West African Examinations Council (WAEC), has on Tuesday, 19th March, 2019, held its 67th annual conference at Catco Hotel in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The anniversary was attended by WAEC member countries, chief government nominees of the various countries, WAEC stakeholders, students, ministers, and senior government officials, among others.
Awards were given to students for their outstanding performance in the 2018 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) for public acknowledgement.
The annual conference, which marked the end of one council year and beginning of a new council year, is hosted by member countries every five years.
Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, Freetown City Council (FCC), who welcomed council members to Freetown, said the central government has prioritized education and at city levels, they have set two targets, hence it was important to the work of WAEC.
"One of the targets is to improve the monitoring framework within council schools for learning outcome and the second one is directly linked with this meeting and to the world as a whole, which is to ensure that by 2022, 100 percent of all schools in Freetown will be able to take the WAEC exams in a transparent and credible manner," she stated and added that they are partnering with the Ministry of Secondary and Basic Education, the Teaching Service Commission, school authorities, among others.
She said that the most powerful weapon to move the world is education, noting that education will transform not just Freetown but the world as a whole.
Registrar to Council, Dr Iyi Uwadiae, who expressed his appreciation for the government to create the enabling environment for the hosting of the conference, said there are cultural similarities between member countries and Sierra Leone.
"WAEC conducts two categories of examinations in the sub-region-the West African Senior School Examination Council (WASSCE), and the aptitude test, selection test and some examinations on behalf of other examination bodies in member countries. In 2018, WASSEC conducted leakage free examinations in all of the member countries," he said.
He said all member countries presented candidates for both school and private WASSEC, noting that a total of 1. 17 million candidates in May/June, 301,061 private candidates, sat to WASSCE in November/ December of 2018.
He disclosed that enrolment for the examinations increased in 2018 by 61,414 amounting for 2.277 percent compared to the 2017 figures, saying that the increase might appear minimal, but it was important for WAEC because it stopped the yearly decrease which has been the tread since 2013.
"The Gambia enrolls 17,766 candidates, Ghana 450,731 candidates, Nigeria 1,609,415 candidates, Sierra Leone 77,521 candidates, and Liberia 40,155, totaling 860,028 which shows a decrease of 0.34 percent compared to the previous year's figures of 862,988," he noted while commending Sierra Leone for the introduction free quality education.
He said examinations malpractices are now the menace that continued to distract examination administrators and examining bodies in the sub-region.
He noted that they were posing a challenge in the attainment of quality education and a threat to the reliability of assessment processes.
He said WAEC has continued to deploy monitoring mechanisms and strengthened the investigative system across the sub-region, appealing to government to discourage examination fraud in their respective countries.
"I acknowledge the efforts made by President Bio through the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to collaborate with WAEC in fighting examinations malpractices in Sierra Leone," he noted.
He stated most aspects of the council's activities have been digital for effective service delivery.
Chairman of Council, Babocarr Bouy, said that the computer-based technology is greatly enabling WAEC to move from current system to digital system of examinations.
"WAEC has survived post-colonial organization in the sub region. It has even gone beyond its mandate by providing statistics data for government research. WAEC depends on government subvention and examination fees to operate. Interestingly, some governments are highly indebted," he disclosed.
He disclosed that the 2019 WASSCE will be conducted for a large number of students in Sierra Leone.
He also commended Sierra Leone Police, and ACC, among others for assisting WAEC to fight examinations malpractices.
Giving his keynote address on behalf of the President of Sierra Leone, Chief Minister, Prof. David Francis said WAEC was now a different body from their days in 1980s.
He thanked the council members for the massive transformation while stating that an educated and skilled work force is critical to development.
"Our government has launched a National Development Plan titled: Education for Development. Education is not only an end but a means to an education, and that means is sustainable development," he stated.
He said the human capital development of this government has three pillars which include free quality education, food security, and health, adding that free quality education will guarantee equal opportunity for all to access to free primary and secondary education.
"How do we ensure that our education prepares brains who are competitive in the 21st century national development process in respective member state and also in global economy?" he asked.
He said this is where WAEC comes in and there is a need for partnership between our government and WAEC to ensuring integrity of examinations and also examinations that is sufficiently robust and considered relevant by institutions.
He said that the New Direction government expects WAEC to uphold and institutionalize the integrity and transparent on the quality of examination and the examination processes, pledging that they will meet all obligations to WAEC.