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GOVT TRAINS COPS TO INVIGILATE EXAMS

By Bodwa Mbingo | 2018-09-29

It would seem government has an ace up its sleeves and is ready to put its plan B into motion.

It has come to this and it can be confirmed that officers from the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) will be at hand to invigilate this year’s schools’ external examinations starting from Monday in the event teachers continue with their strike action.

That is if activities at the Police Academy in Matsapha yesterday towards such preparations are anything to go.

A visit by the Observer on Saturday team to the institution uncovered government officials from the ministry of education and training and other ministries training over 500 police officers in readiness for the examinations on Monday (see pics on page 8). The officials took the police officers through instructions that should be given to the pupils throughout the examinations. Teaching Service Commission (TSC) Chairman Simanga Mamba, in his own words yesterday, said government will not condone any unlawful conduct by teachers and took the opportunity to assure the nation that all steps would be taken to ensure that the final examinations for schools proceed uninterrupted from Monday 1st October, 2018.

The academy was yesterday littered with a number of high ranking government officials including Principal Secretaries (PSs) from the Prime Minister’s office Victor Nxumalo, Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy Winnie Stewart, Ministry of Agriculture Bongani Masuku and that of Public Works and Transport Makhosini Mndawe. The place was also littered with top police officers as well officers from the ministry of education that included Regional Education Officers (REOs) from the various regions.

plan

This move then answers the mindboggling question whether the members of the security forces will indeed invigilate these examinations following a threat by teachers to snub the examinations starting with the invigilating process. Sources at the Police Academy confirmed that yesterday’s move was a clandestine plan that should be put into motion in the event teachers stick to their plan not to administer the examinations to the pupils. 

Form Five pupils will from Monday sit for their first paper in the examinations while Form Three and Standard Five  pupils will also sit for their Junior Certificate (JC) and Primary Certificate (PC) examinations, respectively, in due respective dates. Reports, therefore, started circulating that government had lined up the security forces to invigilate the examinations in the event that teachers carry out the threat to snub the responsibility.  In a communiqué that had been making rounds in social media circles, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) also revealed government’s contingency plan to ensure that the exams are written and that the country’s security forces will be roped in.

This comes after government successfully stopped a strike by the teachers’ body, SNAT, through a court order.

SNAT members are demanding that government give in to their 6.5 per cent Cost of Living Adjustment (CoLA) demand and they are threatening to snub, amongst other things, the invigilating responsibility.

The communiqué said that the Examinations Council of Swaziland (ECoS), through the Registrar Dr Edmund Mazibuko, has raised security concerns for the papers and the regional education offices will house the exam papers. “Inspectors, officers from the armed personnel, final year students from colleges and universities will be invigilating. The rented cars for the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) will be used to ferry the paper per day and collection will be done after the paper has been written, there will be two armed officers per school.

Mandate

This is how our government is hell-bent in not addressing our plight and we need to put in place our plan C since our plan B is intact,” read the post.

When contacted on the allegations on Thursday, His Majesty’s Correctional Services Commissioner General Isaiah Mzuthini Ntshangase said teaching was not their mandate.

He said correctional officers were trained to watch and guard prisoners not to carry out teachers’ responsibilities. Meanwhile, Police Chief Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati,  when reached on the training of their officers ahead of the examinations on Monday, said it was out of this publication’s scope to interrogate courses that are offered at the police academy.

 

She said the institution remains a private security entity that trains its officers on security issues. She had stated on Thursday that their duty is to maintain peace and order. She had reflected that she was not aware of the move by government officers to engage their officers to invigilate the examinations, hence the ministry tasked with education should be tackling the matter. “Our mandate is not to teach, but maintain peace and order and to protect lives and property,” Vilakati said.

 

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