WAEC Blames Exam Fraud on ‘Weak Legislation’

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Authorities at the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) Monrovia Office said the rampant examination fraud in Liberia is due to “weak legislation.”

Mr. John Y. Gayvolor, head of the Monrovia WAEC Office, made the assertion over the weekend during a daylong National Stakeholders’ Dialogue on Examination Malpractice.

He said punishment legislated for those guilty of examination malpractices such as a fine of at least L$1,500 or a jail term of, say, two years, were not enough to serve as deterrents for persons who have committed academic crime against the state.

Mr. Gayvolor proposed stronger legislation on examination malpractice to deter would be violators and also called on members of the National Legislature to revisit the law to improve on its quality.

Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Romelle A. Horton, who is government’s chief nominee and vice chair of the Council, also contended that examination malpractice breeds corruption and stalls development. She presented a discourse on the theme,

“Examination Malpractice in Liberia: Is This a Catalyst of Corruption?”

She said examination malpractice as well as other forms of academic cheating is not only peculiar to the Liberian education system.

“In fact, academic dishonesty as a whole has been reported in literature as constituting an issue of great global concern that researchers in both developed and developing countries have tirelessly proffered suggestions on how to combat it,” Dr. Horton said.

According to her, recent studies have reported that academic dishonesty has become a distressing concern across university campuses in other parts of the world including the United States to the extent that the act is reportedly running out of control, especially in some Asian countries, including China.

Dr. Horton then called on education stakeholders to join the fight against examination fraud in support of the reform process of Liberia’s education sector.

The Superintendent of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS), Adolphus Benjamin Jacobs, who presented a paper on the “Strategies for Curbing Examination Malpractice,” defines the act as a deliberate wrongdoing contrary to official examination rules designed to place a candidate at an unfair advantage or to “disadvantage” other candidates.

However, to curb the act, he said WAEC should collaborate with authorities at the Ministry of Education (MOE) to put in place effective academic leadership and properly vet, hire, and suitably pay qualified and experienced school administrators.

He believes that proper curriculum and innovation; practical lesson plans; student centered instruction; proper time and classroom management, etc., should be put in place and monitored by stakeholders, with the cooperation of the parents.

Other speakers made similar observations, and put forward other suggestions aimed at curbing malpractices in the administration of future exams.

For example, James Andrew Lablah, Director of Quality Assurance at the National Commission on Higher Education, said the appalling academic performance of most students and graduates of Liberian institutions owing to examination malpractice is becoming so alarming that the achievement of the set goals of education for national development is endangered.

He said examination malpractice, although not unique to Liberia, is one of the common social ills threatening the education sector. “It is widely perceived that examination malpractice is thriving even in the nursery and primary schools where one would have thought that the children are young and innocent. When malpractice in examination occurs, people no longer submit to rules that guide learning and conduct of examinations. This therefore becomes a serious fraud in the education system,” he said.

“Education brings about development of character and contributes meaningfully to the society because it is one of the most effective instruments that transform the totality of the individual into a productive citizen. This is because the individual is not only expected to be found worthy in character but also in learning.”

He spoke on the topic, “The Impact of Examination Malpractices in National Development.”

WAEC, Mr. Gayvolor said, was previously known in the country as Liberia National Examinations, which administered annual exams to 6th, 9th and 12th grades. But in 1952, WAEC through an ordinance, changed and also diversified the tests from four subjects to at least nine.

“WAEC is an examination board that conducts the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), a University entry examination in West African countries. Established in 1952, the council has contributed to education in Anglophonic countries of West Africa including Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia, with the number of examinations they have coordinated, and certificates they have issued. WASSCE also established an endowment fund to contribute to education in West Africa through lectures, and aid to those who cannot afford an education,” Mr. Gayvolor noted.

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