WAEC: Show Of Shame – Ken Ugbechie
On its website the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) boldly advertises its vision and mission including the core values that drive its operations. WAEC is the over 60-year-old examination body for English-speaking West African nations. It is the bridge a student must cross to transit from secondary school to tertiary institution. In Nigeria, it was a monstrous monopoly until the emergence of the National Examination Council (NECO).
This piece was written by Ken Ugbechie. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.
I recall those days preceding the emergence of NECO. Officials of WAEC, directly and by proxy, mounted a vehement campaign to discredit NECO. They had argued that the need for uniformity of standard in examination should not be compromised; that there was no need for another body administering similar examination. I stood on the side of WAEC on this matter that Nigeria does not need a duplicity of examination bodies for the same candidates.
But those who mooted the idea of NECO also mounted a strong argument. They argued that WAEC has lapsed into some sort of monopolistic arrogance; they canvassed the necessity and desirability of an alternative body to put WAEC in check. Obviously, at that time, a significant quantum of inefficiency has crept into the operations of WAEC in Nigeria. Examination papers were leaked (Expo) by officials of the organisation, marks were awarded for cash, results were altered right inside WAEC offices by officials of its IT department and many more rackets.
The examination body which started out as a model for high, unimpeachable standard thus became a trading post for fraudsters and fixers of results: the more money you pay, the higher your grades. Yes, WAEC sunk to such low depth at a time
Yet, its vision “is to be a world-class examining body, adding value to the educational goals of its stakeholders”, while its mission “is to remain Africa’s foremost examining body, providing qualitative and reliable educational assessment, encouraging academic and moral excellence and promoting sustainable human resource development and international cooperation”.
In its over sixty years of existence, the Council claims it has achieved its mission in very large measure. For instance, it claims to have “over the years developed a team of well-trained and highly motivated staff and has administered examinations that are both valid and relevant to the educational aspirations of member countries”. WAEC has every right to stake any claim. It is akin to setting examination for yourself and marking the papers all by yourself. Failure is not an option, in this instance.
But WAEC should not be marking its own script. It is the candidates and their parents/guardians who should be periscoping the activities of the examination body. This moment, I am sorry to be the harbinger of bad news for WAEC. The verdict out there among parents and their wards is that WAEC has slid into the cesspit of irresponsibility and inefficiency. Those who mouth this verdict find justification for their claim in the on-going General Certificate of Examination (GCE) across the country.
By omission, commission or sheer mischief, officials of WAEC have frustrated the desire of some young Nigerians to begin a journey into the complex, dynamic but rewarding world of electronics. In modern learning ambience, forward-looking nations across the world have adopted the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum. Some jurisdictions have tweaked theirs to integrate ‘robotics’ and applied mathematics (STREM and STEAM). The purpose is to introduce students to the core areas of technology as early as possible. It has the advantage of equipping them for the challenges of innovation, enhancing their value in the workplace and making them graduates who are sufficiently fired up for the digital dynamics of the 21st century.
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It was therefore heartwarming when Nigeria introduced electronics as a subject in its curriculum. This will give science and technology students an opportunity for early romance with the subject that is the foundation of all modern appliances, gadgets and applications in the digital ecosystem. But WAEC officials have elected to make this noble cause a national nightmare.
This article was prompted by the ordeal of a teenager in the on-going GCE conducted by WAEC, a core science student whose dream is to become a globally-recognised nerd in the spooky world of electronics engineering and informatics. His centre is Ilupeju Senior Secondary School in mainland Lagos. For his electronics practical paper he was directed by one of the WAEC officials at Ilupeju to go to another school, New State High School in Mushin, also in Lagos mainland. He obediently found his way to the new venue on the morning of the exam only to be jolted by yet another WAEC official simply identified as Tunde that he was misled by the WAEC official at Ilupeju.
He was told that all electronics practical exams were to hold at Federal Government College (Technical), Yaba. This was about 9am on the exam day for a paper advertised to commence by 9.30 am. Distraught and disappointed, the starry-eyed lad found his way to the technical college where he finally sat for the electronics practical. Remember, this is just a 16-year-old lad who does not know his way around Lagos. But he was not alone. Other candidates who sat for the electronics practical suffered the same ordeal. They were made to migrate from school to school until they got to the right venue all down to the inefficiency of WAEC officials who failed to pass the right information to the candidates at the right time. Many of the candidates actually arrived at the venue very, very late.
That’s not the end of the ordeal. On the day of Electronics theory, precisely Tuesday, September 20, WAEC officials decided to bungle it again. At Ilupeju Senior Secondary School where the young lad wrote his Chemistry paper that morning, hoping to write his Electronic theory paper at same venue later in the day according to the time table, he got the shock of his life when he was told by 2.00pm when the paper was advertised to start that Ilupeju was not his centre for the Electronics theory paper but Mushin. That means he was to write his Chemistry paper in Ilupeju and then proceed to Mushin to sit for his Electronics theory paper same day. Such clumsy arrangement from a clumsy WAEC! The bottomline was that the young lad could not make it to the so-called centre for his Electronics theory paper. He would be marked absent not on account of his negligence but on account of the lack of coordination among WAEC officials who have demonstrated obtuse incompetence in the discharge of their duties.
Many questions here: why did the WAEC officials hoard information on issues as critical of centres for special papers? Why wait till the day or even hour of commencement of the papers before you inform the candidates of their real centres for such special and critical subject as Electronics?
An organisation which aspires to “be a world-class examining body, adding value to the educational goals of its stakeholders” ought to do better with simple information management. This writer was right in the midst of all these bungling by WAEC officials who exhibited grumpy attitude even when parents and guardians sought clarification on some of their ill-tempered behaviour.
WAEC should scrutinize the kind of persons it recruits either as ad hoc or permanent staff to superintend its examination. The representatives of the organisation at Ilupeju and Mushin centres and in fact other centres that misled a crop of budding electronics and computer engineers do not deserve to wear the badge of honour. They are men of dishonour and WAEC should show responsibility by investigating such bovine show of shame and dereliction of duty.
This piece was written by Ken Ugbechie and first published on Daily Sun. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 360Nobs.com.