22.06.2015 Feature Article

Harvest Of Corruption  

Harvest Of Corruption   
22.06.2015 LISTEN

The heading above is the title of a Nigerian play written by Frank Ogodo Ogbeche. I borrowed the title because I felt it aptly describes the topic under my microscopic lens today. The cancellation of some of the 2015 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) papers is what I refer to.

I was performing my late afternoon Salat (Asr Prayer) when I noticed that the message tone of my phone was beeping. The beeping continued so I hurriedly performed the prayer in order to satisfy my curiosity.

When I checked my phone after the prayer, I was surprised to notice that it had been flooded with over 50 messages. Interestingly, all had the same message: the cancellation of five BECE papers by the West African Examination Council (WAEC).

Was I surprised? No, I wasn't. I wasn't surprised because I had a fair idea of the extent of the leakage. Indeed, many people had knowledge of the apor. It seemed the only persons unaware of the leakage were the officials of WAEC. It therefore came as no surprise at all when news of the cancellation reached me.

As you may already be aware, Yours truly is an English Language tutor in one of the leading private schools in the capital. I first saw some of the English questions about two weeks before the paper was written. I rejected it for two reasons: I do not condone cheating. Also, I've never used apor for the over 10 years that I've successfully taken candidates to write the BECE English Language paper. I therefore did not see why I should do it differently this time.

A few hours before the paper, my phone was inundated with messages containing all manner of comprehension passages and essay questions. I must, however, admit that a great number corroborated the questions I received two weeks earlier. Friends on social media platforms also circulated same questions. Even market women were able to lay hands on the leaked papers.

It reminded me of the June 1990 General Certificate of Education Ordinary level (G.C.E O'level) examinations. I was then in secondary school Form 4 and my immediate seniors were writing. My illiterate mum who was then selling at Makola had chanced upon a bloke selling apor to some traders. Not knowing whether I was writing or not, she grabbed the opportunity and bought the apor.

Those were pre-social media days so she sent it to me in Larteh through a cousin. Indeed, all the apor dropped. But like the 2015 BECE, some of the papers were cancelled and candidates made to re-write them.

Many have expressed grave disgust at the recent cancellation. They argue that the leak and subsequent cancellation have caused great damage to the integrity of the examining body. Others have even called for the break in the monopoly of WAEC.

I do agree that the implications of the leakage and the subsequent cancellation would come with some cost. I also agree it would traumatise the candidates because they are the ones to suffer the direct consequences of the cancellation. The psychological trauma and the pain of a resit are simply unimaginable.

The candidates are not alone in this. Teachers, parents, the government and WAEC itself would suffer. The cost is simply immeasurable.

But I still subscribe to the cancellation. The cancellation would repair some of the damage caused to the integrity of WAEC. The cancellation is far better than turning a blind eye to the leakage.

Ours is now a society that glorifies success without questioning how it was achieved. Honesty, integrity and hard work are no longer cherished. Dubious and fraudulent ways to success have become the order of the day. How you get your certificate does not matter. What matters is that you have the certificate. Is it therefore any wonder that many candidates are looking for ways, hook or crook, to pass their examinations? For sure, we are simply harvesting the fruits of our corrupt acts.

It is indeed worrying that WAEC has still not mastered the art of securing examination papers and preventing them from leaking. One cannot help but be worried that the Council has since not adopted better mechanisms to check the perennial leakage confronting it.

It is refreshing to note that WAEC has announced a probe into the leak. It is my prayer that the culprits are found and punished to serve as a deterrent to others.

More importantly, the Council must ensure that the perennial examination paper leakage is nipped in the bud. Otherwise, this great country would be in deep trouble.

Can you imagine a society full of apor teachers, apor engineers, apor doctors, apor nurses and apor lawyers? Without a doubt, the negative impact of such a society will dwarf the twin disasters of fire and flood we witnessed recently. I shudder to imagine living in such a society!

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa, Deo volente!

By Agya Kwaku Ogboro

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