By Cecilia Iyambo
The Namibian marking system is one of the key components of the country’s education system. This has prompted
the education ministry to take all measures possible to ensure confidentiality of question papers and sourcing of highly competent markers.
With 9609 markers in the system currently, the ministry at the moment operates without a policy administration guideline and code of conduct for national examinations. The system is currently being developed said the ministry’s spokesperson Johanna Absalom.
“However there are marking guidelines. Teachers to be appointed as markers apply on a yearly basis. The Ministry appoints a marker for one year only and then they have to reapply,” she said.
Only practicing teachers are used in the item writing process. The item writers must have a sound knowledge of the syllabus being taught in school.
Marking of external examinations is done every year after grade 10 and 12 learners sit for their examinations. To ensure the confidentiality of the questions an item Banking system was developed where a group of teachers, from different regions, with the subject knowledge are brought together to develop items based on the topics and competencies of a particular syllabus.
There have however been concerns from those in the education circles questioning the transparency of the entire system, seeing that teachers who are used to set exam question papers sometimes form part of the marking team. Some fear that those setting the exams could leak possible examination questions to the learners at their respective schools.
“Compilation of question papers is the responsibility of Education Officers working at the Directorate of National Examinations and Assessment,” said Absalom when approached to shed light on the country’s marking system.
“This is done in order to ensure confidentiality of the question papers to be written for the year. For example the items which will be produced during 2016 will be banked and only used after two to three years. Whenever there is a change to the syllabus content, the items are reviewed,” Absalom explained.
Absalom said the ministry makes use of guidelines approved by the National Examination, Assessment and Certification Board on the appointment of teachers who are markers.
“Teachers to be appointed as markers must have a minimum of three years of experience in teaching a subject at that particular grade applied for and must be currently teaching the subject. On a yearly basis applications are sent to Regional offices for distributions to schools,” she revealed.
She also indicated that it is the prerogative of the respective school principals and the Advisory teachers to ensure that potential markers meet appropriate requirements as approved by the National Examination, Assessment and Certification Board before forwarding such application to the Regional Director for recommendation or not for appointment at Head Office.
Namibia’s marking system also makes room for the electronic marking concept. During electronic marking, answer scripts are scanned and displayed on the screen of the computer where a marker applies the principles of marking.
The system is designed to mark short answer questions; long answers questions in any particular subject.
“The test pilot was done in content subjects such History, Entrepreneurship, Geography and history and no problems were detected. It is an accommodative mode of technology where nothing is lost. It maintains standard and quality. The scanning process does not change the answers of the candidate as they are reflected in their original status on the screen,” she said.
By Cecilia Iyambo