Controversy is once again trailing who among the 1,590,173million candidates that sat for the May/June 2019 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has the best overall result.
Who among them has the best result in the country?
The answer to the question lies only with the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). Since the release of the school exam results on July 25, 2019, state governments, schools and parents have gone out of their way to make their own pick, using candidates with 9As as the best overall WASSCE student in the country.
While announcing the release of the results, the Head of National Office, WAEC Nigeria, Mr Olu Adenipekun, said 1, 590, 173million candidates sat for the school exam and that 1, 020,519million obtained credits and above with a minimum of five subjects, including English Language and Mathematics.
He disclosed that the results of 180,205 candidates, representing 11.33 per cent of the total number of candidates that sat for the examination were withheld in connection with various reported cases of exam malpractice. He stated that cases of exam fraud are being investigated and reports of the findings will be presented to the appropriate committee of the council in due course.
Few days after the release of the results, some states, schools and even parents went to town to declare some students with 9As as the best overall. Their actions generated ripples among stakeholders.
In 2012, Ondo State declared a female candidate as the best overall in WASSCE and awarded her scholarship, including bursary and other allowances provided for Law students. But WAEC debunked the claim and reminded Nigerians that the best overall WASSCE candidate was crowned in Abuja by the council at an elaborate ceremony attended by top government functionaries, Federal Ministry of Education and senior management staff of WAEC.
Some state governments, schools and parents are at it again they have proclaimed the best overall candidates for the 2019 WASSCE. Imo and Plateau states even awarded such students scholarships up to university level, including cash awards. Not to be left out, Online and Bloggers, on daily basis crown such candidates as the best overall in the May/June 2019 WASSCE.
A school proprietor, told The Education Report that it is wrong for states, schools and parents to make such declaration when WAEC has not picked the best candidate: “I wonder why they are in a hurry. It is the sole responsibility of WAEC to declare the best overall student, using their laid down criteria. Those doing so should remember that many candidates also obtained 9As.’’
Proprietor of Top Grade Academy, Ipaja, Lagos, Mr Duro Solanke, said: “It is important for the council to open up on this issue and lay it to rest.”
When approached, Adenipekun said WAEC has not declared any student as the best overall. Shedding more light on the issue, WAEC Head of Public Affairs, Mr Demianus Ojijeogu, said: ‘’WAEC has not crowned any best candidates for May/June 2019 WASSCE.’’ He explained that the exam was conducted among five member-countries: “The award would start with the best three candidates in West Africa before individual national bodies would crown first, second and third best candidates.
“WAEC has not even crowned the 2018 best WASSCE candidates. We are going to present the best three candidates for May/June 2018 WASSCE award in November in Abuja. The 2019 award will be presented in 2020.
‘’The states and schools are acting based in error, there are procedure/criteria for the award. We have over 200 candidates that obtained A1 in all their subjects. A1 has grades and WAEC uses T-score to determine the best three candidates.’’
The image maker reminded states and schools that the 180,205 withheld results of some candidates in the 2019 WASSCE being investigated by the council will also count as some of the students could have better results or emerged as the best when the results are released.
In 1984, the council set up two categories of awards International, to be competed for by candidates in more than one member-country and National, restricted to each member country. According to WAEC award document, to be considered for a distinction award, a candidate must obtain Grade 1 in at least seven subjects, including English Language, Mathematics, one of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and one subject from any of the three sub-categories of core subjects.
In addition, a candidate must obtain a minimum of Grade 6 in at least one subject from each of the core subject sub-categories. Another major condition for the award is that the grades would have been obtained without any hint of impropriety.
The council revealed that two facts have emerged since the award was instituted; that the winners have always been high flyers, whose academic excellence spanned their primary and secondary school education and, who have continued to blaze the trail in the universities in Nigeria, Europe, and America.
The document added that no school or class of schools has the monopoly of producing brilliant candidates as village/community schools have, once in a while, produced award winners.
Proprietor of Royal Academy, Ibadan, Oyo State, Chief Laide Oluwaseun, insisted that only WAEC could declare candidate as the best in May/June WASSCE based on the stated criteria. He wondered why states and schools would engage in illegal activities of declaring some candidates as best overall in the May/June 2019 without official letter from WAEC stating so:
‘’The state governments and the schools involved know better. I am not sure WAEC has crowned the best candidate for 2018. They have jumped the gun and other candidates that recorded the same results are wondering how they arrived at their decision. Some online and newspapers helped to spread the false information.’’