The Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) has blamed the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for failing to prevent unqualified candidates from writing the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
It explained that WAEC had every opportunity to prevent those candidates from entering its examination halls but instead waited until after the examination before cancelling their results.
Mr Godwin Sowah, National President of the association, said this in reaction to the cancellation of the results of 27 BECE candidates because they were not qualified to write the examination.
He said the problem of unqualified candidates writing WAEC examinations had gone on for some time now and questioned what the council had done so far to halt the practice.
Asked what WAEC should do to prevent the reccurrence of the problem, Mr Sowah said WAEC could, for instance, request all headteachers to submit the names of would-be BECE candidates while they were in JHS One.
“If, for example, WAEC asks all headteachers to submit the names of students who will write the exam in 2010 now, how can a headteacher include the name of an unqualified candidate when the students are to write the BECE?” he queried.
He said that was possible particularly in this technological age when the names of candidates could be fed into the computer for easy cross-checking, adding that if WAEC had taken its time to cross-check the names of candidates submitted to it prior to the exam, it would have detected the anomaly.
He admitted that WAEC had ever written to the association on the matter involving two private schools, which registered unqualified candidates and said, “When we received the letter, we also wrote to the affected schools, both of which are in the Volta Region, asking them to explain how it happened.”
“A committee set up to look into the matter recommended that the proprietors be queried and their headteachers replaced. We copied the letter to the District Director of Education of the Ghana Education Service (GES) where the schools are located,” he explained.
Asked whether the proprietors concerned had implemented the association's recommendation, he said they were made this year the association had given the proprietors some time and it would later write to remind them.
When asked what would happen to defaulting schools, he said, if they failed to comply, the association could recommend that their operating licences are withdrawn, while WAEC also deletes their names on its list so that even if they still operate, the school cannot register candidates for the BECE.
He also said that the association expected the GES would sanction the affected schools if they refused to comply.
In a reaction, a Senior Public Relations Officer of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, said school heads should see registering unqualified candidates as immoral and a crime and “not register them, expecting WAEC to find out later.”
On his part, Mr Stephen Adu, Director, Basic and Secondary Education of the GES said if the service's attention was drawn to a particular school that was not complying with directives, “we normally de-recognise it so that the proprietor will have to look for a nearby school to register the students.”
He cited a school at Dansoman in the Greater Accra Region, which had been de-recognised and students from that school had to be registered with other schools to write the BECE and because of that many parents have withdrawn their children from the school.
According to him, if a school is de-recognised, it is banned from registering its students for the BECE for three years during which period the school is expected to put in place all necessary measures before re-applying for recognition.
Story by Severious Kale Dery