By Gabriel Dike
The West African Examinations Council on Tuesday revealed that 1, 573, 789 million candidates will write the May/June 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), beginning on Monday next week.
WAEC also read the riot act to schools and candidates to avoid examination malpractice. It also accused schools of shopping for external candidates which is against the rules and regulations guiding the exam.
Head of the National Office of WAEC, Mr. Patrick Areghan, who disclosed this, said the school exam will start from Monday, August 16 to Friday, September 30.
Areghan announced that from 2022 candidates wishing to write May/June WASSCE will produce his/her NIN registration number.
The HNO used the occasion to launch Request Management System and WAEC-CHATBOT, designed to address the immediate needs of its stakeholders.
Said he: ”In accordance with the final international timetable, the WASSCE 2021 will take place throughout the sub-region from Monday, August 16th, to Friday, October 8th, 2021. However, the examination will end in Nigeria on September 30th, 2021 – spanning a period of seven weeks.
”The statistics for the examination shows that 19,425 recognized secondary schools, comprising 8.052 public and 11,373 private schools, spread across the nooks and crannies of the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja would be presenting 1,573,789 candidates, comprising 792,620 males (50.36%) and 781,169 females (49.64%), for the examination.”
The HNO said candidates would be examined in 76 subjects, made up of 197 papers and that about 25,000 senior teachers would be participating in the examination as supervisors.
He gave reasons for the school exam holding in August instead of May/June to include the COVID-19 pandemic that caused a disruption and distortion of the academic calendar in the West African Sub-region, ”the final international timetable was drawn in such a way as to cater for the interests of all the five-member countries.”
Other reason are that timetable was specifically drawn to align with Nigeria’s emergency academic calendar and also in deference to the specific request made by the Federal Ministry of Education.
According to him, the school examination will be conducted under a rather hostile environment, in view of the resurgent COVID-19 pandemic (3rd wave) and the un-abating security challenges in some parts of the country.
”As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to ravage the world. Therefore, in conducting the examination, we are once again going to religiously adhere to all the prescribed COVID-19 protocols. All examination functionaries have been adequately briefed to ensure compliance.”
Areghan disclosed that schools have been mandated to provide hand sanitizers, running-water buckets and detergent/soap at designated points at all examination centres. He said WAEC supervisors, candidates, invigilators, staff and other examination functionaries would wear their face masks and wash/sanitize their hands regularly in the course of their duties.
”Schools will also provide and operate the thermometer hand-gun on all candidates and examination functionaries at the entrance to the school premises. It is necessary to state here that we are effectively liaising with the various Ministries of Health at the Federal and State levels for their necessary support.
”We shall ensure that physical and social distancing is maintained by all and sundry. This also means that more personnel and facilities will be required for the conduct of the examination, with the attendant consequences,” he noted.
On security and insecurity, the HNO said the council have liaised with the relevant security agencies ”as this is purely within their purview. Moreover, we are trusting God, as usual, for His divine intervention.”
The HNO warned schools, candidates, supervisors, invigilators, principals and proprietors of schools, and examination functionaries, to desist from all acts of examination malpractice.
He added: ”All rogue-website operators are hereby seriously warned to desist from their nefarious acts. They should be patriotic citizens and stop giving WAEC a bad name. It is only lazy schools and candidates that resort to examinations malpractice. Any one caught conniving with rogue-website operators or patronizing them will be seriously dealt with. Security agencies are closely monitoring them and their activities.
”Schools and candidates should not allow themselves to be deceived by these fake people and destiny destroyers. Good preparation and self-reliance are the sure keys to success.
We are also closely watching out for the so-called ‘Special’ or ‘Miracle’ centres. These are not coinages by WAEC.
”They exist only in the imaginations of the perpetrators and patronizers. Even though we cannot claim to be oblivious of such a scenario, they are centres where candidates are promised assistance for cheap grades by ‘examination contractors’. We will definitely not allow them. No matter how remotely located they are, our in-built anti-malpractice mechanism will fish them out. It will not be wise to spend a whole six years preparing for the examination, only to end up not getting any result. So please, be warned.”
Areghan announced that National Identification Number (NIN) will become a major requirement for registration for the WASSCE examination with effect from the May/June 2022 WASSCE and subsequent diets, stressing ”no NIN, no entry.”
He said the implication is that prospective candidates must register with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and get their NIN. The HNO said the decision is in line with the Federal Government’s policy, as directed by the Federal Ministry of Education.