of British-based Data Research Services (DRS) as implementing partners.
“The candidate’s responses to the examination are scanned and displayed on the computer screen. Each marker is allocated a question or part of a question to mark.
“On the same screen, side by side, is displayed the expected answer (the mark scheme) showing where the marks should be allocated. The marker’s task is simply to compare the candidate’s response to the mark scheme and award marks accordingly,” said Mr Nhandara.
The June 2013 examinations will be registered using this new system.
“The information gathered is submitted on a CD to the Zimsec regional offices where accuracy of the details will be checked before these are forwarded to head office.
A six-member Zambian examination officials delegation is expected in the country this week to learn more about the e-marking programme, while Botswana and Namibia delegations are expected to come on board later in the year.
Zimsec project manager Mr John Maramba explained that the programme is set in such a way that should an examiner award marks that vary beyond the acceptable deviation, the programme stops the marker from proceeding.
“Their supervisors are the only ones who can authorise the marker after satisfying themselves that the marker has mastered the contentious sections of the mark scheme.
“Should the marker continue to err, s/he is dropped from the marking team. This ensures accurate marking, thus enhancing the quality of the results produced,” said Mr Maramba.
Other advantages of the e-marking programme include:
- The moment the marker completes marking a script, the marks are electronically added by the programme and transferred (real time) to the server. This eliminates human errors due to addition or transcription.
- Markers quickly master the question/section or part of the question that they mark, significantly reducing the possibility of marking errors in mark allocation and improves marker performance;
- The programme constantly “watches” over the performance of each marker, always ready to stop them should they deviate outside the parameters set in the programme;
- There is no shuffling of papers during marking, eliminating the possibility of candidates’ script being lost or torn once scanning has been completed.
Marking administrators, senior markers and markers have honed their computer skills and have overcome technophobia and can now compete on the international arena in the use of computer marking, says Zimsec.