Danquah Institute and IMANI urge GES not to break WAEC monopoly

Danquah Institute and IMANI kick against breaching the West African Examinations Council’s sole control over setting exams in the state-run further education system

Two of Ghana’s leading think tanks – the Danquah Institute and IMANI Centre for Policy and Education – have kicked against calls to break the monopoly of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

The two think tanks, represented by Richard Ahiagbah (executive director of the Danquah Institute) and Franklin Cudjoe (president of IMANI), were sharing their views on Wednesday evening of whether it is high time Ghana established her own exams authority.

They were in conversation with the host of Asaase Radio’s talk show Think Tank, Karen Dodoo.

Critical independence

Ahiagbah argued that it would be out of place to begin a conversation about establishing another examinations body simply because of recent leaks of papers.

WAEC is working well, he said, apart from one respect – the problem with leaks. It is not as if the whole institution is dysfunctional and ineffective, he argued: the syllabus is fine but the management of exams is problematic.

“I think the issue about WAEC’s independence is key,” Ahiagbah said. “[Exam boards] are just about as independent as you can have it because they are not controlled by anybody or any third party.

“If you disassociate yourself from WAEC you create suspicion … and [even] if your students are distinction [material], all across the country people begin to look at them with suspicion.”

He urged stakeholders to bring constructive pressure to bear on WAEC management to ensure that they chart the right path in executing its mandate.

Cheating the odds

The executive director of the IMANI Centre for Policy and Education, Franklin Cudjoe, also spoke on the same programme. He said he believed the deployment of current innovation in terms of information communications technology can help curb the menace of cheating in exams.

“I am looking at a mixed approach, given that Ghana is not well endowed in terms of technology. And that is where technology comes into play, because it’s been proven that you can sit in the same exams and have different questions appearing in a different order,” he said.

“Whether it is sub-regionally controlled or not, the question really is: how do we solve this problem? If we decide to dissociate ourselves from the body, I don’t see how that cures the issue of corruption,” he said.

He worried that the politicisation of Ghana’s policy on senior high school could be another cause of slow development.

Established in 1952, WAEC is responsible, among other things, for conducting examinations in the public interest in English-speaking West Africa and awarding certificates, provided that the certificates do not represent lower standards of attainment than equivalent certificates of examining authorities in the United Kingdom.

Fred Dzakpata

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

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