MBABANE: The Exams Council of Eswatini ( ECESWA) has been accused of being negligent when marking exams scripts for pupils living with disabilities.
Speaking to this Swaziland News, Veli Vilakati, a visually impaired student who sat for the Eswatini General Certificate of Secondary Education ( EGCSE) examination under the Inclusive Education programme at Evelyn Baring High School in November last year alleged that when the results came back earlier this year he got an 'X' symbol for his Religious Education despite having sat for that paper.
"When we followed up on this matter with the Exams Council my final grade became a 'D'. I'm also not satisfied with my symbols in the other subjects since I am an all time 'A' student but this time I only got a single credit in Siswati. I Iearnt that the Exams Council does not engage braille markers who are in the teaching proffession and that\'s what compromised my results. In braille there is what we call grade 1 where a candidate is expected to write words in full and this only applies in Siswati. Then there is grade 2 where a candidate is expected to write words in short form and this applies to all the other subjects. These markers who are not in the teaching profession might not know this", he said.
When reached for comments, Lorraine Dlamini, a braille transcriber at Evelyn Baring High School confirmed the matter saying they were shocked when the results came back as Vilakati was an 'A' student.
"Yes we are aware of the matter, we were all shocked when the results came back since this is an 'A' student", she said.
Dr Edmund Mazibuko, the ECESWA Registrar confirmed knowledge of the matter but emphasised that the Council always engaged professionals when marking scripts.
"What happened here is that the marker who opened the batch for the Religious Education paper did not report that the script for this
particular student was missing. His script was in a separate envelope, it was supposed to be sent to a braille expert for marking but for some reason it did not reach that expert.When the data was captured he was recorded as absent. Normally after the release of results, we usually have a quiries period, the school contacted us and we followed up on the matter and found the script, it was marked by a professional and he was awarded an appropriate grade. As a Council we regret this incident but we would like to emphasize that all our markers are professionals and we engage experts in the marking of braille scripts", said the Registrar.
Sipho Dlamini, the President of the Federation of Organisations of the Disabled in Eswatini (FODSWA ) said the concept of inclusive Education has not reached the stage where it could fully cater for all pupils living with disabilities, he urged the Exams Councils to engage them as an organisation to assess the competence of their experts.
"The Exams Council needs to acknowledge the fact that there is a problem ,they can't be really sure that their experts are capable of doing the job.They need to engage us an organisation of the disabled people so we can assess the competence of these markers", said the FODSWA President.