Following the arrest of several persons by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) into allegations of possessing partially filled West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) answer booklets and tampered envelops, the ACC has in a press release dated 25 January 2019 stated that they have “discovered huge structural and agency loopholes at WAEC.”
This the Commission says include but not limited to an existing examination malpractice syndicate between some WAEC staff and pupils.
In addition to these gaps, the ACC says it has also discovered serious lapses in the scripts and examination management regime, weak controls in the script room, lack of proper records in respect of script movements and no records of issued scripts maintained by the script room staff.
Despite the fact that the criminal investigations are still ongoing, the ACC noted that these gaps created the enabling environment for staff to perpetuate money-making plans with desperate pupils, teachers and parents to carry out examination fraud.
As a result the Commission says it will work with the management of WAEC to conduct a systems and processes review of structures and operations of the examination body as a matter of urgency with a view to forestalling and preventing a re-occurrence.
The Commission says it will not prosecute the arrested pupils, but use them as prosecution witnesses when they proceed with prosecution against the key conspirators in the Scheme.
On Monday 24 September 2018, the ACC in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Police and Office of National Security (ONS) conducted an operation leading to the arrest of 71 persons at a private residence at Aberdeen, for offences stated above contrary to section 48 (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008.
The arrested persons are mostly private candidates for the September/October 2018 West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). From their findings the ACC established that the pupils were to write the examinations at night and return the scripts to some WAEC officials who would ensure they are surreptitiously included in the WAEC script room and marked as normal scripts.
The principal suspects in this scheme according to the ACC are Vidal Wray, a contract staff at WAEC, who is on the run and wanted by the ACC and one Aiah Mbayo who coordinated the scheme and recruited the pupils.
The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Alpha Timbo in September 2018, also raised issue regarding the quality of education as he feels it should be measured on the level of acceptance that students gain in external universities.
“But if the credibility of our examining body is weak definitely we will not be exposing ourselves to having credible students or even the potential of having acceptance at universities” he said during their budget presentation at the Policy Hearing.
The Minister said that the current WASSCE that is being taken by students has so many malpractices taking place and it is being done by WAEC as well as the institutions that are managing the process.
“We are making sure that we reform the processes going forward” he promised.