Mr. Patrick Areghan, the Head of the Nigeria Office, of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), discusses the strategies implemented by the examination body to tackle malpractices in this interview with Grace Edema.
Question: Is it true that one can get the West African Senior School Certificate Examination questions online an hour before the exam by paying N2,000?
Answer: It’s unfair to accuse WAEC of such malpractice. We’ve been a reputable organization for 71 years, known for professionalism, integrity, and accountability. We do not leak questions. However, some unscrupulous supervisors exploit the one-hour gap between receiving the question papers and the exam’s commencement to leak the questions.
Question: How can you monitor over 21,000 secondary schools with just 1,000 staff members?
Answer: We rely on ad hoc workers from state ministries of education to serve as supervisors. We meticulously screen and train them. However, some supervisors are corrupt and take photos of the question papers to share on social media platforms, where candidates subscribe to their illegal services.
Question: What are the implications of examination malpractice?
Answer: Having a certificate without earning it is morally wrong and damages self-esteem. It also erodes societal values and encourages corruption. When caught, candidates may lose their results, schools can face derecognition or withdrawal of recognition, and fines may be imposed.
Question: How can school owners combat examination malpractice?
Answer: Schools must prevent candidates from bringing smartphones into exam halls. They should ensure classrooms are conducive and free of cheating aids. The so-called “expo” materials advertised online are mostly fake.
Question: Should WAEC conduct e-exams?
Answer: E-exams are challenging due to the diverse types of questions and the lack of adequate infrastructure, such as stable electricity and computer facilities in many areas.
Question: How would you describe the standard of WAEC exams over the years?
Answer: The standard remains consistent. However, performance has dwindled due to poor facilities, lack of qualified teachers, and low motivation.
Question: How can the educational sector improve?
Answer: Focus on the 6-3-3-4 system, improve technical contents of teaching, equip schools, recruit competent teachers, provide facilities, motivate teachers without compromising integrity, and reward genuine achievements.