I have been following the back and forth argument about the leaking of BECE questions papers. As usual most of the social commentators are chastising the leadership of WAEC and, as a result, calling for the head of the director of WAEC. I don't want to be an apologist of the leadership of WAEC. But I want us to look at WAEC's predicament from a broader perspective. We will miss the mark if we look at the issue from a very narrow perspective. Leaking of papers is never new as far as the history of WAEC is concerned.
When I was writing my BECE in 1998, there was a massive leakage of some of the papers. So, obviously, the case of leaking examination questions is not a novelty particularly if we peep deeper into the history of WAEC. What is perhaps new is that for once the papers have so much leaked that the poor man/woman’s child also has access to the papers, courtesy social media. This has unsettled the bourgeoisies in the country. So, if the papers had not been cancelled, the poor man/woman’s child will also be competing with the children of the bourgeois over admission to the so-called first class senior high schools in the country.
What I seek to do in this paper is to prompt us to have a broader perspective on the leakage of papers at WAEC. I think that we will miss the point if we situate the present massive leakage of exams papers on the doorsteps of WAEC alone. Obviously, WAEC as a body cannot be left of the hooks of blame, but we must also uncover the invisible hands gravitating the predicaments of WAEC. It is on this basis that I call on everyone not to gloss over the multiple factors contributing to WAEC’s challenge. I argue that WAEC officials, teachers/parents/proprietors/tresses, and the police/security agents are all culpable in the leakages of WAEC papers. It is the syndicated nature of the challenge that I title the paper, ‘The tripartite predicament of WAEC.’
By Tripartite, I want to argue that there are three connected factors contributing to WAEC's predicament. The first is WAEC itself. Some officials of WAEC are simply too materialistic in mind and want to reap at all cost, fair is foul, foul is fair. These officials are never satisfied with their salaries: In any case, how many Ghanaians really live on their salaries? Here we should find out the motivating factors that will predispose an officer of WAEC to leak examination papers. Are WAEC officials, like most Ghanaians, underpaid? But should underpayment cloud our moral sense of responsibilities? What could be done to prevent WAEC officials from compromising work ethics? Who polices the WAEC officials? How syndicated is the WAEC predicament? I suggest we think through these questions carefully as we seek a solution for WAEC’s predicament.
The second in line are Parents/Teacher/Proprietor/tress collaborators. Parents want their children to attend prestigious schools in Ghana, and so they will do all that it takes, including payment of bribes etc to access examination questions: again to them fair is foul, foul is fair. In tandem with parents are teachers. Teachers and proprietor/tress have a common interest: they all want to justify why parents should pay school fees in dollars even though Ghana is not America. They would, therefore, go every length to pay their way through to get access to examination questions. The quest for reputation and the desire to maintain perceived reputation provides the false impetus for these syndicators to cajole WAEC officials into accepting bribes to leak papers. Again, we have some questions to ask about these syndicators. Why would some parents, teachers and owners of schools compromise ethics in order to circumvent the rules underlying the organization of exams in Ghana? What is the psychological orientation of parents and Teachers/proprietors/tress who bribe WAEC officials to have the papers leaked?
The police in Ghana are so neck deep in corruption that until recently, most Ghanaians would find it as insult to their dignity to be told to join the police service. Courtesy to reformation in the service, and the high rate of unemployment, a significant number of the youth apply to join the police service. The police man/woman needs money, and so he/she would do everything to make sure he/she gets something in order to supervise over the leakage of the papers. Why would the police also accept bribe to supervise over the leakage of exams paper? Are the police motivated enough to wean them from accepting bribes?
The underlying answer for the tripartite is that they are all blinded by false consciousness: we should be rich, get the best school for our children, and get some goro for our families. In the end, the poor man/woman's child becomes the sacrificial lamb or whipping boy or girl. Until the tripartite is rescued from false consciousness, we should forget about any reformation of the board. Dealing with only one side of the tripartite will not solve WAEC's predicament. I have heard suggestions from some quarters that WAEC’s monopoly over the organization of exams should be broken, but the issue is that if people’s false consciousness is not dealt with, all forms of reformation will fail. Until Muslims, Christians and other religious people live what they believe, WAEC’s predicament will continue to be an albatross around our necks. Again, until we assess WAEC’s predicament from a 360-degree angle, by engaging WAEC officials, Parent/Teacher/Proprietor/tress and the police, we will be playing hide and seek (pampanaaa: a nostalgia of my childhood days) with leakages of examination papers.
Charles Prempeh ([email protected]), Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Uganda