Saturday, March 23, 2013

West Africa: ‘Examination fraud taking criminal dimensions’

International Exam cheats in West Africa exhibit varying levels of sophistication. (Photo Credit: Sierra Express Media)

Examination fraud has assumed criminal dimensions in some member countries of the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), its Registrar Dr. Iyi Uwadiae said on Tuesday.
“The war against the malaise has become too stressful, dangerous and expensive for examining bodies to prosecute alone,” he said during WAEC’s 61st Annual Council Meeting held from March 18-22, 2013 in Banjul, The Gambia.

English speaking countries, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia are the five members of WAEC. For decades, WAEC has been presiding over Junior and Senior Secondary Schools examination in these countries. 

Dr Uwadiae expresses deep fears over the continued examination fraud that has plagued the council’s examinations in almost all member countries.

“Cases of collusion, mass cheating, use of cell phones to cheat and the non-appearance syndrome were reported from the various countries where some of the perpetrators were said to have exhibited varying levels of sophistication and desperation,” he said. 

However, Uwadiae said the examination council will continue to protect the sanctity of its assessment instruments and processes, and keep its monitoring systems on the alert to detect and sanction all cases of impropriety during examinations.

Dr. Njogu Bah, Gambia Minister of Presidential Affairs noted the council has played an active and positive role in the development of education in The Gambia.

He said the establishment of the WAEC was a natural development flowing from one great desire to have an examining body with its own traditions to provide the sub-region with educational focus that is both relevant and vibrant.

Students in Nigeria Examined by WAEC (Photo Credit: Vanguard)
“WAEC has grown to establish a reputation as a unique institution that can be relied upon by its member countries with faith and hope in the future,” said Dr Bah, who is also the secretary general and head of the civil service. 

He said WAEC has played a prominent role in the educational development in the sub-region served as a catalyst for the educational reforms that have evolved in the member countries.

“Since the introduction of National Assessment Test (NAT), the results have become a vital tool for not only assessing candidates’ performance but also in appraising the whole education sector,” he said.

Dr. Bah denounce the retrieving of Sciencequestion papers for the Gambia Basic and Secondary Education Certificate Examination (GABECE) by students which led to the cancelation of the paper last year and students compelled to write on a science 2 paper. 

He said the incident is “an unacceptable development” and of great concern to The Gambia Government. The reprinting of the paper cost the government closed to half a million dalasi to reprint the paper.

“If examination are designed to certify the level of achievement of learners, then the need to certify the level of the process cannot be overemphasized and government will do all that is possible to ensure that,” he said. 

He assured: “Government will continue to give it both moral and financial support and will ensure that we meet our financial commitments to the Council to enable it perform more efficiently”.

Basic and Secondary Education Minister Fatou Lamin-Faye, said over the years the Council has been conducting credible examinations in the Gambia and delivering certificates that enjoy international recognition. 

This, she added, is enabling Gambia students to gain admission into Universities and Colleges around the world.

“For the Council to remain relevant to the  educational needs, it must continue to adapt to the challenges of the  time by developing new examinations, exploring more innovative ways of administering examinations and, and make use of ICT,” he said.

She raise concerns over the threats posed by examination malpractice in The Gambia’s education system.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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