The reports that National Security has begun investigations into the operations of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), at the instance of the Ministry of Education, should please most parents.
At last, the Ministry is taking action to rein in WAEC, which has proved to be grossly incapable of running and managing examinations in this country, without lapses.
On Wednesday, June 17, the WAEC, as usual, announced the cancellation of five of the papers being written in the Basic Education Certificate Examinations with the lame excuse that it had detected leakage of the questions.
By this action, it sought to put the blame on parents and the pupils, thereby absolving itself of the problems.
According to users of social media, the examination questions had been in circulation for a week prior to the start of the examination on Monday, and officials of WAEC cannot claim to be unaware of this. They could have acted swiftly to stem it in its tide, if they were actually keen at doing so.
The problem of examination leakages did not start today; it has been an annual phenomenon at both the basic and senior high school levels, because the WAEC, as the examining body, has always shirked its responsibility of ensuring safe and sacrosanct examinations.
Whenever the problem emerges, it quickly shifts the blame on others, and makes the students and pupils the scape-goats, through veiled threats, cancellations, withholding of results and frivolous press releases.
We dare ask: Has the WAEC ever looked within its own system, to try and identify the source of the leakages?
Who collates and selects the questions submitted by the examiners? Who supervises the printing of the question papers? And who provides the security required at the printing press?
After the printing, who is responsible for ensuring their safe custody until their dispatch to the regions and centres?
We demand answers to all these pertinent questions!
WAEC has failed woefully with its duties, and in the current incident, the poor children are bearing the brunt, since they are to go through the ordeal of staying up late, and in some instances, using candles, torch lights and traditional lanterns (osono/bobo) in this era of “Dumso”, to again prepare for the papers which they had already written. Many of them may need psychological therapy because of the trauma they have been subjected to.
We urge the security agencies to delve deep into the incident and unearth the rot within its ranks, and the criminal gangs which steal, leak and sell question papers as “Apor” to the public, and the schools, only for WAEC to turn round and subject pupils and students to unnecessary embarrassment, trauma and distress, by way of cancellation of papers, as has happened now.
Enough of WAEC’s annual irritations and frustrations!