Against its own core values of excellence and integrity in administering the annual exams, the Monrovia National Office of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) is allegedly administering the same exams it claimed were leaked from the Konola SDA Mission near Kakata, Margibi County where they had been stored, the Daily Observer has learned.
Yesterday, this newspaper’s investigation established that the exam papers previously printed and secured in storage at the Konola Mission for the scheduled May and June testing dates were the same being administered this week, although WAEC Monrovia office had begged government for US$300,000 to reprint the test papers due to the alleged leak.
The previous exams were canceled due to what the administration claimed was “an unexpected theft (of copies of each of the nine exam subjects) from the Konola SDA Mission.” The Ministry of Education (MOE) stated that it could not justify administering exams that had been leaked. However, the date on the exam papers being administered remains the same (as shown above). Furthermore no documentation has been made available to authenticate that the Monrovia office had indeed procured, paid for and received the new batch of reprinted test papers from anywhere in the world. Neither could it be substantiated that any changes had been made to the exam questions, which would be the primary action to take for leaked examination papers.
For example, this newspaper obtained a copy of the ‘new’ exam booklet with the cover sheet marked and dated “403 S.H.S. C.E. May 2016” which is the same that appears on the ‘leaked’ exam which was cancelled in May to be reprinted in June 2016.
But WAEC Head of Test Administration, Dele G. Gbotoe, via mobile phone, told our reporter that there was no evidence to indicate that the test was not reprinted, “because we have copies of the second reprinted exams, except that the date remained the same.”
According to Mr. Gbotoe, the date of May 2016 is the exam name for School Candidates, while the month of August every year remains the name for Private Candidate tests. “This is why the exams are coded May 2016, but that does not in any way suggest that the test was not reprinted. You could also contact authorities at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) about what WAEC brought into the country on June 17, 2016, and through which flight,” said Gbotoe.
For the annulled 2014 WAEC due to the Ebola outbreak, Gbotoe said the August 2014 date on the exam materials was maintained. Although the test was administered in January, 2015, it still bore the 2014 date.
On the question of where the exam booklets were printed, Gbotoe explained, “We don’t normally tell people where we print our tests. It is a private accredited international carrier that often brings our test materials into the country.”
However, a highly placed source at the Ministry of Education (MOE) told the Daily Observer yesterday that the Ministry gave WAEC a lump sum of US$247,000 for a reprint of the exams, which it rescheduled for period beginning June 27 to July 1. No explanation was available as to where the balance US$53,000 came from to make up the total amount requested by WAEC for the reprinting.
But the appearance of May 2016 on the exam booklets has left many wondering whether the council actually reprinted the exams and whether any changes had been made to the exam questions to maintain the integrity of the exercise.
Nevertheless, a source within the Ministry informed our reporter that WAEC did not do any reprint of the exams, but rather “divided the US$247,000 among the staff with the administrative staff taking the bigger portion for themselves.”
Public arguments raised questioned the fact that if it is the same exams that are being administered then why postpone the tests and create the notion that the tests had been leaked?
“What is May doing on a test that is being administered in June and, if the documents were reprinted, why was the new date not used?” our source asked. The leakage of the exams speaks to WAEC’s lax attitude in handling the exams, our source added.
It may be recalled that the MOE in collaboration with the head office of WAEC Liberia last month announced the postponement of the exams due to a “leakage” of copies of each of the exam subjects.
The Liberia senior high school certificate examination (LSHSCE) for school candidates was scheduled to be administered from Monday, May 23, 2016 to Friday, May 27, 2016 at 210 centers and 96 depots around the country, a communication from the Ministry of Information announced.
Appearing before the Senate, Education Minister George Werner, in his statement reported that 22 supervisors, along with 1,564 proctors were hired to assist with the monitoring of the examinations to 46,917 candidates. He narrated that unfortunately on the morning of the first day of the exam, the Ministry was informed by the WAEC office in Monrovia that a copy of each of the nine subjects were stolen from the Konola depot.
The Senate therefore mandated its Committee on Education to evaluate Education Minister Werner’s request for US$300,000 to reprint the alleged leaked WAEC test papers for 12th graders. To date, the Senate Education Committee’s evaluation of Werner’s exam reprint cost has not been made available nor has it been confirmed who footed the bill.
Meanwhile, the exams end today with the candidates writing the English and Literature subjects.