How 2020 WASSCE wobbled, fumbled to a close

…Exercise beset by malpractice
…WAEC to sanction perpetrators

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Pic.24. Student of Government Secondary School, Fadan Kaje, Zankwa in Kaduna South Local Government Area, writing the 2020 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), in Kaduna on Monday (17/8/20) Ibrahim Bashir/BJO/NAN

By Adesina Wahab and Elizabeth Osayande

NOT a few Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when the Federal Government finally confirmed that the country would take part in this year’s West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations, WASSCE, conducted across the subregion by the West African Examinations Council, WAEC.

Before the FG’s pronouncement, there had been policy somersault on the matter, while some states threarened to go ahead and enrol their candidates for the exam, since education is on the Concurrent List in the 1999 Constitution.

However, with students being at home for about six months as a result of school closure and the tough economic situation foisted on the people as a fallout from COVID-19 pandemic, some people expressed reservations about how the exam would go without hitches.

True to the reservations of some people, the exam started on a rough note with an allegation of leakage of questions which WAEC promptly refuted.

Despite that, there was a surge in various forms of malpractice with some students and parents recounting their experiences in the just-concluded examination.

The major form of malpractice is compromised invigilators colluding with school owners and management to photocopy question papers and asking some teachers to answer the questions and send back to the candidates through phones or outright reeling out the answer to the students.

The situation was accentuated by students who have become academic rusty at home.

According to a parent who declined to be named, the school where his daughter sat for the WASSCE reeled out the answers to the candidates.

In his words: “My daughter, who took part in the exam, shared her experience with me and I thought I should share it. She observed that the school authority connived with the invigilators to call out the supposed correct answers. According to her, some were wrong answers.

“After the exam started, they compelled them to listen and cooperate! And there were students who would be doing nothing until such answers arrived.

“However, she said she noticed that not all the invigilators agreed to this arrangement. I am feeling so sad and annoyed at the same time that if I had the wherewithal, I would arrest school owners found culpable and close down such schools and ban these invigilators for life without paying them for this exam.”

For a teacher, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the school where he teaches also engaged in providing answers for their students. “I am a teacher and I am ashamed of what I saw.

“What did I do to stop it? Nothing. Why? Because the students have paid for it, and I am not the school owner.”

Alleged conspiracy by WAEC officials

A teacher recalled an experience, she termed painful, saying, “To my utmost chagrin, a friend told me of her neighbour, a young girl I know to be brilliant being helped by the principal who supplied her with answers as an external candidate

“Unfortunately, it has become a norm in our educational sector, parents, school owners are culprit of this coupled with weak laws from the side of government.

“Even the so-called monitoring groups set up by state government demanded money to allow students to be able to cheat. Only God can deliver this country.”

Mr Deji Ige (not real name) pointed out that some school owners and management, who claim to be upright, in fact go to WAEC to solicit for help for their students.

Ige explained: ”Some schools don’t engage in it in the examination hall, so they don’t give any ‘expo’ but they go direct to WAEC to bribe their way.

“Have you not seen schools donating millions of naira worth of items to the WAEC? Have you seen their students results?

“My people, I know a school owner that says “we don’t play the game at low level, we talk to their Oga.” Sometimes what you see in school might not be what it is,” he noted.

Some parents are culpable

Some stakeholders are of the view that some parents are the ones promoting the social vice.

Mrs Chinenye Ibeh has this to say: “In fact, parents and teachers are the real culprits. Let them repent and toe the line of honesty and we will see sanity restored to the system.

“What baffles me though is that everybody is condemning this awful behaviour; who then is guilty, they aren’t ghosts that I know.”

Another parent has this to say: “A parent told me that every day the daughter went for exam, she spent between N1500 -N2000 for paper signing.”

Reasons for examination malpractice

Mr Matthew Ayinde attributed the menace to poor renumeration for teachers and the inability of some school owners to engage competent hands.

“Examination malpractice is one of the main reasons why teachers are poorly paid. Some school owners reason that since the children will be taught during exams, there’s no need to employ competent teachers to teach them.

“And so, they employ charlatans and pay them peanuts. Who is to blame? he asked”.

Solution to the problem

Speaking on ways to curtail malpractice in the conduct of both national and international examinations such as WASSEC, Mr. Idris Adeyeba said the deployment of information communication technology was key to addressing the challenge.

“The solution to exam malpractice is very simple. It requires two things: ICT and readiness of examination bodies to deploy it. JAMB overcame exam malpractice with these and they are evolving every year,” Adeyeba said.

Oluwanbe Andrew suggested the use of ICT and the exclusion of private schools from WASSCE. “To settle this whole problem, WAEC should not permit private schools to allow their candidates take the exam in their schools.

“The system collapsed right from the negligence by the government itself. Let private school candidates write the examination in public schools under CCTV watch”

For The Concerned Parents and Educators Initiative, CPE, an online platform, there was need for the Federal Government to declare war on exam malpractice in Nigeria.

The group, headed by Mrs Yinka Ogunde, made this call at a stakeholders’ dialogue recently.

According to them, It was clear that examination malpractice cut across all levels and for it to be eradicated there was need for the active engagement of government, private school owners, teachers, parents, law enforcement agencies, students, examination bodies, tertiary institutions, faith communities etc.

While Mrs Ogunde called on government and the National Orientation Agency to set in motion the process needed to attack the monster of exam malpractice in our nation.

One of the speakers, Mrs Funke Fowler-Amba, advised schools to look for assessment methods that would not involve grading students by positions.
WAEC’s position

Reacting to the allegation of gross misconduct and malpractice in the WASSCE, the WAEC spokesman, Mr. Demianus Ojijeogu, has this to say: “I can state categorically that there was no leakage of the question papers.

“What our investigations and monitoring of the examination revealed was that some unscrupulous supervisors, invigilators and candidates, for cheap gain, when the paper would have commenced, would snap the question papers with their mobile phones and send it to their collaborators outside to solve and post on designated ‘rogue websites’ and social media.

“Allegations of extortions of candidates by schools that were received by the Council will be useful in guiding further investigations of such schools and those found wanting will be severely penalized.”

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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