The Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) has introduced new regulations that impose stiffer penalties on people involved in the leakage of public examinations and cheating.
Under the new regulations, individuals convicted of leaking public examination question papers could get nine-year prison sentences, while learners found guilty of the same offence will have their results nullified.
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Previously, those found guilty of similar offences faced up to a year in jail but the courts prescribed community service for the majority of offenders.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail, ZIMSEC board chairperson Professor Eddie Mwenje said the new regulations will be gazetted soon. He said:
We have been working on new regulations meant to curb leakages of the question papers.
We have realised that there are individuals who are taking advantage of the current regulations and making money out of the leakages.
So, with the help of the Attorney-General, we drafted new regulations that impose stiffer penalties, and they will be gazetted soon.
ZIMSEC public relations manager Nicolette Dlamini told The Sunday Mail that the new regulations will deter would-be offenders. She said:
Anyone caught with Zimsec papers this time around is given a nine-year imprisonment sentence and there is no community service, because some people were taking advantage of the light sentences imposed by the courts, and that is why we are introducing stiffer penalties. They are charged under the ZIMSEC Act.
ZIMSEC says it will nullify the results of (i) candidates found in possession of question papers prior to the examination, (ii) candidates found to have had pre-access to examination papers, and (iii) candidates found to have distributed exam papers prior to the tests.
The candidates will only be allowed to write their exams “after four examination sessions”, according to the new regulations.
In 2022, 11 exam papers leaked. More than 100 people were convicted for having pre-access to the papers, among them school headmasters, teachers, police officers and learners.