The activities of rogue website operators, WhatsApp and Telegram groups remain the headache of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in the conduct of its examinations in recent times.
These websites and social media platforms, which always go to bed and spring up in full force when national examinations such as the ongoing West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) are being conducted, are a worrying phenomenon
The operators of these platforms often entice candidates to part with money by posting several fake versions of question papers. They also post actual questions after receipt and opening of question paper packets at the examination centres.
The Daily Graphic sees them as a cartel made up of supervisors, invigilators and some school management in collusion with security officials on duty at the examination centres.
We are worried that adults entrusted with ensuring the smooth conduct of examinations are themselves the culprits, turning the examination halls into gold mines.
Every year, a number of invigilators are implicated in one examination malpractice or another and we believe that WAEC, in collaboration with the Ghana Education Service (GES), needs to have a relook at who becomes an invigilator.
We also believe that the time has come for the punishment that comes with engaging in examination malpractice to be relooked at to make such offences more punitive and unattractive to commit.
The current punishment of 100 to 120 penalty units, translating to about GH¢1,200 and GH¢1,400, respectively, is not punitive enough, if you consider that one website or a whatsapp platform has over 1,000 students, and if each student parts with at least GHc20 per paper, that fine is peanut. Even though there is a fine of 500 penalty units, it is almost nonexistent, as it has hardly been professed against anybody.
Last week, a teacher was arrested in the Volta Region but he is currently walking free because he is said to have been fined GH¢750. That amount the Daily Graphic sees as ridiculous because it is not punitive enough.
The current situation has emboldened many more people to venture into the rogue website business and those social media platforms, with the hope that if they are not caught, they can cash in on desperate candidates. However, even when they are caught, they can just use a small fraction of what the candidates have paid them to defray the fine.
The Daily Graphic believes that even as the call to have a relook at the punishment that comes with examination malpractice is made, we need to expedite action on the passage of the bill on examination offences and related cases.
We recall that in 2019, WAEC initiated the process to obtain powers of prosecution to enable it to put people before court for examination malpractice.
We wish to urge the Attorney-General and Parliament to work to ensure that WAEC is given not only the power to prosecute but also a dedicated court to expedite the prosecution of offenders and help curb the menace of wrongdoing in examinations.
This is a worthy cause and we urge the A-G and Parliament to facilitate the process because we know that currently WAEC’s role insofar as dealing with examination malpractice is concerned,- is to apprehend offenders, confirm that the crimes have been committed and hand over the offenders to the police for prosecution.
We believe that the request by WAEC is not too much to be honoured.
We, however, wish to state that while WAEC and its stakeholders look at finding a solution to this canker called examination malpractice, we encourage candidates to avoid over-reliance on ‘apo‘ to enable them to pass their examinations.
What candidates do not know is that the operators of those platforms are out to extort money from them because, in most cases, the supposed question papers turn out to be ‘apo swerves’.
So we want to urge candidates to believe in themselves and what they have already studied because the questions set are from what they have been taught.
Let all the relevant bodies help ensure that the sanctity and integrity of WAEC organised examinations and their certificates are not compromised.