The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), through intelligence, has caused the arrest of one of the operators of rogue websites identified as a major source of examination malpractice in the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The culprit (name withheld) is currently assisting the Cyber Crime Unit of the Ghana Police Service in investigations to unearth the modus operandi of such website operators.
The Head of National Office (HNO) of WAEC, Mrs Wendy E. Addy-Lamptey, who made this known to the Daily Graphic last Tuesday explained that the move was part of WAEC’s determination to flush out such website operators and preserve the sanctity of the council’s work.
She said some supervisors, invigilators and candidates, who were alleged to be involved in the examination malpractice had also been apprehended.
Not a leakage
Mrs Addy-Lamptey explained that those website operators, with the connivance of some invigilators and supervisors, received snapshots of the question papers from the examination centres after the packets were opened.
They then solved the questions and posted the answers on their websites and to WhatsApp groups of candidates who had paid for their services.
Mrs Addy-Lamptey, who was throwing more light on the alleged leakage of examination papers for the ongoing 2019 WASSCE, which ends tomorrow, insisted that such a practice did not amount to the leakage of an examination paper because, “at that time, the paper had been sent to the centres and opened for distribution to the candidates.
“It becomes a leakage when the paper is seen a day before the examination or hours before the paper is taken out of the WAEC depots,” Mrs Addy-Lamptey explained.
She said the WAEC had to turn to the Cyber Crime Unit of the CID of the Ghana Police Service to help clamp down such websites.
Mrs Addy-Lamptey added that some school authorities were also involved in the practice where they created hideouts for teachers knowledgeable in the subject areas to wait for the question paper packets to be opened for snapshots to be taken in order to solve the questions and send answers to candidates in the examination halls.
The HNO said that had led to the desperation of candidates to smuggle mobile phones to the examination halls to await and access solved answers on whatsApp.
She said the Council had increased the inspection and monitoring of the examination at the various centres; and had withdrawn and/or annulled the appointment of some supervisors and invigilators pending further sanctions.
“A number of candidates suspected to have been involved in examination malpractice are also being investigated. As a further step, the Council would scrutinise all scripts of schools where cheating has been reported,” Mrs Addy-Lamptey stated.
Giving further details, Mrs Addy-Lamptey said WAEC had so far identified 29 schools whose candidates would be scrutinised thoroughly during the marking of the examination papers because of their alleged involvement in examination malpractices during the WASSCE.
She gave the breakdown as 10 of such schools being in Kumasi, five in Accra, four in Sunyani, three each in Tamale and Koforidua, and one each in Cape Coast, Takoradi and Bolgatanga.
The WAEC boss said the number was likely to increase by the end of the examination when WAEC would have received reports from across the country.
Mrs Addy-Lamptey said staff of WAEC on routine monitoring were threatened and gave an instance when a staff member who attempted to collect a prepared text a candidate was smuggling into the examination hall had the finger bitten so hard as to let go of the paper.
Integrity of certificates
She expressed grave worry that if efforts were not stepped up to curb the social media threat, “the integrity and credibility of our certificates will be seriously affected.”
Mrs Addy-Lamptey, therefore, urged all stakeholders. including members of the public, to collaborate with WAEC to safeguard the integrity of the examinations and certificates it awarded.
She, however, said many of the candidates had conducted themselves very well and assured such students that due diligence would be followed to ensure fairness to all.
Mrs Addy-Lamptey thanked informants whose effort enabled the WAEC, in collaboration with the security agencies, to foil a well-rehearsed and orchestrated plan to cheat in the examination, resulting in the apprehension of some students, supervisors, invigilators and school authorities.
The WAEC boss assured the informants that their identities would always be protected and therefore, encouraged all members of the public to help resist the attempt by a few selfish individuals to tarnish the reputation and integrity of certificates awarded by the WAEC.