The Chairman of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Professor Ato Essuman, has proposed stiffer punishment for persons involved in all forms of examination malpractices.
That, he said, would make examination leakages and cheating an unattractive venture and complement measures put in place by the Council to protect the integrity of the examinations it conducts.
“We have to take another look at the regulations to make it unattractive. The regulations are too lenient”, he told journalists yesterday after a tour of some centres of the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Accra.
Accompanied by the WAEC Head of National Office, Wendy Addy-Lamptey and other officials, Prof. Essuman visited Wesley Grammar Senior High School (SHS); Ebenezer SHS and St Margaret Mary SHS, to get first-hand information on the conduct of the examination which ends on Friday.
As of the time of the visit, the candidates were writing the Integrated Science paper, the last core paper in the examination and the final lap for the majority of the candidates across the country. The atmosphere was serene at all the centres.
Pointing out the leniency of the regulations, Prof. Essuman cited the three-year ban given to students who cheat, saying “If you cheat you’re banned for three years, after three years they can go back. When we increase the number of years you would assess the risk you want to take first.”
According to him, the sanctions could only be stiffened if all five WAEC member countries discuss such and accept the proposals at the international level, while it also required the cooperation of all stakeholders of the examination.
In the meantime, he said, existing regulations and sanctions would be applied to the latter to ensure that persons who had been caught circumventing the system would not go unpunished.
“As WAEC we have some responsibilities to bear. We will do the things we have to do to protect the integrity of the examination and we would solicit the support of the government, teachers and parents to do so”, he said.
Prof. Essuman expressed worry that despite efforts to build a group of students and individuals with integrity in the country, the issue of cheating still persisted, while some parents and teachers go an extra mile to acquire supposed examination questions for their wards to enable them pass.
“As parents and teachers when we encourage these things we are showing the children things that will not lead to the development of the country”, he said.
Noting that intelligence without good character was useless, Prof. Essuman, charged all stakeholders to play effectively their respective roles in the education of the country’s future.
A total of 446,321 candidates, made up of 221,437 males and 224,884 females drawn from 965 schools are writing the examination which started on August 16, at 763 centres across the country.
The examination written by the second batch of beneficiaries of the free SHS programme was rocked with allegations of leakages, arrest of some culprits and postponement of two of the papers.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR