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MANAGEMENT, CONTROL, MAINTENANCE AND PREPARATION OF NATIONAL EXAMS IN TANZANIA AND ITS CHALLENGES



1. Department of Finance and Administration
The Department is made of two sections namely; Finance and Administration.It is a service department responsible for:

  • Procurement, storage and supply of office and examinations materials; Fees collections, payments, budgeting and preparing financial reports;
  • Administration matters pertaining to transport, repairs and maintenance of office machines and buildings, medical and canteen services, security etc;
  • Personnel matters pertaining to recruitment, salaries, training, discipline etc;
  • Discharge of Library services;
  • Liaising with Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and other stakeholders.

2. Department of Exams Design and Development

Major functions

The major functions of this department are to:-
  • Set and moderate all examination papers administered by the Council

  • Develop and regulate examinations formats in accordance with the syllabuses developed by the Tanzania Institute of Education and authorized by the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training;

  • Supervise the marking of all examinations administered by the Council

  • Prepare and issue examiners' reports of candidates' performance on the various examinations

  • Advise the Executive Secretary on selection of examiners

Examination seasons

(a) November examinations season

  • Examinations held are:
  • Qualifying Test (QT)
  • Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (CSEE)

(b) May examinations season:

Examinations held are:

  • Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (ACSEE).
  • Diploma in Education Examination (DEE)
  • Grade A Teachers Certificate Examination (GATCE)

(c) September examination season:

The only examination held in this season is the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and it is administered in the second week of September.

(d) Foreign Examinations:

NECTA acts as an agent for some Foreign Examining Boards from the United Kingdom.Most of these foreign examining boards have their examinations held in May/June and December/January every year.

Development of examinations

(a) Setting of question papers

In any subject area, setters chosen must have excellent academic qualifications in the subject being assessed. For all the above exams except the PSLE they will normally be university graduates who are conversant with the syllabus content and the mode of teaching that takes place in the schools. They must be teaching or must have taught at the level they are assessing for not less than 5 years

Every year the Council sends out to all schools and colleges what we call Inventory of Examiners forms through which the Head of School/Institution of a prospective setter is requested to provide a detailed confidential report on the teacher on matters pertaining to teaching ability, integrity, ability to handle confidential documents and dedication to work. Only after a favourable confidential report is received does the Council decide to appoint the teacher as a setter. Each appointed setter is given a guideline on how to set the questions. Such a guideline indicates a topic, type and number of questions and the skills to be tested in each question.

(b) Moderation of examination questions/items

Members of the moderation panel are usually curriculum Developers, School Inspectors, University Lecturers or experienced teachers who should not be teaching the candidates at the material time

The moderators ensure that the items and questions are representative of the syllabus content and objectives and are of the appropriate difficulty for the level being assessed.They also check to ensure the format and rubric of the paper is correct and that the vocabulary used and weighting of each item are also appropriate

Moderators are required to moderate as many questions as possible. Such questions are used by the subject coordinators to typeset examination papers.

Quality and Quality control

NECTA has established guidelines, formats and mechanisms which ensure the quality of National Examinations. At all stages of examination design and development, NECTA has set the guidelines which guarantee the quality of examinations as follows

At setting stage, although examination items are set by experienced teachers who are conversant with the subject content of a particular subject, equally competent educationists are selected to moderate the set items. This aims at ensuring the validity and reliability of the set items and their adherence to the prescribed level of candidates and syllabus.

At typesetting level, the typeset drafts of papers are also scrutinized by subject specialists. While typesetting is done by subject coordinators who are NECTA employees, the review of the typeset papers is done for each subject so as to make sure that the questions are coverage of the prescribed syllabus, their adherence to the established examination format and level of difficulty or their appropriateness to the level they are meant to assess.

During marking, the marking is done in such a way that, the scoring is fair to the greatest possible extent. The use of the conveyor belt system whereby only one marker marks one question in the candidate's script minimizes tremendously the chances for any candidate to be treated unfairly. In addition, dedicated checkers are appointed to ensure the marking process is fairly conducted. Checkers ensure that each question is marked according to the Standardized Marking Scheme and marks addition and transfers from inside the script to the outside the script is done accurately.

In general, these mechanisms ensure the maintenance of quality of NECTA's examinations at different levels


3. Examination Administration

The Department is charged with scores of functions, the major ones being:

Registration of candidates and examination centers

Registration of candidates is undertaken for both school and private candidates depending on the type of examinations and examination season; The types of examinations in which Private Candidates are involved are Certificate of Secondary Education (CSEE), Advanced Certificate of Secondary Education (ACSEE) and Qualifying test (Q.T.)

Problems facing registration process

    Non-adherence to registration deadlines:

    Different examination seasons have equally different registration and late registration schedules: some examination centres and private candidates fail to meet registration deadlines thereby adversely affecting the registration process. The major cause of untimely arrival of registration documents from up-country is infrastructure. The vastness of the country and its inefficient communication system in terms of roads, railways and postal services contribute to late arrival of registration documents from centres

    Payment of Examination Fees:

    Is not a smooth process because registration can often be made without proof of payment of registration fees. Failure of proof of registration fee payment always leads to withholding results of such candidates

    Non-submission of Continuous Assessment Data (C.A. Data):

    Schools and Colleges are supposed to timely forward their candidates ' Continuous Assessment Data to NECTA in line with laid down delivery schedules for each examination season. Since C.A. data contributes to final assessment of candidates, their absence leads to non-processing of the final results of the affected candidates. Therefore it becomes cumbersome to reprocess the results of candidates from different centres whose C.A. data availability is irregular. Hence Incomplete C.A. data means non-processing of such results

    Submission of Incomplete records from Private Candidates:

    Some private candidates provide incomplete records of their previous examinations thereby suffering being categorised as disqualified and therefore non-registration for particular examinations.

Distribution of examinations to centers

Once the examinations have been printed in the Printing and Publications Department, their distribution to the Regional Headquarters is the prerogative of the Department of Examinations Administration.

Distribution of examinations is accomplished through several designated routes, by road, railway, sea and air. At this stage security consideration is a top priority in which State Organs are involved. With regard to distribution by road each route is comprised of the following personnel:

  • Examinations Officer from NECTA
  • Police Officer (fully armed)
  • State Security Officer (half armed)
  • Drivers from NECTA.

Route destination

The destination for each route, which originates at NECTA premises, is the Regional Headquarters where the Regional Education Officer (REO), Regional Police Commander (RPC) and the Regional Security Officer (RSO) are on stage to receive the consignment. This security conscious team in turn forwards the consignment to the district level delegations of District Education Officer (DEO), Officer Command District (OCD) and District Security Officer (DSO). It is at this level that examinations are finally handed to the Heads of Schools and Colleges and external supervisors for safe custody in established strong rooms in town and rural areas.

Supervisors

External Supervisors for examination centres are appointed by the Regional Committee for Administration of National Examinations on behalf of NECTA. Qualities of the appointed Supervisors are:

  • Honesty/Diligence
  • Teaching experience of not less than three years
  • Sound health.

Invigilators

Invigilators are also appointed by the Regional Committee for the administration of National Examinations. Their duty is to ensure that the candidates in the examination halls/rooms adhere to examination rules and regulations for the whole examination period.

Returning the worked scripts to NECTA

The system of returning scripts to NECTA from examination centres follows the same procedures employed during the distribution process. NECTA officers travel to the Regional Headquarters to collect the worked scripts from the Regional Committee for Administration of National Examinations. In certain circumstances it is cost effective for the Regional Examination Committee to bring the scripts straight to NECTA.

Sorting of worked scripts for marking

Once the worked scripts are brought to NECTA premises from the Regional Headquarters the sorting process begins whereby scripts are repacked according to earmarked Marking Centres. This process is carried out in the Centering Room of the Printing and Publications Department under strict supervision of Heads of Section of the Department of Administration of Examinations.


4. Printing and Publications department

Functions of printing and publications

The major functions of Printing and Publications Department are:

  • To print examinations offered by the Council and other institutions.
  • To print and bind all answer booklets used by candidates.
  • To print various forms used by the Council in its assessment processes.
  • To print a variety of many other forms which are not used for purposes of examinations.
  • To print books and many other publications of the Council.

Sections in the department of printing and publications

In order to perform effectively the aforesaid functions, the department is divided into two sections: Printing and Finishing and Packaging. The functions of each section are as listed below:

(a)Printing:- this includes subsections which are:

  • Prepress - This deals with electronic pagination imposition and plate making
  • Press - This is where printing of examinations and various documents take place

Finishing

  • Trimming of papers/documents
  • Folding
  • Stitching /Gluing

Centring (Packaging)

  • Verification of the packaging list.
  • Labeling of security envelopes.
  • Packing of question paper envelopes in the boxes ready for dispatch to Regional Headquarters.
  • Labeling of the boxes containing question paper envelopes.
  • Dispatch of the examination boxes to the Regional Headquarters.

Printing personnel

When the Printing Unit started in 1983 NECTA had to tackle the problem of capacity building. The Printing personnel then consisted of three experts recruited from DUP. Slowly the personnel was beefed up by training some NECTA staff through on the job training. With time, some operators were sent to Dar es Salaam University Press (DUP), Printpak, Vocational Education Training Colleges in Tanga and Dar es Salaam for training. The unit now boasts of trained personnel who can manage the machines with confidence.

Security in the printing unit

The unit deals with printing of confidential documents and because of that security in the unit is given special consideration. The measures taken to maintain security in the unit during printing include:

  • The grilled door to the unit, which is always closed. Anybody who wants to get into the unit must ring the bell installed at the entrance. The person in charge of security will come to open the door for him/her.
  • Unauthorized persons are not allowed into the unit.
  • All persons working in the unit (including non-printing personnel) are thoroughly checked by the persons in charge of security before they leave the unit.
  • No printing personnel is allowed to leave the unit in overcoat or overall. They put on their usual clothes when they go out for tea, lunch or anywhere outside the unit.
  • Frequent movement out of the unit is not allowed unless there is a special reason.
  • All the personnel leave the unit when it is time for tea or lunch.
  • No one is allowed to take anything outside the unit unless permitted by the Head of the Department.
  • It is strictly forbidden to take a question paper outside the unit.
  • Printed papers are covered all the time to prevent the papers being read by unauthorized persons.
  • All unpacked printed papers are kept in the strong room
  • No cellular phones are allowed in the printing unit during examination printing.
  • Apart from the listed security measures above, closed circuit television (CCTV) has been installed in the unit to help in monitoring the movement of the personnel.

5. Department of Information and Communications Technology

The Department of Information and Communication Technology is responsible for handling all matters related to ICT, processing of CA and final examinations data. It is also responsible for releasing examinations results and personalisation of certificates and Notification of Examination Results

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