BOSETU confronts BEC over record failure numbers

Nearly 2000 JC students X-denoted


The Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) is demanding answers from Botswana Examinations Council (BEC) about the significant increase in the number of 2020 Junior Certificate exam (JCE) candidates denoted with Grade X, The Botswana Gazette has established.

This follows release of the 2020 JC exam results in which Grade X-denoted candidates rose from 334 in 2019 to 1838, an increase of 1504. There were 334 JCE candidates denoted with Grade X in 2018, which was an increase of 375 on the number for 2017.

The president of BOSETU, Winston Radikolo, says they have written to BEC in order to establish why Grade X numbers are so high. Radikolo told The Botswana Gazette in an interview that while they understand that sometimes the number is due to candidates who either missed some of the exam papers or absconded from the exams, the numbers for the 2020 results are disturbing, especially in light of COVID-19 and its possible effect on students.
“Considering the COVID-19 pandemic that compelled some students to go into isolation and quarantine, there is need to find out if some did not write the exams for these reasons,” Radikolo.

Reached for comment, a spokesperson of BEC, Fingile Makgalemele, said the 2020 candidates have performed “extremely well” despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19. According Makgalemele, X-denoted candidates are normally students who either missed some exam papers or absconded from the whole exams.

“Our understanding is that mostly X-denoted candidates who registered as private candidates snub the exams for different reasons,” she said. “We still have to find out if the majority are private candidates or public school candidates in order to make an informed decision.”

The 2020 JCE results show that a total of 43 883 candidates sat for the examinations, an increase of 7% on the 41 048 candidates in 2019. Overall performance for all 2020 JCE candidates – which includes government schools, private schools and private candidates – shows that 80.72 percent obtained Grade E or better compared to 84.76 percent in 2019 showing a decline of 4.04 percent. The results also show that 33.16 percent of candidates obtained Grade C or better compared to 35.38 percent in 2019, which is a 2.22 percent decline on the results for 2019. The overall pass rate for 2020 JCE cohort is 80.72 percent.