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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Columnist: Ivan Kyei Innocent

WAEC annual bombshell is yet to explode again!

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By: Ivan Kyei Innocent

The monopolization of academic certification by West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) at the second cycle institutions is a recipe for intellectual disaster considering the emerging waves of scandals sweeping over the conduct of examination in our institutions.

It appears that the integrity of WAEC is severely bartered so badly that many parents with the financial muscles are forced to abandon local schools and enrolled their wards in schools affiliated to educational institutions in the diaspora.

Examination question leakages and malpractice has become an ritual celebrated annually and no genuine commitment is attempted to bridge these unending lapses in our educational system.

This situation has rendered certificate issued by WAEC valueless and many tertiary institutions prefer to conduct their own examination to reassess student before admission.

This is the level of depreciation WAEC certificates has assumed, it's a pity.
Many stakeholders have expressed the need to scrap this overwhelming WAEC entanglement which has created a huge gab of intellectual lapses in our educational system.

Many countries have adopted series of measure to prevent a possible case of corrupt practices in examination by Liberalizing the system to pave wave of other agencies with requisite authorization from government to conduct examination, the situation offers alternative for students and parents to choose which of the examinations to write.

This situation has naturally stifled healthy competition among various examination boards in the contest to be adjusted superior ahead of others hence cases of examination leakage is reduced to the nearest minimum if not total elimination at a go.

WAEC's monopoly over the year has created lots of mess tainting academic integrity in Ghana and the preponderance of evidence which substantiate this act is overwhelming.

Aside the annual ritual of examination leakages, another lingering scandal is the procurement of certificate by persons who have never attended any educational institution before or those who failed abysmally in academics.

The WACCE certificate verification process in some tertiary has recorded hundreds of fake certificates which many were issued from WAEC. In other instances, the officials collaborate with students to change their names to names of deceased students and sell them their certificate. This is the common practice aside the usual leakages and the preponderance of evidence in the public domain is staggering and overwhelming.

The public lamentation about the injurious integrity of WAEC seems not to be the concern of stakeholders of education in Ghana.

The risk here is that once students become obsessed with the idea that even if they do not learn, there's a way to pass exams, we will get a point where every student will complete school with aggregate 6 with empty head just as it has started and such candidates will choke various universities and graduate as academic junkies who could only boast of a mere papers, that's certificate but no academic brain to celebrate! This is a looming disaster likely to engulf our country in a time not too distance from the future.

A significant number of Ghanaians are calling for diversification of the sector where highly supervised private entities will be allowed to run examination in this country and offer students the luxury of opportunity to choose from the pool.

According to experts, diversifying sources of academic certification will address the systemic and rampant corruption which is striping education naked to onlooker without a blink from stakeholders.

There are several students who are doing great in academics and their passing is well deserving but the shame of this cancer has been eating deep into the fabrics of core academic integrity of such good students which is a worry but who is to be blamed, the system of course!

In a few months from now despite all the talks, the next WAEC paper will soon leak, and become available to the extent that the woman selling corn on the roadside will lay hands on and use it to wrap her hot roasted corn for buyers.
Readers should just watch out, this is going to happen because the impunity in the system is beyond repair.

Fast backward to the 1990's l saw students struggling to get grade C in English with that notwithstanding, those students were very good academically but fast forward to 2010 and beyond, even most with aggregate 6 cannot be trusted for academic competences.

To certain extent some teachers are to be blamed for this development, some are indeed doing a poor job at the classroom and deepen the academic woes of students. Some lectures give out lecture notes that are 5 years old without a single review, some encourage what is popularly described as "chew and pour" expecting their students to replicate verbatim notes given to their students during examination, and those who do otherwise are penalized with lower score.

Yes most of the schools lack the infrastructure required to promote teaching and learning but the huge gap between passing examination and the quality of intelligence cannot be compensated for with this fragile excuse.

We can address this systemic episode of academic frustrations by training the minds our students instead of training them for ordinary papers (certificates).

The weakness also exist in various universities, with a poor oversight responsibilities, some lectures exercise poor discretion and resort to poor teaching methods, a situation which has significantly contributed to the lower academic standards among the teaming graduates from various universities.

I pray the current policy makers on education to inculcate the idea of diversifying sources of academic certification to awaken the limping quality of education in Ghana. We shall over the challenges, the bible is my witness.

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