…How some High School authorities assist students to cheat in the WASSCE
A Corruption Watch investigation has uncovered grand schemes existing in some second cycle institutions for assisting candidates to cheat in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The investigation, conducted in the Ashanti and Bono regions of Ghana before and during the conduct of the 2021 WASSCE for School Candidates, reveals that some schools have instituted special levies which they charge students in return for help to solve examination questions.
Corruption Watch discovered at All For Christ Senior High/Technical School and Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School, both in the Bono Region, that the said levies are put in a pool and used to compromise teachers and invigilators to solve questions for students in the examination hall.
All For Christ Senior High/Technical School also charged special fees to award unearned continuous assessment marks to unqualified persons whom they register as school candidates to allow them to retake the WASSCE.
Agnes Norkor Teye-Cudjoe, head of Public Affairs at the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), disclosed to Corruption Watch that at the All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, WAEC’s “investigative team that was on the ground” detected and reported some incidents of malpractice. “So we have reports on malpractices that occurred at All for Christ,” she said.
In a two-page letter to Corruption Watch, Mr Owusu Gyaase, the Headmaster of All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, denied that the school charged fees for continuous assessment marks or engaged in examination malpractice.
On the other hand, Mr. Peterson Aning, the headmaster of Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School, did not offer a response to our findings in spite of indicating in a phone call that he would do so.
The investigation shows that school authorities, teachers, parents and security officials are all complicit in the school-based schemes that allow students to cheat at examination halls.
In addition, the content of some secretly recorded audio-visual materials indicates the involvement of some unidentified top officials of WAEC who allegedly help school authorities to perpetrate malpractices as well as escape sanctions.
In July 2021, Corruption Watch received tip offs about the intention of some schools and individuals to perpetrate examination malpractice during the 2021 WASSCE.
Consequently, in September, this reporter set out to investigate the potential examination malpractices, paying special attention to orchestrated efforts by some school authorities to assist candidates to cheat at examination halls.
I also focused on the role of racketeers in the leakage of some question papers.
Before the 2021 WASSCE, there were clear indications that malpractices were going to move a notch higher as some school authorities were prepared to facilitate examination malpractices in their schools.
In the course of the examination, WAEC confirmed that it was aware of some of the school-based schemes. George Ohene Mantey, head of the Test Administration Division of WAEC, revealed that “The following schools in respect of which tip offs were received on intents to cheat are being closely monitored for evidence to validate the claims.
“The schools are: Ejisu Senior High Technical School located at Ejisu, Anlo-Afiadenyigba Senior High School at Afiadenyigba, Tepa Senior High School at Tepa, Yeji Senior High Technical School at Yeji, King David College at Somanya, Ideal College, Sunyani, Christ the King Senior High School, Obuasi, Modern Senior High School, Kpong and another Modern Senior High School at Kintampo, Oyoko Methodist Senior High School, Klo Agogo Senior High School.”
By the time WAEC put out the list of the eleven (11) schools, which were allegedly planning to cheat, Corruption Watch was already monitoring the conduct of the examinations in four other schools, which WAEC did not include in their list, across the Ashanti and Bono regions.
However, it was in the Bono Region where our cameras and audio devices captured moments in two schools where some authorities assisted students to cheat in examination halls.
Corruption Watch discovered syndicated schemes for cheating before and during the WASSCE at All For Christ Senior High/Technical School and Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School. The schools are located about 90 kilometers apart but they employed similar strategies to assist their candidates to cheat, especially during the conduct of core subjects.
All For Christ Senior High/Technical School is a popular private second cycle institution located at Kato, a suburb of Berekum, whereas Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School is a state-funded institution located at Duadaso Number 1, a cashew growing community near Sampa.
Pre-exams arrangement for cheating
Regarding pre-WASSCE arrangements for cheating, our investigations revealed both schools admitted students who should otherwise register as private candidates for a fee.
In the case of All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, authorities charge the students about two hundred and fifty Ghana cedis (GHC250) in return for unearned continuous assessment marks in order to process them as school candidates for WASSCE.
For the purpose of this investigation, a Corruption Watch agent called the Headmaster of All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, Mr Owusu Gyaase to enquire about the conditions for admission into third year. This was what transpired.
Corruption Watch (CW): I want to make enquiries about writing…
Owusu Gyaase (OG): …the WASSCE?
CW: Yes, please.
OG: Alright! Initially, when you come here you pay for continuous assessment, which is two-point-five.
CW: Continuous assessment?
OG: Aaahh! Which is two-point-five.
CW: As in two hundred and fifty cedis?
OG: Yes. Are you going to be a day [student] or boarder?
CW: …the issue is I’m working.
OG: …sign for day [student]. The day school fee is four-point-one (four hundred and ten cedis), boarding is five-point-one (five hundred and ten cedis).
CW: And then the main reason why I am interested is that I’ve written my [core] math several times and it’s still not working.
OG: Here, it is going to be a last stop for you.
CW: Oh okay. I’m praying so.
OG: You know the continuous assessment helps the student to pass. Every exam you take is marked over 70 (percent); 30 percent is in the school. And for this thirty (30) percent…the lowest mark we arrange is twenty-five (25) over thirty (30). Twenty-seven (27), twenty-eight (28), twenty-nine (29) could be your classwork. We use the big numbers for the difficult subjects. And, as you are a day student, you only buy the school uniform; when it is time for you to write the WASSCE then you put it on.
CW: Do I need to always come for classes because it’ll be difficult [for me] to get permission from my boss.
OG: You beg your boss, come down here and sign. One day will do. Then when it is the time for writing the WASSCE then you come in.
CW: So, Mr Owusu, please are you the headmaster?
OG: I’m the headmaster.
At the Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School, popularly known as Duhigh, some school authorities laid the foundation for assisting students to cheat at the beginning of the academic year.
By February 2021, these school authorities had directed that final year students should pay a sum of three hundred Ghana cedis (GHC300).
Corruption Watch intercepted copies of bank pay-in slips, indicating that the students paid a sum of three hundred Ghana cedis (GHC300) into an account that the school has with the Duadaso Number 1 agency of the Brong Ahafo Catholic Co-Operative Society for Development (BACCSOD Limited).
Another pay-in slip in the possession of Corruption Watch indicates that a separate category of students paid two thousand four hundred Ghana cedis (GHC2400) into the same account that the school holds with BACCSOD Limited.
In addition, a receipt in possession of Corruption Watch shows the payment of two thousand six hundred (GHC2600) directly to the school’s account office.
Corruption Watch sources say the payment of the two thousand four hundred Ghana cedis (GHC2400) and two thousand six hundred (GHC2600) were by students that the school admitted into third year for a fee without the approval of the Ghana Education Service (GES).
To confirm the allegation of unapproved admissions to year three, a Corruption Watch agent called a number advertised on the Facebook page of Duhigh. We found out that the number belongs to Emmanuel Peh, the senior housemaster of the school. Emmanuel Peh spelled out the terms and conditions for midstream admissions when our agent called to feign interest in securing admission to the school. He told our potential student to prepare to pay about three thousand cedis (GHC3,000), inclusive of hostel fees.
Corruption Watch (CW): I am a worker but I want to…further my education. So, I decided to contact you to find out how you can help me join the school and then I want to know if I can join, like, as a third-year student.
Emmanuel Peh (EP): Yeah…it may be possible but as at now…I can’t give you hundred percent answer that yes! Now what I’ll do is that you call me back somewhere in January .
EP: Registration will start somewhere January-February thereabout. So, what you need to do is that, which course please?
CW: Oh, I want to do my [core] math and [core] science. Sorry, I’m a General Arts student, actually.
EP: You know you can’t do just two subjects. All you need to do is that you register as a candidate. You know school candidates you can’t register some courses…
CW: …yeah, sure. I will do everything. No problem.
EP: So, you register everything.
EP: And when the time is due, maybe, if you are able to….we are very sure that you’ll pass everything correctly.
CW: Okay. So…
EP: …so you be preparing…around three thousand Ghana (GHC3,000)…
CW: Three thousand cedis (GHC3,000)?
EP: Yes. Last year or this year they paid two thousand six hundred (GHC2,600).
CW: Okay. So plus, or minus three thousand?
CW: Okay, that’s fine. So, would I need to buy uniforms or it’s all part of the three thousand [cedis] I should be preparing?
EP: If it becomes possible that you can be registered here, everything is inclusive. The uniform is part of it.
CW: Okay. Alright. And would I buy books or…?
EP: Yes. For that one…for sure you’ll have to buy. You have to buy. What we’ll be giving you is, maybe, the uniform; and that one…we’ll give you only one because what I’ve seen is that you’ll not be a regular student.
EP: You just wait when the exams, the date is about a week’s time, then you come and then join your colleagues.
CW: Please sir, your name?
EP: My name is Emmanuel.
EP: Yes. I’m the senior housemaster.
In view of Senior House Master, Emmanuel Peh’s request that the Corruption Watch undercover agent should follow up in January/February 2022 for possible admission to the school, we made four calls to his phone in February 2022 but none of the calls was answered.
Blow by blow account of in-hall examination malpractice
The first core papers that candidates wrote were English Language 2 (Essay) and 1 (Objective) Papers, which were written on Monday September 13, 2021. We captured some authorities of both All For Christ Senior High/Technical School and Duhigh assisting candidates to answer questions.
In-hall Examination malpractice at Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School
At Duhigh, candidates paid an unspecified amount of money before the start of the papers.
A female student was assigned the responsibility of collecting the unspecified amount of money before the start of the English Language Paper 2 at eight-thirty (8:30) A.M.
In return, candidates were allowed to share ideas. Moreover, teachers and invigilators assisted the candidates to answer questions in the comprehension and summary sections of English Language Paper 2.
There was prior information to students that they had to make arrangements on their own for the essay section of the English Language Paper 2. This was the school’s strategy for avoiding the detection of mass cheating.
However, a female student did not follow instructions to hand over all extraneous materials after usage. She consequently implicated Maxwell Armah, a science tutor of the school, as the source of the material.
There was more help when the candidates sat for the English language paper 1. Their invigilator was generous once more. In this instance, he dictated to the candidates the answers for the questions in Paper 1 or objective paper. He started with the first 30 questions.
In-hall Examination malpractice at All For Christ Senior High/Technical School
Back at the All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, our team established that the authorities in question set up several platforms on social media through which they circulated solutions to examination questions.
This enabled invigilators to pass answers to the examination questions to candidates while examinations were in progress.
The biggest of these cheating platforms set up by the school for invigilators is a WhatsApp page known as “The integrity vibes.”
This page had over eighty (80) participants, including this Corruption Watch investigator.
They also used the page to inform invigilators about news and alerts from WAEC and other organisations such as the Africa Education Watch.
On Wednesday, September 15, 2021, participants on the page took keen interest in the WAEC update that announced the rescheduling of papers of two courses and the listing of eleven schools for close monitoring.
Later that day, one participant shared a voice note that discouraged teachers and students from answering questions posed by journalists who come probing into malpractices.
The male speaker in the voice note said “If you are being asked, tell them you have no idea.
“Did the paper leak? You don’t know.
“All I want you to do now is just keep quiet because the more you talk, the more you make the issue worse,” the unidentified person said.
All For Christ Senior High/Technical School administrator, Mr Atta Agyemang, coordinated all activities put in place to assist students in examination halls. He also held several meetings with invigilators to explain the school’s arrangement for assisting the candidates without being detected by WAEC’s external supervisors.
Agyemang held one of his most important meetings with invigilators at the assembly hall of the school. It started at about seven-twenty (7:20) A.M. on the morning of Monday, September 20, 2021 before the commencement of General (Core) Mathematics Papers 2 and 1.
He had wanted to hold this meeting in the afternoon of the previous day.
One of the reasons for the meeting was that he had lost his phone and did not want his social media conversations, including content on “The integrity vibes” page to fall into wrong hands.
He told invigilators that WAEC supervisors from the national level were likely to visit the school, hence the need to be careful. He said that following the loss of his phone, he travelled to Kumasi that weekend to meet his WAEC contacts. However, he could not reach the big men in Accra.
“The national people [officials] from WAEC are coming.
“But my phone was stolen last Friday and because of that it’s been hectic for me to reach those people. So the big men out there, I’m not getting them.
“In any case, I’ve done my part.
“Because of the phone, I had to travel from here to Kumasi to meet…
“What we will do is that we’ll move…ahead of them.
“So please, I beg, let’s try as much as possible to protect ourselves first, especially the mobile phone,” he told the invigilators.
After the morning briefing, the team of invigilators, led by Mr Atta Agyemang and a supervisor, together with nine assistant supervisors, swung into action.
The work of Mr Atta Agyemang and his team was clearly cut out for them by the time the General (Core) Mathematics Paper 2 commenced at eight-thirty (8:30) in the morning.
The two-and-a-half-hour paper was scheduled to end at eleven o’clock in the morning.
And as per the cheating scheme devised by the school, subject teachers were on standby to answer the examination questions for candidates.
Between eight fifty-four (8:54) and ten thirty-seven (10:37), Mr Atta Agyemang circulated the answers to the examination questions onto “The integrity vibes” WhatsApp page for invigilators to transmit same to the candidates.
Our cameras captured various invigilators as they wrote the answers to the questions on white boards for students to copy.
Other invigilators, who could not access the answers through the WhatsApp page, were seen going to other examination halls to take snapshots.
Later that day, some participants on “The integrity vibes” WhatsApp page exited in line with communication that the page would be collapsed because of the loss of the mobile phone belonging to Mr Atta Agyemang. Those who failed to exit the page voluntarily were removed in line with Mr. Atta Agyeman’s instructions.
Administrators later formed a new general page, which had less than fifty (50) participants. They called it “Ja Bless.”
The failure of many invigilators to get onto the “Ja Bless” infuriated Mr Atta Agyemang.
Thus, he interpreted it as unwillingness to cooperate with him to advance the interest of the school.
In the ten days that followed the writing of the General Mathematics papers, candidates of All For Christ Senior High/Technical School sat for papers in four elective subjects.
These were Government, Economics, Christian Religious Studies and Geography. During these papers, the trend continued; answers to questions were shared on the newly created “Ja Bless” platform for invigilators to transmit to candidates.
However, a couple of times, external supervisors and security operatives other than the assigned police officer busted some invigilators for in-hall examination malpractice. As Agyemang revealed in another meeting with invigilators, he was able to intervene for the release of these officers. However, he threatened to sacrifice whoever would carelessly allow themselves to be caught subsequently.
“I have seen those of you whose aim is to destroy the school. Yesterday, that boy [he points at him] was very lucky. I would’ve allowed them to take him away but I intervened in order to save the school from being publicly shamed,” Agyemang said.
“…We have nine assistant supervisors with one assigned to each block. How come nobody saw that the man was coming?
“What he told me when I went to him yesterday shows that it was our own fault… He said that if they see something they can’t ignore it because they’ve sworn an oath…so we should talk to you people,” he added.
He quizzed: “Do you think the WAEC officials are going to look on for us to do things our way just because we’ve spoken to them? And so what? If it were you, you wouldn’t do that because now their integrity is at stake.
“Just imagine the things that are being said about them.”
He warned that “…Look, I’m not telling you, but I’m warning you; if you are caught, I’ll let them use you as a scapegoat. Just wait and see.”
As the situation became dire, the proprietor of the All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, Apostle Emmanuel Joo Yankyera stepped in to have a meeting with teachers and invigilators in the staff common room on September 22, 2021. He told them to be careful because news about their activities was all over in town.
“What I have now heard is that some people are taking money to assign candidates to a special room. All this information is going out,” he disclosed.
He said “The WAEC officials are on my case; therefore, I am being watchful. So, be careful.
“These students have been responsive to all your demands. They pay the motivation fees. And when they sit for a paper, they pay twenty (20) cedis.”
Corruption Watch wrote to the headmasters of All For Christ Senior High/Technical School and Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School for their respective explanation of the occurrences surrounding the conduct of the 2021 WASSCE in their schools.
‘No record of engaging in examination malpractices’ – All For Christ headmaster
We received successive phone calls from the administrator of All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, Mr Atta Agyemang and the proprietor of the same school, Apostle Emmanuel Joo Yankyera. Both pleaded with Corruption Watch to consider the welfare of students when putting out this investigative work.
Subsequently, on Monday, November 8, 2021, Corruption Watch received the school’s official response, contained in a letter signed by the Headmaster of All For Christ Senior High/Technical School, Mr Owusu Gyaase.
The two-page letter said in part that the school authorities needed time to carry out their own investigations into the allegations. On the other hand, the school partly denied that they charged fees for continuous assessment marks.
Here are excerpts of the letter.
“Sir, I was very shocked to receive the letter with the information contained therein. As the headmaster of the school, I can only firmly assure you that I will carry out my own investigations into the issues raised to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the allegations.
“Sir, on the issue of unqualified students who should otherwise have to write as private candidates, I can confidently say that, I was misrepresented by your reporter but I don’t blame him because time did not allow me to give adequate explanation to him on the matter. Indeed, charges for admission fee include a component for assessment through quizzes, class test, class exercises, assignments, mock and end of term examinations for students who are admitted into the second year class to be able to get adequate continuous assessment scores which is part of the scoring for the examination and if you work hard you can get 25 or all the 30 marks allotted for continuous assessment. I was not in any way suggesting to him that as soon as you are admitted you get 25 or 30 as continuous assessment.
“On the issue of the administrator coordinating all activities put in place to assist students cheat in examinations, I would indeed appreciate, if you could provide us with additional information in order to carry out a thorough investigation to unravel the allegation.
“On the issues of invigilators taking money, writing on chalkboard, dictating answers and distributing photocopied materials…Indeed, the school does not have any record of engaging in examination malpractices.
“Sir, my request for additional information from you to enable us to carry out an investigation does not suggest, in any way, that the work you did was not credible,” the letter concluded.
‘I will investigate’ – Duhigh headmaster
The headmaster of Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School, Mr. Peterson Aning, upon receiving a letter from Corruption Watch, called back on Wednesday, November 3, 2021 to indicate that he would investigate the alleged incidents, put together a response and forward it to Corruption Watch. In spite of five follow-up calls, Mr. Peterson Aning did not fulfil his promise. Later, on Monday, November 22, 2021, assistant headmaster in charge of academic affairs, Abdellah Umar, informed Corruption Watch that the headmaster was ill and would respond when he recovers.
Mr. Aning still did not answer back to Corruption Watch despite giving another assurance on Wednesday, March 16 2022 that he will send in the response of the school by close of day on Monday, March 21, 2022.
On October 20, 2021, Corruption Watch contacted both the Ghana Education Service (GES) and WAEC about the findings of this investigation.
Ghana Education Service declines interview
The GES did not respond to us initially despite at least four follow up phone calls.
Eventually, the request for interview on matters of policy, which Corruption Watch submitted to the GES on October 20, 2021 was referred to the GES’ Deputy Director-General (Management Services) on February 8, 2022 after a discussion with the Director of Legal Unit at GES, Mrs Cynthia Storph-Tagoe.
Subsequently, on Thursday, February 10, 2022, this investigator, in the company of a colleague, met with Lawyer Anthony Boateng, GES Deputy Director-General (Management Services). He was in the company of Mrs Storph-Tagoe and one other female official who did not introduce herself.
Lawyer Boateng declined to give an interview unless he was allowed to review all the evidence that Corruption Watch collected from the field.
We in turn declined his request as a matter of policy.
In the case of WAEC, Corruption Watch submitted a second letter at the request of the Council on November 15, 2021.
Subsequently, on December 6, 2021, the head of Public Affairs at WAEC, Agnes Norkor Teye-Cudjoe gave an interview to Corruption Watch. She corroborated Corruption Watch’s findings against All For Christ Senior High/Technical School.
“With All for Christ, I think that our investigative team that was on the ground, even they were at the Centre and they reported some incidents of malpractice.
“So we have reports on malpractices that occurred at All for Christ.
With Duadaso I don’t have anything in front of me now but I believe that anything that may have come up during the marking; we have a process that we call ‘scrutiny of scripts’ so if anything came up during marking then the scripts would be scrutinized and the appropriate sanctions applied after all investigations have been completed,” Teye-Cudjoe stated.
She added that “I think the report that we received from our team on the ground indicated that there were cases of institutionalized examination malpractice in the school and some candidates who had mobile phones on them and all that.”
A prevalent phenomenon
WAEC confirms that more schools than All For Christ Senior High/Technical School and Duadaso Number 1 Senior High/Technical School had some school authorities assisting some candidates to perpetrate examination malpractice during the 2021 WASSCE for school candidates.
Available data shows that some candidates have been engaging in examination malpractices over the years. For instance, in 2018, WAEC withheld the entire results of 26,434 candidates due to various cases of examination malpractices detected during and after the conduct of the 2018 WASSCE for school candidates.
In 2019, WAEC further withheld the entire results of 48,855 candidates whereas in 2020 the Council cancelled subject results of 2,383 candidates for engaging in collusion, bringing foreign materials to the examination hall, and tearing part of their question papers to solicit assistance.
Teye-Cudjoe disclosed to Corruption Watch that over the period 2018-2020, the rate of results cancellation has risen as high as two-point-five (2.5) percent.
“We can speak of malpractices from, maybe, 2018 to 2020 because we have statistics, everything has been done, we have the statistics on that.
“[In] 2018, out of the total number of candidates who sat for the exam, we had 0.88 percent of the candidates whose results were cancelled or who engaged in malpractice.
“2019 was 2.58 percent and 2020 [was] 1.84 [percent],” she disclosed.
The Africa Education Watch monitored the 2021 WASSCE in about 50 schools at the same time that Corruption Watch undertook this investigation. The executive director of Africa Education Watch, Mr. Kofi Asare is of the view that examination malpractice has actually evolved into a whole business industry.
“There’s evidence of institutionalized cheating…, which is a grand collusion between students on one part, invigilators, external supervisors, security officials and school authorities to cheat.
“That is why examination malpractice today is a big issue in the quality of pre-tertiary assessment in Ghana.
“But let me indicate that…we have reached the point where we have an industry that has emerged from the security breaches in WAEC’s questions supply chain.
“And this multi-million [cedi] industry, according to WAEC themselves, has now become a fraudulent business which is growing with the aid of internet and social media and mobile phone penetration in our society.
“So we’ve moved from examination malpractice to examination fraud involving stakeholders and actors both in and around the school environment and outside the school environment. So, the driver is actually profit, not just delinquency,” he suggested.
Questions on sale
As alluded to earlier, the other aspect of this Corruption Watch investigation was to probe the operation of racketeers who made question papers available to students on social media platforms several hours before examinations took place.
In this leg of the investigation, which was not school-based, we identified and signed onto three platforms on the Telegram app. These were “Legit WASSCE,” which had over sixty-seven thousand subscribers, “Grandmaster” (now known as Social Zone Gh) with more than one thousand five hundred patrons and “Hot Stage” with more than eighteen thousand subscribers.
We found that anyone could join these groups free of charge through a link. On these pages, they advertised VIP services. This was mainly for buying question papers of upcoming subjects well in advance. Failure to pay means receiving questions free of charge on the open platforms, but usually one hour or less before the writing of that paper.
In the case of English Language, Corruption Watch undercover agents paid a total of one hundred and forty cedis to the “Hot Stage Wassce” platform through one Peter Akotia on 0240261277 and one hundred cedis to the “WASSCE VIP 2021” page through one Albert Ofosu Wiafe on 0550393900.
The said Peter Akotia’s “Hot Stage Wassce” posted the purported questions for the English Paper by 12:34am on Monday, September 13, 2021. This was about eight clear hours before the start of the English Paper 2 at 8:30 that same morning.
Two days later, WAEC confirmed that some of the questions circulated for English Language Paper 2 were the actual questions.
According to George Ohene Mantey of the Test Administration Division of WAEC, “The activities of social media cartels, that is, rogue websites, WhatsApp/Telegram groups are in full force with several versions of the questions being circulated on social media platforms.
“Some of the groups are Ruth, Jerusalema, Eminent Link, Mr. Robert, Success Room, Mr. IUPAC, Brotherhood and WAEC Secret Helper,” he mentioned.
He said “The ‘cheating’ social media groups were in full swing prior to the conduct of the Mathematics (Elective) and English Language Papers on 9th and 13th September, 2021 respectively.
“The Council’s monitoring revealed the circulation of numerous versions of questions, both printed and handwritten on most of the groups referred to earlier.
“After the administration of the tests, careful scrutiny of the several versions received, indicates extracts of parts of the questions for Mathematics (Elective) 2 and Section ‘A’ of English Language 2 were circulated on some social media platforms.
“Reports from initial investigations and further information received indicate that the circulation was not extensive.”
He indicated that “those found culpable would be sanctioned.”
Besides prosecuting alleged culprits, WAEC has the authority to sanction educational institutions, school authorities and invigilators for their respective role in examination malpractices, including cases of mass cheating.
According to WAEC’s sanctions regime put in place for “WASSCE 2016 onwards,” where WAEC identifies mass cheating the culpable school shall be de-recognised for a period of not less than one year.
In addition, the School concerned shall pay prescribed extra fees as extra for the supervision and invigilation of the examination before the examination begins.
Teye-Cudjoe, Head of Public Affairs at WAEC, said supervisors and invigilators could also face lifetime bans from WAEC duties.
“The process is that when we…detect that there has been mass cheating…they give us the approval to de-recognise the centre,” she said.
De-recognition of a centre means that the centre number is taken from the school so the school will no longer have a centre number so WAEC would move the candidates to go and write the examinations at another centre.
“Now, with candidates who are found to have engaged in malpractice, we have the necessary rules.
“Depending on what you do you can have either your subject results cancelled or your entire results cancelled or you could be barred.
“You can have your entire results cancelled and you could be barred as well.
“Then with the invigilators and supervisors – those who are staff of the Ghana Education Service – we write a report and report them to the GES because we cannot take action against them.
“What we can do is that we blacklist them from taking part in any of the Council’s activities so if you are an examiner we don’t allow you to take part in any of our processes.
“Any other thing that you may do for us, you cannot do invigilation, you cannot be a supervisor. We just blacklist you totally from all our, engaging in any of the Council’s activities.
“Blacklist for life. So we blacklist you and you cannot do anything for us again.
Meanwhile, WAEC has issued its first set of sanctions to some of the candidates, who sat for the WASSCE for School Candidates in 2021. In a December 8, 2021 statement announcing the release of provisional results of candidates, WAEC said it has cancelled a total of 1,339 ‘Subject Results’ and 174 ‘Entire Results’ of candidates.
According to WAEC, these candidates engaged in various examination malpractices such as bringing foreign material including mobile phones into the examination hall, tearing off parts of question papers and collusion.
In addition, WAEC withheld the ‘Entire Results’ of 3,667 candidates pending the conclusion of investigations into various cases of examination malpractice detected during and after the conduct of the examination.
Furthermore, WAEC withheld the scripts of candidates from 194 schools in certain subjects for scrutiny.
Meanwhile, WAEC has since released the ‘Entire Results’ to candidates of All for Christ Senior High/Technical School and Duadaso No. 1 Senior High/Technical School.
The examination body had initially withheld the ‘Entire Results’ of candidates of the two schools.
Following an RTI request by Corruption Watch, WAEC disclosed in a letter dated June 17, 2022 that the reason for the release of ‘Entire’ or ‘Subject Results’ which were initially withheld is that there was “Inconclusive evidence.”
There should be real enforcement of law
In the opinion of the Chairperson (now former) of the NCCE, Ms Josephine Nkrumah, authorities should carry out real enforcement of the law, including closing down schools, which are culpable.
“Whoever, school authorities who, you know, there is evidence to support that they were actually involved in this they must face the full rigours of the law.
“They should not be allowed to go scot-free because it’s not just the act and the immediate effect of the act that we should be looking at.
“We should be looking at the ripple effect of the act and realise that it costs much more than just even the cost of the exam.
“So I think there should be a full scale investigation and it should be made very public so it sends a strong warning to people because if we don’t do that eventually what we have is an army waiting to happen; an untrained army for that matter.
“We need to take the bull by the horn and carry out real enforcement of law and make spectacle of persons who are engaged in this.
“We need to be bold when we have the evidence to suggest that any school was involved to even close down the school and send that as a clear sign that it would not be tolerated,” Ms Nkrumah recommended.
Seeking for extensive reform
As a way forward, Teye-Cudjoe, Head of Public Affairs at WAEC, said the Council was considering the implementation of various interventions that were aimed at reducing human involvement in the question paper production value chain, including retooling the Council, serialization, using of parallel tests and making use of variable data printing, among others.
“If you, maybe, followed the conduct of the BECE you noted that we implemented something new; that is we piloted something new and we would be looking towards that direction.
“That is we had some serialization of the objective test and we would be going more into that in the future.”
In any case, the executive director of Africa Education Watch, Mr Kofi Asare believes that the time is ripe for carrying out reforms at WAEC to clean and restore the integrity of the WASSCE.
“We’re having constructive engagement with people who have the responsibility to reform WAEC.
“WAEC cannot reform itself. We’ve always said that.
As I always keep saying, the challenges we are discussing today is not about WAEC suddenly becoming so bad. No, WAEC is a credible institution and I keep saying that it’s a credible institution.
“But they have challenges because they’ve been overtaken by technology.
“In all this WAEC is a contractor in Ghana, contracted by the Ministry of Education to undertake an assessment for Ghanaian students.
“Whatever is happening is partly because there is no regulator. There are no standards being set by an external agency.
“So we are of the opinion that as part of the reforms one of the first things we need to do is to remove GES from the board of WAEC. We think it amounts to conflicting interests.
“It’s a conflict of interest because the director-general of GES’ job is to prepare students at the pre-tertiary level for assessment.
“The litmus, the test of the outcome of his work is WAEC WASSCE results.
“So WAEC is the assessor of the director-general of GES because his KPIs include WASSCE pass rate.
“In fact, it does not include; it’s the most important KPI so far as his delivery at the secondary education level is concerned.
The Ms Nkrumah, (former) chairperson of NCCE, concludes that the reforms must include a national conversation around the country’s value system because the high incidence of examination malpractices boils down to the breakdown in the value system of the Ghanaian society.
“I think we need a national conversation that does not look at the negatives but beyond looking at it we must find a serious national intervention to rein in the effect of this poor value system.
“The very fundamentals of our character are flawed. We’ve lost our value system.
“So, there is a larger question to answer that goes beyond examination malpractice but is also just finding expression in examination malpractice and for that matter our educational system.
“Typically we’re talking about malpractice, we’re talking about corruption. We are talking about indiscipline and all of those things.
“But what does it boil down to? It boils down to what is the bedrock of our society in terms of the value system that we have.
“So, you can never speak to issues about malpractice or corruption if you haven’t dealt with a value system where you are instilling truthfulness, trustworthiness, integrity in an individual.”
Story by Frederick ASIAMAH, Journalist, Corruption Watch