Education is by far what makes humans superior over other animals on earth.
It is mindboggling and difficult to comprehend the manner in which WAEC Examination questions get leaked in recent times. Even though the ultimate blame could be given to WAEC officials, it is about time we came together to combat this canker which is gradually wearing off our educational standards. The academicians and stakeholders in the educational sector must rise to the clarion call and find a lasting solution to the canker in order to preserve the quality of our education.
I said WAEC officials are to blame because the WAEC examination question leakages occur almost every year; even when there was no Facebook or WhatsApp. The situation is more pronounced in recent times because of the advancement in technology and prompt dissemination of information which is making it even more profound and glare to the general public. Where lies the integrity of our examinations if the examination questions continue to leak before candidates go to the examination hall?
For as long as WAEC officials shall continue pursuing their individual interests and personal agenda, the integrity of the WAEC examinations will remain questionable and forever compromised until the existing system is revised.
I think Headmasters, Teachers, Parents and their wards should be spared from paying the price of this game of examination malpractices and question leakages.
1. The questions are set and kept under lock and key. Even the examiners who set the questions do not know that their questions were selected for a particular year unless after the exams.
2. A day to the exam, the question papers are printed, packaged and dispatched to the various examination centres across the country with a police escort.
3. The packages containing the various examination materials and the question papers are sealed and opened only when candidates are about to write the exam. The opening is done in the presence of the invigilators at the exam hall.
4. Apart from the WAEC officials who had prior access to the question papers and for that matter the question bank, no other person has access to information about the examination questions.
Now, who is to blame when the examination questions leak? Teachers and their students or the WAEC officials? So why is WAEC arresting teachers and students in the ongoing WASSCE? In my opinion, since there was no attack on any WAEC official to rob them of the questions, they should rather investigate themselves. Amidst all the security measures, why should the questions leak?
I am completely mesmerized the reason why candidates’ results would be withheld yet the very people who exposed the questions are left to go scot-free. Why should the name of schools be circulated on social media without the names of WAEC officials who leaked those questions?? Let us be sincere to ourselves and stop punishing students just because they are vulnerable.
Except practical examinations, the existing examination system should be revised and possibly scrapped. In an era of technological advancements, let us start thinking of a new approach where human involvements in the entire process will be minimized. Some people involved in the process tend to help their wards that are taking part in the same examination. As a parent, they may want to favor their wards by leaking the questions to them. Eventually, it becomes a massive distribution. Even some officials sell out the questions.
In my view, online examination will be a perfect alternative for WAEC to curb the situation.If the questions are written online, Chief Examiners will have the option to select a particular set of questions a few minutes to the start of the examination. The selected question would then be made accessible to the candidates online via wireless connection under a full-proof system (devoid of hacking)
To this end, there would be little human intervention. There would be no need to print hardcopy question papers. Marking of the examination scripts could be done electronically. This will also facilitate the marking process and save cost in the long run. It will also enhance early release of the examination results and even limit human errors that are inherent in the existing examination system.
I know you might be thinking about the following:
1. Number of COMPUTERS required.
2. NETWORK issues.
3.Knowledge in ICT.
4. Investment required
5. Hackers etc
Yes. They are issues to consider but I don’t think they are the barriers to this initiative. People might be losing their daily bread that is why every excuse could be given for this idea.
Are candidates not paying exam registration fees? Is WAEC not spending every year on printing question papers and other things or paying for invigilation and marking of exam scripts etc.? Can’t a pretest be done on this for corrections hence implementation to cut down those expenses in the long run?
Let us cast our minds back to how education started at the Elmina Castle? Was there not a language barrier? Couldn’t every excuses be given? Was it not tried and tested? Did we not succeed becoming educated? Do you not know that nothing good comes easy? If yes, why not try this as an alternative. Picture how technology is taking over the world.
About our knowledge in ICT, I think education can correct that provided stakeholders and the government are ready to invest into ICT and this initiative. It could be very effective from primary school level and students will catchup with the approach. Even a two year old child is able to operate computer. Just look at the big picture and the sort of sophisticated gadgets pupils are using. This is possible if only we are ready to remove the limitations.
Of course, I acknowledge the fact that online examination could come with certain challenges. But I strongly believe that we can overcome them provided the government is ready to take up the challenge. I do not foresee the government losing in this regard. Rather, it will save the future, the cost of conducting examination by cutting down certain expenses.
About hackers, the system could be full-proof to guard against that. Don’t we have financial institutions that are using the online services? How many of them are being hacked? It is only the few who have compromised on quality.
Scrapping the WAEC system to introduce Entrance Examinations and cumulative grading system as being done at the university levels could be another option. But then many school may favor their students due to the competition in the system. The flaw with the entrance exam is that some institutions may exploit candidates and it could be corrupted if not regulated.
In a nutshell, the online examination will promote the validity and authenticity of examination outcomes. It is my hope that stakeholders will consider this an option to curb the situation. Thank you.
AKORTOR CEPHAS KOFI
(College of Health, UCC)