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Of WAEC, Trainee Nurses, and Pregnant Kissi Girls

Sun, 21 Jun 2015 Source: Frankly Speaking

The vision of the 63-year-old West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is “to be a world class examining body adding value to the educational goals of its numerous stakeholders”, while it aims to be Africa’s foremost examining body providing qualitative and reliable educational assessment.

One significant aim of WAEC, according to its mission, is to encourage “academic and moral excellence”, but the question remains as to whether it has been able to achieve this moral excellence in its 63-year existence.

In recent years many examinations conducted by WEAC for pupils and students have recorded leakages of questions, clearly pointing to the failures and efficiencies of the organisation.

The disturbing aspect of this fact is that in each occasion it is the pupil or student who had to bear the consequences of the inefficiencies of WAEC without any action taken against those who caused the leakages and subsequent cancellation of either already written examination papers or results.

The WAEC was founded in 1952 by Ghana (then Gold Coast), The Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria on the prompting of the British colonialists, with Liberia joining in 1974. It was to ensure the harmony and standardisation of pre-university assessment of pupils and students in British West Africa.

Its task was therefore to conduct examinations in the public interest; and award certificates of equal standard to those in the United Kingdom.

One could somehow say the council has managed to make some positive achievements over the years. However, as is the case with every monopolistic environment, the WAEC has over the years fallen short of the standards it set itself at its inception and therefore acted as if there were no laws covering its operations. One reason is because it has no competition.

WAEC officials could just dream and wake up and cancel results, cancel examination papers or reschedule examination timetable for which pupils and students had prepared for, without any soothing words for pupils, students, and their parents and guardians.

The Ministry of Education (MoE), which is supposed to seek the interest of pupils and students, and their parents and guardians have always behaved like an absentee chief of a community who would only come to make post-incident comments long after incidents have happened without any remedies.

Cancellation of examinations which are mid-way has now become one of the trademarks of WAEC. It is therefore not surprising that the on-going Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) has suffered the same fate when five papers already written by pupils throughout the country were cancelled by WAEC this week.

As usual, it’s parents and their children who are to suffer. The worse situation for our young children this time is the fact the MoE has become an accomplice in causing grief and sorrow to these innocent children. The Minister of Education, Prof. Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, is quoted in the media as saying that “the decision to cancel some papers in the on-going BECE was a collective one between the ministry and the WAEC.

Where else do we run to when the MoE is involved in causing this injustice, while unashamedly the minister goes round feeling no guilt and not admitting the failures and inefficiencies of her ministry and WAEC.

What is the justification for cancelling five examination papers across the country because some of the supposed leaked questions have been found on social sites, when we know for a fact that there are many rural pupils who don’t have access to social media and therefore could not have been part of any malpractice?

The only option for parents and guardians is to go straight to the courts without wasting any more time. Mere talking and lamentation don’t solve problems in Ghana; our usual fama Nyame (leave if to God) syndrome must give way to rule of law to bring sanity at WAEC and the MoE to stop mortgaging the future of pupils and students.

A BECE candidate from Adieyie in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem District of the Western Region is reported to have collapsed after learning of the cancellation of the papers. I’m not sure Prof Naana Opoku Agyeman knows about this. What would she have done if the candidate was her child?

Human rights lawyers, where are you? Please, rise up help parents and guardians now. It is the lack of money to engage lawyers which has in the past made many of us stay with the fama Nyame option. Human rights lawyers must rise up to the challenge this time.

Dunkwa Trainee Nurses

And what is Nana Addai Gyambra, the board chairman of the Dunkwa Nursing Training College saying? Is he serious at all with his pronouncement? Has he heard about what human rights abuse means?

The about 500 students from the college on May 18, this year, protested against the non-payment of their three years’ allowances by picketing in Accra, at which the Health Minister, Mr Alex Segbefia, met them and promised the payment of their allowances.

There is every indication that the patience of the students had ran out after the authorities of the college had not been able to help them get their allowances, hence they had to bring their plight to the attention of the nation.

The fact is that the students organised a very peaceful protest without destroying any property or hurting anyone. I believe it is that show of maturity by the trainee nurses which compelled the minister to meet them.

One month after the minister’s promise, the students have still not received their allowances, but instead of the college authorities seeing the plight of the students, it has been reported that the students have been suspended by the college with some facing the risk of not been allowed to write their final examination.

According Addai Gyambra, the college “is built on the solid foundation of patience, tolerance, respect for authorities, and obedience for which reason the school will not countenance any form of disrespect from the students”, adding that “this institution is governed by rules and regulations which every student is under obligation to obey every bit of it to the letter”.

The board chairman must understand that the college also has a responsibility to the students and it was their right to act after waiting for three good years without any action by the college to seek their welfare, and in this case, they acted maturely and peacefully.

My advice to the trainee nurses is that Ghana is ruled by a constitution, and therefore they must not accept the bullying tactics adopted by their college authorities. They must quickly look for lawyers to take the college to court. Democracy only thrives when we all live according to laws and not by any autocratic powers by people in authority who want to safe their their positions when they had failed their duty.

Pregnant Kissi Girls

The queenmother of Kissi in the Komenda- Edina-Eguafo-Abrem District of the Central Region, Nana Efua Badu II, has announced that teenagers in the town who get pregnant would be paraded through the town, to shame them and serve as a deterrent to prevent teenage pregnancies.

Nana, ‘mekyew ara ni’ (I doff my hat in begging), it’s good to prevent teenage pregnancies, but parading pregnant teenagers through the community is unacceptable and against the dignity of the teenagers and thus violating their human rights.

The community leaders must find better ways to encourage girls to go to school by educating them on the dangers of sexual activities. The must also encourage proper parental care and control and find the causes of teenage sexual activities instead of adopting this 14th century punitive measures.

PS: Honourable Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West, Ursula Owusu Ekuful, is reported to have stated that she was worried about the seeming monetisation of elections in her party, the NPP. I therefore implore her to set an example by not giving a pesewa to any delegate in her constituency prior to the impending primaries there.

She’s is also reported to have said that she sometimes beg for money to feed her family due to the strain on her to meet her obligation for party and constituents. This is disgraceful; and my advice to her is that she must not seek re-election. Simple!

Columnist: Frankly Speaking