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Opinions of Friday, 19 June 2015

Columnist: Appiah, Ben Ofosu

WAEC Cannot Blame Everyone But Themselves.

........An aggrieved parent to take WAEC to court?

The West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) is responsible for the conduct of the BECE and WASSCE examinations in the country. They are also responsible for protecting the sanctity and the integrity of the examinations.

The writing of the examination questions (what is described as the setting of the questions), the printing of the examination questions, safe custody of the examination questions until the day of the examinations, the conduct of the examination, invigilation, marking and tabulating of scores are all the work of WAEC.

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is ultimately responsible for the safe conduct of the examinations to prevent leakages and any examination malpractices.

If somewhere before the conduct of the examinations, the exam questions that are supposed to be in safe custody, in a safe under lock and key, get leaked, who is to be blamed?

Since the whole process is overseen by WAEC, any leakage can ultimately be traced back to them. If a student engages in an examination malpractice in the examination room on the day of the examination, that student can be sanctioned but if the question papers get leaked and the exams are cancelled, WAEC is putting the blame on students and parents instead of on themselves.

In a statement released by WAEC cancelling four of the core papers and one elective, it stated in part "In pursuance of its quest to demonstrate its abhorrence of examination malpractice of any sort, safeguard the sanctity of the examinations and the integrity of the certificate issued..."

The Council in my opinion should say this to its own staff; that we abhor examination malpractice of any kind, that our mission is to safeguard the sanctity of the examinations, and the integrity of the certificate.

Every examination leakage can be traced ultimately to WAEC. It involves the connivance of staff members of the Council. Some unscrupulous staff members of WAEC see examination times as their cocoa season and would do everything to smuggle exam questions out to sell putting their selfish interest ahead of the Council and the nation.

They do it and get away with it so it has led to a culture of impunity there where wrong doers are rewarded with material gains from their despicable acts.

WAEC however has a duty to put an end to this practice among its employees who are almost always the source of exams leakage.

Culpability lies with the staff of WAEC and that's why they cannot pass the blame. It may be true that some parents and School administrators may create a market for such malpractice to thrive by inducing WAEC employees with money which is criminal.

Parents must instill in their wards the tenets of hard work and let them know that there is no short cut to success; and that, if they want to be successful they must study hard. But ultimately, the source is WAEC and that's where the problem is. We need to tackle the problem from its source.

I wonder if WAEC has its own printing house for the printing of examination papers or they use commercial printing houses.

What's the code of conduct of the employees who handle these materials? What measures do they have in place to prevent questions getting out? Where are all the security and monitoring systems that are supposed to be in place?

It is at the height of irresponsibility to print and conduct exams for an entire nation and cancel the entire results and do it all over again. Just ask yourself, how much of tax payer's money is wasted not to mention the psychological trauma on the poor kids.

I lived in Japan for over two decades and worked mostly within the educational sector, not even once did I hear of examination leakage. It is not even in their vocabulary; whereas in Ghana, it happens almost every year.

Do you think the international community will accept and respect certificates issued by a body that can't protect the sanctity and the integrity of its examinations?

Parents have spent lots of money on extra classes for theirs wards, the kids have spent sleepless nights studying hard for the exams, and now this.

Does WAEC realize the effect this is going to have on the students? These kids are going to suffer physical and psychological anguish.

Candidates cannot be blamed for the inefficiencies of WAEC. You allow the questions to leak or you intentionally leak them to profit from them, and then cancel the papers to traumatize these little ones and ask them to re-write imposing further burdens and pain on parents, students, teachers, and the school administrators.

Needless, to say WAEC should put its own house in order before coming out to pontificate that they care about the sanctity and integrity of the examinations and the certificates they issue. It's abhorrent to hear such double standards.

It is imperative to get to the bottom of this leakage and that is why I welcome the investigations by the BNI. Anybody who has contributed to this despicable act must be brought to justice to serve as a deterrent to people thinking of similar acts in the future.

The government represented by the Ministry of Education, and WAEC must put measures in place to seal all the loopholes in the system and prevent a recurrence of this situation.

This must be the last time we are hearing about examination leakage in the country. Meanwhile aggrieved parents must go to court to compel WAEC to sit up and be responsible.

They can also sue for damages and compensation for the pain and psychological trauma they have caused both parents and their wards. We need to shake up the system to inject sanity into it.

Ben Ofosu Appiah

Accra – Ghana

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