No fewer than 1.6 million candidates are expected to participate in this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) scheduled to begin on Aug. 16.
The Head of National Office (HNO) of West African Examination Council (WAEC), Mr Patrick Areghan, gave the figure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos.
Areghan said that the council was working day and night toward accommodating some schools still bothering it with late registration.
He said that the development was taking its toll on the council’s operations.
Areghan said ahead of the conduct of the 2021 WASSCE, the council was working with relevant stakeholders to ensure a hitch-free WASSCE for school candidates, in spite of some challenges.
“As I have always said, conducting examination is not a tea party. It is a huge task and requires collaboration of all critical stakeholders, including the media.
“It requires a lot of preparations and even more, especially in the face of the rising cases of insecurity and the resurgence of Coronavirus pandemic in the country.
“In conducting this examination, we also want to ensure that the lives of all those involved, including council’s staff, and materials are properly secure.
“Our arrangement for the successful conduct of our upcoming examination, therefore, is in top gear as we are ensuring that we do not leave any stone unturned,” he said.
Areghan noted that examination conduct required money and other resources.
According to him, the entire process of conducting the examination – from the printing of examination materials, distributing them and ensuring security, to the recruitment of ad-hoc staff and printing certificates – is a huge financial burden.
Areghan gave the assurance that WAEC would continue to do all it could to stay afloat.
”It is what the council has been doing, and we want to ensure we continue in that excellent tradition.”
He noted that the West African School Certificate was internationally accepted and required protection of its integrity.
”Therefore, in order not allow anything reduce that standard, we shall be collaborating with the federal and state ministries of health and education as well as the police and other security agencies.
”This is in a bid to ensure that all precautionary measures are in place before, during and after the examination,” Areghan said.
The HNO said that WAEC members had been meeting to fine-tune strategies that would ensure hitch-free conduct of the examination.
He urged schools and candidates to get themselves well prepared ahead of the examination, warning that the council would not tolerate any acts capable of undermining the integrity of the examination.
”There is no hiding place for cheats.
“We want to warn schools, students and even supervisors and invigilators that there will be no hiding place for anyone who tries to go against laid down rules for the conduct of this examination.
“We will surely catch that person, no matter where the malpractice is being carried out.
“We have in-built mechanisms to detect every act of cheating; cheats, when caught, will not get their results.
“Even if you cheat in our objective test, we will catch you, using technology. This technology is called the Item Deferential Profile; it has been there for quite sometime,” he said.
The HNO advised parents not to indulge their children and wards in cheating in examinations by providing money to source for the questions from fraudsters.
”We have carried out a lot of sensitisation, reaching out to parents not to give money to their children in an attempt to patronise rogue website operators and other mischievous individuals, who promise to help get to WAEC questions for them, before the examination.
“There is nothing like that. Some even go as far as saying WAEC normally posts questions on the internet.
“This is laughable and misleading. We have tried as much as possible to enlighten the world that there is nothing like ‘miracle centre’.
“This is a creation of the society and not the council.
“It may be existing in their subconscious but does not exist in our dictionary,” he said.
According to him, there has been no episode of leakage of council’s examination questions in Nigeria since the last, many years ago.
He said that what some sections of the public referred to as leakage during conduct of WASSCE, was the work of internet fraudsters, who registered and sat with genuine candidates in the hall.
“They are served the examination papers, they pretend to be writing the examination, while they manage to snap the questions in collaboration with their mercenaries outside.
“But these days, they no longer snap the questions; rather, they connive with some unscrupulous supervisors and invigilators, who help them to snap the questions, using their own handsets, and send, after which the fraudsters put the questions on the internet.
“These same supervisors allow some candidates into the halls with handsets, even when they know it is against the law, all because they have been compromised.
“However, the various ministries of education have been doing a great job in this respect, as they have been taking drastic measures on those found culpable, by either sacking outrightly or demotion,” he said.
The HNO warned that WAEC would not hesitate to hand any suspect over to the police.
“We have a way of detecting those posting these things to the internet and go after them; that is why we always need the collaboration of the police,” Areghan said.