Home Education Supervisors, invigilators selling WAEC questions online – WAEC boss admits

Supervisors, invigilators selling WAEC questions online – WAEC boss admits

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In this interview, the Head of Nigeria Office, West African Examinations Council, Mr Patrick Areghan, tells GRACE EDEMA about the strategies the examination body has put in place to curb malpractices, reports The PUNCH.


It is believed that with N2,000, one can get the West African Senior School Certificate Examination questions online an hour before the commencement of such an examination. How true is this?

You don’t just call a dog a bad name because you want to hang it. This is an organisation that has existed for 71 good years and it’s still standing strong, known for professionalism, integrity, and accountability. We don’t shirk our responsibility. In WAEC, there’s nothing like leakage. It has never happened. What happens now is that we have some unscrupulous and unreliable supervisors who are ready to die for a mere pocket profit. When we give them our question papers, one hour before the scheduled time, to enable them to transit between the collection point and the administration point, and we have released these materials to them, it’s out of our hands. However, there is a system we use to monitor their movement. We call it the Candidates Identity Verification, Attendance, Malpractice and Post Examinations Management System. When they collect (the question papers) at 8 am, we estimate about 30 minutes to transit, but what do they do? In the various schools, they will demobilise the system. They will tell you it’s not working. This is not true because that is what we use to take attendance. That’s what we use to record examination malpractice and know the details of the candidates but they will demobilise it.

WAEC has just more than 1,000 staff members. And we have about 21,222 secondary schools in the last exam. How do, let’s say 1,500 staff members, monitor 21,222 secondary schools? That’s not possible under the sun. So, we now rely on our ad hoc workers called supervisors. And these are people sent to us by the various states’ ministries of education.

We don’t have the right or power of our own to employ any teacher to serve as a supervisor or an invigilator. They have the credibility criteria that they follow. It doesn’t just end there. We sit down together; we screen them one by one and pick the supposedly good ones without blemish.

We organise training for them, which we call briefing and then we give them letters of appointment and post them to schools that are different from their own schools. What happens? The Nigerian mentality is to go and make money. They won’t go into the exam hall unless they collect money from candidates. When they get there, they pretend to be busy and bring out a copy of the question paper and take a photograph of it. They belong to different syndicate groups on Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook. These people advertise boldly that candidates should pay into so-and-so accounts and the students will now subscribe.

Luckily for us, we have got an in-built, in-house mechanism, which is a system we have put together to detect all those activities. We are able to track to identify who posted (the question paper), when it was posted, and where it was posted at the centre. Then we send police officers to go and arrest the candidates, supervisors, and invigilators. We have arrested them now. They are being tried in various states, but we want to report all of them to the Inspector General of Police so they can be centrally monitored.

What’s the implication of examination malpractice and carrying a certificate you didn’t work for around?

Having a certificate you didn’t work for is a sin because you are trying to cut corners. That’s not the way of God. Second, it reduces self-esteem. You don’t even believe in yourself, in your ability to do anything again. Once you cheat, that self-esteem is gone. The third implication is the societal effect, which is, moral decadence. We are losing our societal value of working hard to achieve greatness. You want to achieve greatness through illegal means and it is affecting the moral and social fabric of society. Again, that’s corruption. It breeds cultism in universities; they are the quack doctors, engineers, teachers, and so on. You can see the multiplier effect.

But once that is discovered by us, you can lose your results. We can even withdraw or derecognise you. We can even withdraw recognition from the school. There’s a difference between derecognition and withdrawal of recognition. When we derecognise you, it means for the next two years, you are no longer recognised as a member of the committee of schools. You are ostracised. You have to pay a fine. Of course, we allow you to take the exam because of the candidates but you will not get the results unless you pay the fine imposed on your school. Your teachers, and your school authorities, will not participate in the conduct of the examination. We will bring other people from other schools if you want the examination to be conducted in your school and this is with the support from the state Ministry of Education. But the requirement is that you can be taken to another school where the school is willing to accept you to write the exam. But when it is withdrawal of recognition, it means you have lost your number, the school is no longer in existence.

How can school owners tackle examination malpractice?

We now have what we call online collision. This means that somebody in Lagos State is writing the same thing as somebody in Ondo State because both of them are recruiting from the same source. Some good schools are not even aware that some of their candidates have been exposed to these things. But a good school should monitor its candidates and make sure they (the students) don’t go into the exam halls with their smartphones.

It’s ridiculous when people are talking of expo. Expo will be flying all over the place when you are a subscriber. Schools should help WAEC to enforce the rules and make sure candidates don’t carry smartphones into the examination halls. The schools should make sure the examination halls are also conducive. In a conducive classroom, you can’t find anything written on the wall.

You see most of these so-called expos, whether out of mischief or crass ignorance, most of them are fake. 99.9 per cent of them are fake.

What can you say to the concerns of some stakeholders that WAEC should also conduct e-exams?

WAEC conducts 197 papers in eight weeks. Every candidate has 27 papers to write in eight weeks. How many CBT centres do we have in this country? Even if we have CBT centres, can you write essays online? We have objective questions, we have practical, we have oral, and we have essays. We examine four areas, some three. How many candidates can you bring into an urban centre for eight weeks? Assuming it’s even possible to write essays and practicals online, where are the facilities? Sometimes you have data on your phone, and you get to a certain place and it won’t work. We have a long, long, long way to go. Where is the electricity? Assuming the light is even stable, how many of them have a basic computer or laptop?

Going by the performance of candidates and the standard of WASSCE over the years, can students of today answer 1970 WASSCE questions?

WAEC exams have the same standard, whether in 1970 or 2023. That’s why when you say the standard of education is going down, I disagree because there is a difference between the standard of education and performance. If you say the performance of the candidates is dwindling, I fully agree. But as far as the standard of our examination is concerned, it is constant from time immemorial, today and till thy kingdom comes. Yes, in a way, you can say the performance is going down generally because of poor facilities in schools, no availability of qualified teachers, lack of remuneration and motivation and what have you. Also, commitment from the teachers is not there. But the standard of education remains the same in all exam bodies because the exam syllabus is drawn from the national curriculum.

Comment on the dwindling aspect of students’ performance?

The dwindling aspect is a by-product of the poor system of education we have. Ultimately, that would rub off on the quality of performance of the candidates. I do not totally agree with those people who belong to that school of thought. An examination is supposed to be derived from learning. It is the teaching that will determine the examination and the performance. The outcome is supposed to be measured by examination. Schools now wait to use the outcome to carry out their teaching activities. So, they will say ‘areas of concentration.’

How can the government and stakeholders move the educational sector forward?

Let’s focus on the 6-3-3-4 system. Let’s focus on the technical contents of our teaching. Let us make it work. Let’s equip our schools. Let’s recruit adequate and competent teachers. Provide teaching, learning, and laboratory facilities. Let there be libraries in schools. Let’s make sure the teachers teach by motivating them. Once you base the reward system on the number of students that passed, then teachers are led into doing the wrong thing. That’s why sometimes you see teachers organising for their candidates, writing on the chalkboard, dictating answers and all that because some states would say your promotion would be based on that. But when it’s genuinely done and they pass genuinely, yes you can reward them.

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