The 2016 Basic Education Certificate Examination started on a good note and ended successfully. The examination attracted the attention of the entire nation. Parents, Guardians and other Stakeholders in education were on tenterhook during the period of the examination. They continued to pray against any leakage of examination questions which has been a source of worry and embarrassment to the whole nation. Those fears, worries and anxieties now belong to history. The West African Examinations Council took the bull by the horn. Its resilience and capacity to rise to the occasion is no longer in question. Doubting Thomases have been proved wrong. Security measures put in place by WAEC in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service to forestall leakage of examination questions paid off. The examinations passed off unscathed and it is appropriate to congratulate WAEC. Other stakeholders in education like parents and guardians must also be commended for their cooperation and patience displayed throughout the period of the examination. Heads of schools, supervisors and invigilators should also receive a pat at the back. State intelligence agencies like the Bureau of National Investigations working behind the scenes should also share in the honours for such a success story.
Nonetheless, some incidents occurred during the examinations which cannot be swept under the carpet. At some examination centres, question papers arrived late and this affected the time the examination was scheduled to start. There was a mix-up of some candidates' index numbers at some examination centres. Psychologically, such candidates may have been affected. However, it was good that alternate arrangements were made on the spot to make sure that such affected candidates did not suffer unnecessarily. At Yendi in the Northern Region, it was reported that twelve candidates were prevented from writing the BECE on grounds of truancy. They had allegedly reported for school for only ten days throughout the whole term. Invigilators at some centres were not too willing to invigilate the examination because GES had failed to pay them their invigilation allowance. In Bongo in the Upper East Region for example, there was a delay in the start of the BECE for almost one hour because the invigilators were demanding last years' invigilation allowance which was still outstanding. That was regrettable.
Going forward, the GES must take steps to resolve this problem which appears to be nationwide. Despite these isolated incidents, the conduct of the 2016 BECE on the whole has been a roaring success. The question is, after this success, what next? WAEC'S performance must not be a nine day wonder. A repeat of such a dose would go a long way to restore confidence in the Council. Perhaps one issue worth considering is the usual visit to examination centres by high profile government officials. Some are of the view that the presence of such personalities goes a long way to boost the morale of the candidates, who get the rare opportunity of interacting with them for the first time. Others however contend that, their presence seems to intimidate the candidates, gets them distracted and even disorganize their thought processes. As to how best this can be resolved is another issue. From now till the time results are released, is a long and critical waiting period for the candidates. Parents and Guardians must do well to occupy their wards, for as the saying goes, the devil finds work for the idle hand. The nation would like to see her children move from one ladder of education to another in a smooth manner for continuity in nation building. Once again congratulations to WAEC and candidates of the 2016 BECE for a good job done.
BY ALEX AMPONFI-DUKU, A RETIRED HEADMASTER