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14.10.2008 Education

Decentralise exam centres to district capitals... WEAC petitioned

By Clement Boteng, Wa - Ghanaian Chronicle

THE IMMEDIATE Past President of the Gwollu Students Union (GSU), Mr. Edmond Kadiri Sibiri, has called on the West Africa Examination Council (WEAC), to decentralise the examination centres for private candidates, from the regional level to the district capitals.

Speaking in an interview with The Chronicle at Wa Mr. Sibiri said the call was necessitated by the worsening plight of the private candidates, who travel several kilometres, from the periphery communities to the regional capitals, to write their examinations, particularly in the Upper West Region.

He noted that most of the High Schools in the Upper West Region were less endowed, and that there would obviously be a soaring number of remedial students every year, pleading that the authorities of WEAC should not make it look like a punishment to students who could not pass their examinations in school.

He, however, observed that the academic foundation in the region was weak, due to inadequate trained teachers, among other factors, especially in the villages, therefore, most of the students who were still in school, also registered for the private candidate's examination with WEAC, just to enhance their chances.

Being a victim of the situation few years ago, Mr. Sibiri sorrowfully disclosed that the majority of these candidates, who had no relations in Wa, slept at the lorry parks in spite of the risks involved, while others seek refuge at the premises of the various churches and mosques, adding that their plight was even worsened by feeding problems.

He revealed that the story of students who participated in this year's private candidate's examinations, was not different from that of the previous years, and called on WEAC to consider his petition, and treat it with the seriousness that it deserved, hoping that by next year the problem would be resolved.

With the examination centres at the district capitals, some of the candidates could leave their villages early in the morning to write their papers, and return the same day, Mr. Sibiri noted.

He suggested that at least some centres should be sited at Tumu, Lawra and Jirapa, in the Sissala East, Lawra and Jirapa Districts respectively.

He emphasised that the quest to use education to alleviate poverty in deprived regions like the Upper West, would be a mirage, should the youth be continuously denied access to such opportunities, to better their grades and proceed to institutions of higher learning.

According to Mr. Sibiri, he had been petitioning the regional office of WEAC since 2004, but he was always asked to go to the national headquarters, because that matter could not be addressed at the regional level.

He also entreated the Members of Parliament, Ghana Education Service and various Students Unions, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the region, to add their voices to this clarion call, to ensure that the disavantaged private candidates were not denied access to take part in WEAC's private examinations, since “this is a denial of the right to education in disquise.”

Mr. Sibiri observed that most of the youth, who could have made it when given a second chance, were deterred by the inconveniencies involved in writing the private candidate's examinations, and subsequently resigned themselves to their fate.

He advised students, presently in the High Schools, to study seriously and endeavour to pass their examinations at all costs while in school, in order to escape the ordeal others have been going through over the years.