An examination is intended to measure the learners’ skill, knowledge or aptitude. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) is the body responsible for organizing final examination at the pre-tertiary level in Ghana. In recent times, the goals of WAEC have been thwarted by various levels of misconduct, malpractices and vandalism emanating from candidates, teachers and even insiders from WAEC. I have never seen an examination been compromised than this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) considering leakages of papers and other malpractices.
So how can we solve the issues plaguing our examination system and make it a very credible way of assessing our learners? Of course, one way to help mitigate leakages is to move to a more digitized form of examination system. With this system, a Controller of Examination (COE) is a central administrator and assigns question setters and approvers. The final, approved papers are encrypted and could only be downloaded and printed by the various examination centers nationwide 30 minutes to the start of the paper.
With this system, one could argue its feasibility in the Ghanaian context as our network reception and internet connectivity is nothing to write home about. That notwithstanding, I agree with the General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Thomas Tanko, who called on WAEC to reduce the number of people who come in contact with the questions to mitigate leakages.
Then there is the issue of our innate value system, which needs total mending. It is now impossible for a Ghanaian candidate to prepare for an examination without thinking of “apor.” Some go to great lengths to pay for examiners to provide them with the papers beforehand. This practice is unacceptable and disgraceful to our educational system. Our system has made malpractices so normal to the extent that if you were appointed as an invigilator for instance, parents can come to urge you to help their wards. And to add insult to injury, you see candidates destroying school properties and raining insults on the President because the questions they were purportedly made to believe might come in the examination didn’t. What a time to be alive in Ghana! Change of mindset and that of our corrupt system is very crucial to eliminating malpractices.
Would a student preparing for examination in a developed country like United States or Canada think of “apor” or other forms of malpractices? The entire system there frowns at malpractices and the punishment for violating examination rules are so stiffer and daunting. Thomas Tanko also stated that those engaged in examination malpractices in Ghana are not been punished enough and all you hear is cancellation of papers, which is unfair to the earnest innocent candidate who prepared vehemently for the examination and has no hand in any malpractices whatsoever.
It is high time Ghana instituted stricter measures to eliminate these corrupt practices that are destroying the reputation of the sector and the nation as a whole. This can go a long way to change the mindset of the miscreants involved in malpractices.
In summary, you can use digitization and technology to decrease the number of human engagements. Since there are still some level of human contact with the question papers, I consider a complete overhaul of our mindset and the corrupt system as a more viable solution to examination malpractices in Ghana.