We note with concern and regret, the events surrounding the commencement of written papers at this year's WASSCE, specifically, the misconduct of students and some teachers. We wish to render an unqualified, collective apology to His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, for any embarrassment occasioned by the unfortunate pronouncements of some recalcitrant students who have thankfully, been brought to book. Having monitored examinations in Ghana in times past and present, we wish to proceed to make the following observations that are at the base of this year's WASSCE disturbances, and recommend some remedial measures moving forward:
- Secondary education has been publicized enough; Politicians must cease making predictions on this year's WASSCE results as it has a tendency of affecting public acceptance. Anytime a politician makes such predictions, it fuels a process that may lead to the politicization of the results of the WASSCE.
- There is growing indiscipline in our schools due to the interference of external actors in schools' disciplinary processes and outcomes. Such interferences only embolden students with impunity and lower the recognition of the authority of school heads as principals of discipline in schools. Let's leave school heads to manage the schools in line with the GES' disciplinary code, and hold them accountable for their stewardship.
- There is a developed black market for trading in examination leaks, commonly called 'Apo'. This industry has developed with the growth of the internet and mobile communication gadgets. Our study of the 'Apo' value chain in the past decade suggests that every year, students contribute huge sums amongst themselves, to purchase these questions, sometimes from anonymous sources. This has over the years lowered the enthusiasm and efforts invested in learning by some finalists, as these questions mostly do not disappoint. Last year, there were leaked questions on social media in Integrated Science and mathematics, which all appeared in the exam. Unfortunately, this year, there has been a disappointment, leading to the rioting.
- The security of questions continue to be a huge challenge for the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for decades, without which there wouldn't have emerged this black market. WAEC has failed over the years to secure their questions, consistently raising questions of standards and quality assurance. In view of the inefficiencies in WAEC's examining approaches, we respectfully recommend the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for examining bodies, including WAEC, while taking steps to dilute their monopoly.
- A Regulator of Assessments, similar to the Office of Qualification and Assessments in the United Kingdom, would provide quality assurance, standards enforcements and grant/revoke licenses to examining bodies including WAEC, on the basis of the quality of their assessment practices, including the security of questions. Presently, WAEC does not operate under any external regulation, and cannot determine and appraise their own standards and performance. Pursuant, a detailed memorandum is being submitted to your good offices and Parliament.
- Presently, there are several international examining bodies operating in the pre-tertiary education space, specifically in the private sector. The reputations of these groups are not in question as one hardly hears of any leakage in examination papers. It is our considered opinion that, it is long overdue for Ghana to consider inviting some healthy competition in the Public Pre-Tertiary Examinations Sector to help improve standards under the proposed Regulator of Assessments.
- It is necessary to approach this year's WASSCE unrest with an honest and holistic perspective, with the aim of systemic reform. Anything short of this would, as usual, manage the situation temporarily for a recurrence next year.
- Finally, while the decision by the Ghana Education Service to dismiss the rampaging students is commendable, we wish to appeal to you, to consider allowing them to sit for their remaining papers in their respective schools as day students, under the necessary security.
Executive Director, Africa Education Watch