The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) begins across the country today, with 346,098 candidates from 987 public and private senior high schools writing the examination in various subjects.
Many criticise examinations as not being appropriate in assessing students because, they argue, examinations cannot fully measure innate abilities and potential and that the system does not encourage the pursuit of knowledge but rather the quest for grades.
Among many other minuses, a section of people are of the view that the current system of examination should be scrapped for a more effective means of assessing students, especially because examinations get the student to simply cram when studying, but the information is forgotten after the test is taken, which defeats the very purpose of examinations, in the first place.
The Daily Graphic agrees with such arguments, but contends that in spite of the shortcomings of examinations, they are at least effective tools for placing in divisions the different ability levels of learners to, as good as possible, put them into areas where they could be most effective to carve a bright future for themselves.
We agree that competence and intelligence are not easy to measure, but the fact remains that there must be a formal system to test learners’ abilities.
We, however, concur that to be able to place learners effectively, the testing system must be fair and impartial.
We recall the many instances of actual leakage and rumours of leakage of examination questions in the country over the years and note with pain and regret the many students who have gone through emotional and psychological stress in times when examinations have been cancelled.
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Certainly, there are people who have left the educational system long ago but are still suffering from the effects of examination leakages that occurred during their time of schooling, both as beneficiaries or otherwise.
It is on this basis that we commend the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for its decision to verify candidates biometrically before they are allowed to enter the examination halls.
Although we do not say this will address examination malpractice in its entirety, we believe it will deal decisively with a major aspect of malpractice – impersonation.
As we commend WAEC for the initiative, we implore candidates to observe the other examination rules and regulations, such as not taking mobile phones and electronic organisers into examination halls, not communicating with others during examination and not carrying any material text to the halls.
The Daily Graphic also entreats parents to counsel their children to play by the rules of the examination in order to have a smooth examination period.
We also add our voice to the call by WAEC to stakeholders, such as invigilators and supervisors, to help safeguard the integrity of the examination by concentrating on the job and being vigilant.
We further admonish candidates to focus on their studies, thoroughly revise their notes, prepare well for the examination and desist from the eagerness to cheat the system by resorting to so-called leaked papers that will disappoint them in the long run.
It is our wish that the educational system and other agents of socialisation will be able to train our children in a way that, some time to come, they will not see the need to rely on leaked questions to pass their examinations.
We wish our dear candidates the best of luck and success as they go through the examination.