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Crime & Punishment of Thursday, 3 October 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

30 arraigned over exam malpractices

About 50 people have been apprehended for engaging in examination malpractices in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for private candidates which ended on Wednesday, October 2.

Out of the number arrested, 30 people have been sent to court and successfully prosecuted, after which they were fined, jailed or sentenced to both, depending on the severity of the office, according to the WAEC Act.

Twenty-six were apprehended for impersonation and abatement, three for abatement only and one for possession of mobile phone and copying in the examination hall.

This year’s WASSCE for private students, popularly referred to as ‘NovDec’, which was conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), took place from July 29 to October 2.

Briefing the Daily Graphic, the Legal Officer of WAEC, Rev. Robert Brew, said the arrests were part of WAEC’s war against examination malpractice.

He indicated that most of the culprits were apprehended at examination centres in Akim Oda in the Eastern Region, where 20 incidents of malpractice were recorded, as well as Bekwai in the Ashanti Region, where there were six incidents, while four cases were recorded in the Greater Accra Region.

Offences and punishment

Most of those apprehended were involved in impersonation and the carrying of foreign materials into the examination halls.

As further punishment, all those who impersonated others were barred from writing any examination organised by WAEC for three years, while those they impersonated were fined between GHc600 and GHc1,200 each.

Rev. Brew stated that in the impersonation cases, two candidates were impersonated by three persons, adding that all those fined were made to sign bonds to be of good behaviour.

He also said most of those who were impersonated were neither at the examination centres nor the courts.

He expressed worry at the minimal nature of the punishment meted out to those involved in examination malpractice, saying that it was not deterrent enough to scare anyone with the intention to engage in it.

He said the time had come for a national discourse on the need to impose heftier punishment on those engaged in examination malpractice in order to deter potential offenders.

Rev. Brew said the fight against examination malpractice was a collective one and called on candidates, parents, the media, the churches and religious leaders to join hands to eliminate the menace, which he believed had the potential of eroding the value of certificates issued by the council.

He said currently, those engaged in the practice were fined GHc1,200 or in default 12 months’ imprisonment.

Worrying trends

The Head of the Ghana National Office of WAEC, Mrs Wendy Addy-Lamptey, said she was worried that in spite of the arrests and prosecutions, examination malpractice persisted, and blamed the situation on the lack of stiffer punishment to discourage others.

She said the current situation, particularly during the WASSCE for private candidates, was worrying and said all Ghanaians should be worried at the level of cheating and various forms of examination malpractice goings at the various examination centres.

She said she was worried because despite the collaboration between WAEC’s internal security and the Ghana Police Service, which had seen surveillance intensified and arrests and prosecutions made, the malpractice still persisted.

“This year, we have been very aggressive. Indeed, we were at the war front. We have arrested a number of offenders all over the country and some of them have been sent to court and, as usual, fined GHc1,200, which they paid and walked away,” she said.