By Taiwo Ogunmola-Omilani, Lagos
Beyond the euphoria of additional diet introduced by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in its examination for the private candidates, stakeholders in the education sector have continued to express concern over what the initiative may likely translate to.
From 2018, WAEC said it would be conducting three examinations. The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) will be conducted twice a year, in May/June for school candidates and in November/December for private candidates, while the new diet will start in January/February.
Commenting on the development, a former vice chancellor of the University of Lagos, Prof. Ibidapo Obe said the new diet was not a panacea for examination malpractices. The professor of systems engineering and administrator questioned “what infrastructure has WAEC put in place to ensure that when people write these examinations the result will be released within 60 days? This will be a good innovation.
“During our own time, we had West African School Certificate and London GCE and there is always a space between the two examinations and results come out without fail.”
He contended that the diet would increase deficiency of examination administration, adding “I don’t see it as the solution to exam malpractices.”
The Lagos State chairman of Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools (ASSUS), Comrade Kazeem Labaika said the assertion that the new diet would reduce malpractices was not correct, adding it would instead disrupt the school activities. “I personally don’t agree with the new programme of WAEC. It will also affect the completion of school curriculum”, he added.
A member of the Lagos State House Assembly, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu said it was not compulsory for private candidates to write the two exams.
He said, “The new diet would increase the chance of candidates passing JAMB. One thing is we will have many exams with parents paying more because some of them will want their children to write all the exams.”
Hon. Nurudeen Olaitan Akinwunmi representing Ifako/Ijaiye constituency in the assembly described the new diet as a welcome development provided the result of Nov/Dec would be released before the January examination would commence.
“This would avail the private candidates the opportunity to rewrite their papers and they will not be denied admission into higher institutions”, he said.
WAEC council’s registrar, Dr Iyi Uwadiae while addressing newsmen in Lagos said the move was as a result of growing concern among stakeholders over what they perceived as discrimination or denial of equal opportunity to private candidates.
“WAEC conducts its West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) twice every year, in May/June for school candidates and in November/December for private candidates.
“The council also conducts various national examinations in the member countries except Nigeria.
“Now, the school candidates who wish to retake the examination usually have the opportunity of doing so with the private candidates’ examination.
“With this development, there has been a wave of agitation, criticisms and appeal across the sub-region for the council to ameliorate the agony of long waiting experience by private candidates who desire another attempt at WASSCE,’’ he said.
Uwadiae added that the situation was often cited as being responsible for the level of desperation sometimes exhibited by the perpetrators of malpractices at the private candidates’ examination centres.
“The council, after painstakingly considering all ramifications of the matter, has finally given approval for the national offices to begin the conduct of one additional diet each year of WASSCE for private candidates,” he pointed out.
He explained that the modalities for the take-off of the examination were already being worked out and the examination could begin in February/March of 2018.
“I must be quick to point out that though the council has given the nod, the conduct of the additional diet may not take off in all the member-countries immediately or at the same time.
“But let me also assure stakeholders in Nigeria that the Nigeria national office has indicated its willingness and readiness to blaze the trail by making the examination available to Nigerians in 2018.
“Details of the scheduled dates, available subjects, location of centres and their information would be provided by the head of Nigeria national office at the appropriate time,’’ Uwadiae added.
The registrar recalled that the maiden WASSCE was conducted in the Gambia in 1998 and was later introduced in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Liberia in 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2013 respectively.