The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), on the 20th of January, 2015, re-announced that it would by the end of this month begin destroying certificates of private candidates that have not been collected since the last 10 years. The move is aimed at decongesting the offices which have been flooded with candidates’ certificates. WAEC says some of these certificates comprise that of candidates who wrote the November-December, Advanced Business, and General Business examinations dating as far back as 1965. According to the Head of Public Affairs of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, last year alone saw more than one hundred and seventy seven thousand (177 000) candidates sitting for the November-December examinations. Considering that, averagely, this number of candidates write WAEC’s private examinations each year, then by way of calculations, multiplying the number of candidates by the number of years of uncollected certificates, one would agree with WAEC that indeed its storage spaces are choked with certificates. We must, however pause to ask whether the West African Examinations Council’s move to destroy these certificates is laudable? Will the destruction of these certificates forever decongest WAEC’s storage space? Certainly not!
Indeed, 10 years from now, another batch of candidates’ certificates would again be printed and kept in the same storage spaces that WAEC claims is choked now and candidates would again abandon the collection of such certificates. Hence, this system of destroying old certificates and printing new sets of certificates would merely become a cycle of waste. The gospel truth is that, many of these candidates do not even know that apart from collecting their results slips there are certificates to be collected as well. Per suggestions to the examining body, WAEC must adopt the use of SMS alert messages to tell candidates whose certificates are ready for collection to do so. Similarly, emails could be sent to these candidates telling them where and when to go for their certificates. More so since WAEC says after the destruction of these certificates former candidates in need of attestation of results would have to pay for them suggests that the certificates could be printed on demand. So, why are they not printed on demand rather than printing them before demand? There should be a flexible system of collecting one’s certificate.
For instance, one should be able to apply online to WAEC where he or she wrote the examination for their certificate to be sent to the nearest WAEC office for identification and collection without necessarily commuting from one region to the other. The West African Examinations Council must look beyond clearing old stock of certificates at its storage facilities and focus on dealing with the root causes of why such spaces get flooded with uncollected certificates. A Cameroonian proverb says that he who does not look ahead always remains behind. It is about time WAEC looked ahead by taking advantage of technology in getting things done the right way or remain behind the global world.
BY: SOLOMON MENSAH, A FREELANCE JOURNALIST.