By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Yesterday, I had the opportunity of monitoring the Truth FM morning show which featured officials of the Principals Association and an official of the West African Examination Council (WAEC). The discussion centered on the poor performance of students during the recent examinations administered by WAEC. During the discussion on the subject matter, it was said that more than 60 percent of the candidates failed, something that was mainly attributed to collusion, lack of confidence, as students relied on fake answers given them by unscrupulous individuals, as well as examination malpractices. WAEC said it has taken actions against several schools and students for some of the malpractices.
Nauseatingly, it was also said that some schools sent “identical grades” for their candidates, perhaps to create the impression that these students were among the best, but their performance proved otherwise. Shockingly, unlike previous examinations administered by WAEC in this country, no candidate from the more than 400 schools throughout the country that sat the exams made it to Division one, which categorizes students who performed excellently or those who made high marks in the exams in the examinations.
As I was listening to the program, my blood boiled in me when I heard that some of the students lack self-confidence as they focused mainly on what was said to be the answers for the exams. It was said that some of them began marking the exams, without even reading the questions, perhaps because of the “Borro” (fake answers) they had in their possession. It was discovered that in one instance, the students provided 15 answers for 10 questions, only because of what they had in their possession as the real exams’ answers.
My second concern is the “uniformed grades” provided by some of the schools’ authorities to project their students as being clever. How possible is it that all of the students in a class scored the same grades. This is beyond simple logic and imagination. I should not be misconstrued as suggesting that there can’t be smart students to make high marks. But for all of them to score the same grades, is unbelievable and is questionable. In fact, as one of the discussants said, it is even tantamount to fraud, as students were given undeserved grades, to put them above other students from other schools.
Today I take the lack of self-confidence” and the ‘uniformed grades” given students as issues for discussion. The question here is why should students lack self-confidence? Is it that they were not properly prepared by the schools before sitting the exams, or is it that the schools did not adhere to the curriculum, from which the exams are drawn? I ask these questions because I see no way someone who is prepared in keeping with the prescribed curriculum would rely on fake answers. Something is wrong somewhere!
Regarding the issue of uniformed grades, again, this is a fraud and an act of the highest degree of -deception and academic fraud for which those involved should be prosecuted for encouraging mediocrity in the country’s educational system. Why schools’ authorities give grades to students when these students do not really deserve them?
Actually to engage in such bad practice undermines academic excellence and only gives rise to mediocrity, as stated earlier. Besides, it would send a wrong message to the students, as they would not take their studies seriously in that they would get free or undeserving grades to make a pass.
In all of these, I blame the Ministry of Education which has the statutory mandate on educational matters. It is the Ministry that licenses these schools and it is the Ministry that has the monitoring, evaluation and supervisory role over these schools. Has the Ministry ensured that schools adhere to the prescribed curriculum, or is the Ministry playing its supervisory role properly to ensure compliance in keeping with the standard set by the Ministry?
This is not the first time that the issues of collusion and fraud have come out following the administration of the examination. Has there been any prosecution about this? I say a big NO. The fact that people engage in such malpractice and nothing is done, it is a tacit approval for others to follow such bad practice. Let me emphatically say that once people violate the rules and are not prosecuted for it, this opens a floodgate for others to do likewise. Laws are made to guide our conduct and behavior and once these laws are abrogated and nothing is done, these violations would continue.
As I conclude, let me urge the Ministry of Education to reexamine its modus operandi regarding the adherence of schools’ authorities to the curriculum and high standard to take this country from the ‘mess’ that characterized its educational system. For too long we, including President Sirleaf, have decried the educational system. Now is the time to move it from backwaters to prosperity. I REST MY CASE