WASSCE: FG reads riot act to supervisors, invigilators over exams malpractices
• Says no lowering of standards
The Federal Government, on Wednesday, came hard on supervisors and invigilators of the ongoing West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) over allegations of collusion with candidates to commit massive examination fraud in some centres, warning that anybody caught will be prosecuted.
This warning by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arc Sonny Echono, was coming on the heels of revelation by the Head of National of Office in Nigeria of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), Mr Patrick Areghan, that supervisors and invigilators were adding and abetting perpetration of examination malpractices in the ongoing examination.
Both Echono and Areghan spoke in Abuja during the unscheduled monitoring of the examinations in some centres in Abuja, three weeks into the examination to ascertain the level of compliance to COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.
The schools visited include Federal Government Boys College, Apo, Government Secondary School, Garki, Abuja and a private school, FUNTAJ International Schools.
The Permanent Secretary also disclosed that no case of COVID-19 has so far been recorded in the 104 Federal Government Colleges also known as Unity Schools, saying however that there were reported cases in Gombe, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa States, with remedial measures already activated.
Echono said the Federal Government has adopted zero-tolerance to examination malpractice policy, especially for WAEC and NECO examinations, saying previously attempts were made to get access to the examination question papers before the date of examination and that anybody who does that now is wasting their time, especially with the help of technology deployed in the conduct of examinations.
He said the Federal Ministry of Education was also working in collaboration with security agencies to arrest and prosecute examination fraudsters.
“Whether you are a supervisor, invigilator or candidate, you will face the full wrath of the law. We want to warn us, all the supervisors out there and the students taking this exam that don’t dare us, don’t take a foolish risk, it is wrong and it is prohibited to carry any electronic device into the examination hall, especially your phones.
“Anybody who is caught with it, there should be no excuse and you will have your result cancel and prosecuted in the court of law.
“We are also eliminating anything called “miracle centre”. COVID-19 has helped because with the reduction in number, the physical cheating where candidates are so cramped up that they can have access to each other’s script or too many that one of the supervisors could not effectively cover.
“So, in terms of the integrity of exams, this is higher level than it had been in the previous examinations,” he said.
The WAEC Head of National Office, Mr Areghan, had dismissed media reports of leaked examination question papers, saying what happened was outright collusion between the supervisors and the candidates, where as soon as questions papers were distributed to candidates in the examination hall, it would be screenshot and send to designated WhatsApp lines.
He insisted that there shall be no lowering of standards for those complaining that the students had no adequate time to prepare for the examination because of COVID-19 lockdown, saying the examination was supposed to take place from the 6th of April to the 5th of June, 2020 but it was postponed because of COVID-19 pandemic, about extra five months to prepare for the examination.
He said: “The invigilators and supervisors are our problems. They are supposed to be on our side but because of some ulterior motive, they take side with the candidates. We said no candidate should come in with their handsets but they close their eyes and allow them to come in with them.
“This is what they use to snap the questions and post them on designated WhatsApp lines. Not that there is any leakage. Please, Press should stop making use of that word leakage. The exam is going on now what a mischievous supervisor would do is to snap it and send to designated numbers.
“We are less than 2000 as WAEC staff to over 19229 examination centres, we can’t cover everywhere. We rely on the teachers nominated from the various ministries of education to supervise these examinations.
“They are supposed to be men and women of integrity; I am not saying supervisors are bad. We have arrested some and today is going to be a harvest of arrest. In Bauchi, we arrested a supervisor and in Nasarawa, in Port Harcourt, we arrested a candidate.”
On the issue of candidates who tested positive to COVID-19, the Permanent Secretary explained that the States’ COVID-19 response teams and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have been mobilised to address the incidents which WAEC has explained that the affected candidates were those who ran the test before resumption and their results were made available to them while already in school.
He said: “A lot them came from home naturally. We would have been more placed if we were able to test every student before allowing them. This was not feasible but we did the bit we could to see them to the degree of compliance; strict measures were enforced as you have seen in our Unity Schools.
“I deliberately chose today for this monitoring because they are taking English Language and being a compulsory subject all the students are taking it. I wanted to see what the situation would be like maximum capacity.
“You can see they are following everything strictly, the social distancing, spacing the number of people per class. There is always the general tendency to lower your guard weeks into an exercise and I wanted to capture whether the enthusiasm of the first few days of ensuring strict compliance is being sustained,” he said.
It was observed that every candidate did not only wear the face mask but have a sanitiser placed on their desk, while the supervisors and invigilators all maintained strict compliance with the guidelines.