EMAP seems to be causing much confusion around the country with thousands of parents, guardians and form 1 applicants, panicking as the Form 1 Ministry of Education’s online system (emap.co.zw) that was not available much over the weekend has been up and down with many unable to register online. A lot of users have received the 404 error or as we tried prior to publishing this article we received the error in the image above.
It’s possible that the server got overwhelmed with the number of requests and this is what is causing the site to crush. In simple terms the site is running out of resources to handle the amount of traffic it is receiving. It could also be, among other causes, just wrong configurations on the server hosting the site. This frustrating experience will make this system an even harder sell as it was already met with much controversy especially because only a small fraction of parents and students have reliable internet access so most would not be able to use it in the first place.
Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Education developed the system as a way of automating the application process for securing boarding places for Form 1 students across the country – noble and progressive idea. The system is supposed to gather details of applicants and match them to available schools based on some pre-determined criteria that we cannot verify at the time of writing this article. There are reports on the web and on social media of some parents and students successfully registering but most not without challenges and finding work-arounds for hurdles experienced on the system.
We ran a quick audit on the website and found, through the audit application, the below information that probably needs attention:
- Nameserver records returned by the parent servers are:
ns1.telone.co.zw. [‘22.214.171.124’] [TTL=86400]
ns2.telone.co.zw. [‘126.96.36.199’] [TTL=86400]
- Recursive Queries: We could use the nameservers listed above to perform recursive queries. It may be that we are wrong but the chances of that are low. You should not have nameservers that allow recursive queries as this will allow almost anyone to use your nameservers and can cause problems. Problem record(s) are: 188.8.131.52
- Different subnets: WARNING: Not all of your nameservers are in different subnets
- Different autonomous systems: WARNING: Single point of failure
- Number of MX records: OK. Looks like you only have one MX record at your nameservers. You should be careful about what you are doing since you have a single point of failure that can lead to mail being lost if the server is down for a long time.
- TLD Parent Check: WARNING: Looks like the parent servers do not have information for your TLD when asked. This is ok but can be confusing.
While our unofficial audit returned many good settings on the site we have only highlighted areas of concern to hopefully assist the Ministry in investigating and resolving this issue asap.
The above image is the EMAP system’s landing page when the site is up. Many are now wondering what the next step will be since the deadline was today. At the time of posting this article we have not seen any updated information. We will keep our ears and eyes open and update you asap. If you have any new information please post it in the comments below.
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