By Sisho Magagula | 2018-10-02
FOR the first time in 21 years, Form Five pupils in the country’s high schools sat for their external examinations under close surveillance of police officers.
Yesterday marked the first day of Form Five exams and, true to the assurance by the ministry of education and training, the exams went ahead despite the uncertainty that clouded pupils and parents over the weekend.
The last time examinations were written under police surveillance in the country was in 1997 during a marathon strike action that brought the country to its knees, organised by the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions (SFTU).
History repeated itself yesterday as exam papers were brought to various schools escorted by police officers.
Worth noting is that last week, about 500 police officers were assembled at the Matsapha Police Academy and trained on examination invigilation.
Indeed, the police officers were deployed to the various high schools across the country to monitor the examinations.
Even though in most schools, the police did not actually invigilate in the true sense of the word but they were clearly visible. In most of the schools that were visited by this publication, uniformed officers were manning the gates while others were patrolling the premises.
Worth noting is that in the interest of quashing the obvious fears that the presence of uniformed officers in the exam rooms would distract the pupils, some police officers were dressed in plain clothes.
The plain clothed officers were actually the ones who entered the exam rooms and disguised as officers from the Examination Council of Eswatini. The uniformed ones spent most of their time at the gates of the schools.
At Salesian High, some officers were found packed in a Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) while others waited by the gate. It was the same situation in other schools such as Manzini Central High School. Worth noting in Manzini schools was that even officers from His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS) joined the party and provided security.
At Nyamane High in Nhlangano, some of the police officers deployed there were armed and manning the gate. Also, the ones in plain clothes patrolled inside the exam rooms.
At Nhlangano Central, only plain clothed police officers invigilated the History Paper One exam in the morning. No teacher was inside the exam room.
In schools in Northern Hhohho, headteachers openly expressed fears that police presence in examination halls would distract pupils.
This comes after schools like Mhlatane High School, Peak Central High School (PCH) Timphisini High School, Herefords High School as well as Ekudvwaleni High School all confirmed that they had two police officers securing examination halls at the schools yesterday.
In the Lubombo region, the examinations also commenced under the watchful eye of the police. Police officers were spotted at Lubombo Central, Good Shepherd High and KaLanga High School. Form Five pupils sat for two papers yesterday, Physics Paper One and History Paper One.
At the end of the day, all the scripts were transported to various police stations where they are currently kept.
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