18.06.2015 Feature Article

WAEC: Test-Firing Exam Papers?

WAEC: Test-Firing Exam Papers?
LISTEN JUN 18, 2015

Are you a student going to sit for any examination that West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) will be conducting in coming years? Let me add this to your prayer points then; pray that WAEC doesn't cancel any of your papers in the name of paper leakage. Yes! Besides praying for retentive memory and good health, let the good Lord help you in that also.

It wasn't a surprise to hear of the cancellation of some papers this year too. To people like me it was expected because it appears first papers are always being test-fired. There is almost no year that we don't hear of a compromise in ongoing Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). For WASSCE; the least said about, the better.

As the cycle goes, we hear officials from WAEC issuing press releases to announce the shameful act. In addition they try to gain public trust by saying they are working round to find the root cause and make sure it doesn't happen again. So I inquire; 'Why did you fail to keep your eyes peeled in the first place?' Do you have to wait for your integrity to be eroded before you realise something must be done?

This reoccurring practice has stroked WAEC at the heart over and over and should not be seen as a stroke of misfortune but a total negligence in discharge of responsibilities from it's leadership; a crystal sign of leadership failure.

Before that let's ask some basic questions:
1. Who set the questions?
2. Who printed them out?
3. Who packaged them?
4. Who was in charge of safe keeping of the papers?

5. Who distributed the papers to the various exam centers?

You think it is the candidates, parents or teachers?

So how then do we always hear from people who are suppose to be in charge of ensuring that everything go on well before, during and after examinations of a compromise in the integrity of examinations? And if each year you keep promising that the same crime type will be investigated yet we don't hear anything again once the media's attention is off, who do you think you are playing game on? Or it is a kind of brainteaser?

You see if it is meant to be one then it's unfortunate. This isn't teasing a brain at all.

Students can't neglect the comfort of their beds learning all days to write papers for them to be told "the papers have been cancelled." Imagine how close some were to hysteria before writing and then how squeamishly they would have been when faced with this news. Taking examination hasn't been a pleasant thing at any educational level and anywhere at all. WAEC can't keep treating innocent students like this.

Assuming we don't even want to talk of the stress, anxiety and all other challenges candidates go through, must we be throwing scarce resources away like that? Ghana isn't a father Christmas. Is it? Not only that, some candidates have their exam centers very very far away from the location of their schools and therefore have to pay for cost of transportation to those centers. Has it also been considered?

That is why I am going to give these suggestions:
1. The institution; Ministry of Education, which WAEC is accountable to must develop strong bitting teeth to operate with in ensuring an overhaul 'holy' cleansing in the council.

2. This is a national issue and therefore a national concern. Methinks state security must be made to intervene in probing the rot going on there.

3. The next time we hear of this shameful act, the cost for re-writing must be totally borne by people being paid to ensure sanity in our examinations.

Yes, these are some ways we can bay for their blood. Obviously there is a crack in WAEC's wall and it is taking too long to be patched. If the one to check that crack hasn't been employed yet then total search must be done to get him/her. Looking at the security under which some candidates write their papers you are then forced to ask: If someone also breathe down the neck of officials at WAEC like that, won't this news of paper leakages evaporate from our news headlines?

If WAEC thinks annual cancellation of papers base on malpractices that it can never exonerate itself from is a campaign for ensuring public trust then it has gotten it all wrong. Not until paper leakage is blown out of the water, it can't have its pride.

Selling papers is becoming meat and drink for unscrupulous officials over the years that's why swiftly, steps must be taken to make this a non-lucrative business.

It also brings into mind the fact that institutional failures is our bane in this country. Barrack Obama was quite right when he stated, "we don't need strong men but rather we need strong institutions." He is quite right because methinks we need strong men to make the institutions strong. We need strong leadership which will not fail to act if needed to make the institutions strong.

Leadership which will not fail to crack the whip when demanded. 'Strong men make stronger institutions,' - a subject to talk about later. But then let it be known to WAEC; 'Enough of the 'test-firing'!!!'

Divine K. Kpe
[email protected]

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