The Head of National Office, West African Examination Council, Amos Dangut, has allayed fears that the introduction of the computer-based method for writing the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations would fail.
Dangut spoke while giving insights on the proposed CBT model when he appeared on the TVC Breakfast show on Monday.
In September 2023, the West African Examinations Council revealed that plans to introduce the Computer Based Test mode in the administration of its examinations were at an advanced stage.
The Head of National Office, Mr Patrick Areghan, gave the hint in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
Areghan spoke against the backdrop of notable achievements and advancements of the council under his watch, as he prepared to bow out of office on October 1, 2023.
While speaking on the innovation, Dangut explained that the computer-based test mode has come to stay because everything has been put in place to ensure its success.
According to him, there was no cause for alarm because the examination body has explored all means to ensure that innovation achieves its aim.
He said, “You’re wondering how and why it took us this long to come to this point. Everything is dynamic in life, there’s a time for everything, and now is the time for us to be compliant, and to be where the world is.
“The world today is on the technology lane, particularly in the field of examination, computer-based examination. In our case, it is the WASSCE that we offer. We have taken all these while to get adequately prepared.
“As we speak today, we have tried the system and it has worked. I can say that we have done the basic preparation which includes the trial tests, and we have tried it with the candidates. We have secured state-of-the-art studios that will give us the necessary backing to have seamless conduct of examinations, all the examination operatives (the supervisors and invigilators) have been adequately trained.
“We have also done a lot of mobilisation and sensitisation. From tomorrow (January 23), there is an avenue for candidates to go online into the examination environment, try hands-on and see how it would be, just to allay all anxieties, worries and fears.”
He added that the examination body is aware of fears and scepticism that the innovation is built to fail.
He said, “I want to believe that the major reason some people are afraid of the CBT method is fear of change, just the thought of the idea of having a change. That is just it. The fear of change.”
“With every innovation, people are wary of it, they are afraid. Because of the research that we have done, everything is in place. I want to put it on record today that we’re just at the threshold of overshooting the entry figure for the same exam last year. What does this point out? It means there is a hunger, there is a yearning to engage technology.”
“Because we’re aware of the phobia, we have opened the door for all registered candidates, from tomorrow (January 23rd) and the next (January 24th) they will go online using their handsets, (they do not have to go anywhere, they can do so from the comfort of their rooms) using their entry details to try it out. Our system is very simple and anyone who can read and write will be able to do it. The system is in such a way that you can either use the mouse or the letters. So it’s very easy.
“I can tell you that what we have put in place is perfect. We have tried it, we have deployed it. We also have standby facilities, we have developed a technology that will be independent of the grid network at our exam centres.
“It is going to be done across the federation. whoever registers, wherever that person is, even if he’s living abroad and is about to come back for the exam, wherever the candidates are, they can log in all through the 36 states of the federation, including Abuja, and take the mock examination freely. The mock examination is free.”
Speaking further, Dangut noted that introducing the CBT test mode would go a long way in curbing, if not eradicating the age-long scourge of examination malpractice.
He noted, “It will go a very long way to curb examination malpractice. It will enable us to know in real time when the questions are being delivered, unlike the traditional model where we have delays or intentional acts to undermine the examination.
“We have deployed technology that will help to protect the examination. So it’s not only the supervisors. Other aspects have been put in place to check examination malpractice.
He added that contrary to widespread speculations, the syllabus for the examination remains the same.
“No, there won’t be any change in syllabus. All students who have gone out of the school system are expected to study computer science or data processing because it is part of their curriculum. For WAEC to recognise any school, they have to have those facilities (computer systems).”
Allaying fears coming from some quarters that the new test mode may not be favourable to candidates living in rural areas, he said, “I want to allay the fears of the stakeholders and the public. When we started this private candidate examination, the first series, because we have the second series too, it had always been conducted in urban centres where the facilities exist, but you will be shocked to hear and to know that most rural areas today can undertake computer-based examinations.
“I want to tell the Nigerian community today that if there’s any rural community that wants us to conduct this first series private candidates examination in their community, we’re ready. We have the technology, we have the capacity, we have the ability and determination. All we need is a viable request, and we will come”, he concluded.
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.