KWAMI ALORVI WRITES: COMMERCIALIZATION OF WASSCE BY TEACHERS AND HEADMASTERS- GES MUST CRACK THE WHIP NOW
On Monday, 17th July 2023, our research team released an article titled “The Upcoming 2023 WASSCE: Another Cocoa Season for Invigilators and their Headmasters?” In that article, three factors we identified for the persistence of the malpractices in the WASSCE and BECE were the commercialization of the examinations by Invigilators and their Headmasters, Inertia by the Education authorities, and failure by WAEC to cancel the papers of cheating students.
We then hinted that, as the 2023 WASSCE approached, _our_ team had already picked up signals of _plans by some_ schools to engage in examination malpractices by collecting money from students to help them cheat in the examinations. Our team has not gone to sleep; rather, we have intensified our surveillance. The grand plans of one SHS in Oti Region have been unearthed, and we bring this to the attention of the GES to act quickly and foil these plans.
TAPAMAN SENIOR HIGH TECHNICAL SCHOOL
On 16th August 2023, we picked an Intel that WASSCE candidates in the Tapaman SHTS in Tapa Abotoase in the Biakoye District of the Oti Region were being asked to pay an amount of two hundred Ghana Cedis (Ghc200) each for Invigilators to assist them in the ongoing WASSCE. Over the weekend, we zoomed our lenses on the school and chanced upon students calling their parents to send them money to pay in order to be assisted in the examination. We then linked up with some parents who have wards in the school and they confirmed the demand by their wards for the Ghc200 for them to be assisted by their teachers. By Sunday, 19th August 2023, the amount had increased to Ghc360 from the initial Ghc200, with a greater proportion being charged for the four core subjects of Mathematics, English Language, Integrated Science and Social Studies.
The candidates were told that the worked-out answers to the questions would be photocopied and given to each of them in the examination room.
When those in charge of collection of the money got to know of the presence of our team on the ground, they quickly got back to the students at the weekend and told them to change the narrative to their parents. Students started calling back their parents to tell them that the money they were demanding was for *”pocket money”* and no longer for the examinations. When some parents hesitated to send the money because they had already given their wards pocket money, the students again changed the narrative and told the parents that the Ghc360 was to cover some practical examinations, special souvenirs, and a party planned for students after their examinations. When did candidates start paying for practical fees under the free SHS policy?
The team sought to find out whether the collection of the money was known to the school management or was at their blind side. The response was that the Headmaster had allegedly signed a Performance Contract with the GES to produce good WASSCE results, hence students must be assisted to pass in order to protect the Headmaster. It thus appears from this response that the collection of the money to teach the students is officially known to the school authorities.
From our investigation, the Tapaman SHTS which was granted a WASSCE Center status in 2020 has been the examination center for the BECE. In the last year BECE, our team learnt teachers were caught writing the answers to the questions on the chalkboard for students to copy in the examination room. Sadly, no teacher has been punished, thanks to the inertia of the GES. This has emboldened the teachers to continue the malpractice.
DANGER TO THE NATION
By these persistent malpractices, the sanctity of the WASSCE is gone, suffering from a terminal paralysis, and lost to malpractices and commercialisation. If we sit down and fail to act, Ghana’s education will sooner than later witness a monumental failure of great proportion. Let us be reminded by a message that greets visitors at the entrance of a South African University which says, “Destroying a nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allow cheating by students.”
The message continues: “Patients die at the hands of such Doctors; buildings collapse at the hands of such Engineers; money is lost at the hands of such Accountants; humanity dies at the hands of such religious leaders; justice is lost at the hands of such judges. The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation.”
I can conveniently say from the above message that our nation Ghana is currently under attack from merciless education terrorists within.
There is an urgent need for officers of the GES, both at its Headquarters and the Oti Regional Directorate, as well as WAEC, to dispatch a monitoring team immediately to the Tapaman SHTS to nib this plan of cheating by invigilators and students in the bud. If this planned cheating is prevented, we believe, the money extorted from the students would be refunded to them, else the school management, if indeed they are involved, would have students demanding their money back.
We also appeal to parents to stop obliging to these demands by their wards for money for these examination malpractices. We again appeal to our teachers to be mindful of their professional code of ethics and act properly while invigilating and supervising these examinations.
The GES and WAEC should extend their surveillance to Oti Senior High Technical School in Dambai in the same Oti Region. The signals we are picking are not different from what we picked from Tapaman SHTS.
Dated: Sunday 20th August, 2023
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