Chief Court Reporter
Kwekwe Polytechnic has been ordered to release electrical engineering and diesel plant fitting results of 93 students, which it had withheld over allegations of examinations cheating.
The institution withheld the results of the 93 final students, who wrote their examination in March this year, on suspicion that the question papers were leaked.
The basis of suspicion was that the polytechnic “had abnormally high marks” compared to other regions and “current trends of performance”.
To back up the claim of cheating, the institution filed two investigation reports of the suspected illegal access to examination materials, in which findings were made recommending nullification of the results.
Aggrieved by the decision, the students petitioned the High Court to compel the institution to release their results and bar Higher Education Examination Council (Hexco) from ordering a re-write of the examinations.
Justice Webster Chinamora heard the application and yesterday ruled in favour of the students.
The issue for determination before the judge was whether Hexco and the Polytechnic decision to withhold the results was illegal, whether there was proportionality in the respondents’ decision and were as the respondents’ decision substantially and procedurally fair.
Justice Chinamora found that the high pass rate of the two papers could not be blamed on cheating given the findings of the investigations report that errors were made by the markers where, in certain instances, students were given full marks for wrong workings.
“In respect of the first report, errors were identified attributable to either inadvertence or incompetence by the examiners which may have contributed to the high pass rate,” he said.
“Quite clearly, the issues of giving students full marks for wrong workings or use of wrong diagrams has nothing to do with cheating by students.
“The examiners should have picked that up and failed the concerned candidates.”
In the circumstances, Justice Chinamora found it was unreasonable and unfair to treat the unusually high pass rate as the product of cheating by students.
It was also found that minutes of the examination ratification meeting produced in court showed that culprits who were caught cheating were isolated for disqualification.
In relation to the second report, the court found that only results of the electronics paper were targeted for setting aside.
This, he said was not consistent with the investigation report findings and conclusion.
“A balanced approach would have meant that all examination papers, where unsavoury behaviour was implicated would have met equal treatment,” he said. “It appears that candidates were penalised for simple reason that they were expected to fail, without taking into account the possibility that they had confounded expectations for reasons other than cheating, for an example, preparing well for the examinations.”
Kwekwe Polytechnic also failed to show how other colleges in the same region performed to demonstrate that the institution had an unusually high pass rate. It also failed to provide an expert report on the current trends of performance which prompted the suspicion of examination cheating.