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Leakages experienced during examinations are a worry. Compromising a paper before it is written is an issue that must be a concern to all. 

This has become a canker in our educational sector considering many factors that I would raise for the appreciation of all. 
 
I have been a victim not too long ago. One of my papers was cancelled on the basis that it had leaked days before sitting for that paper. Indeed, some people were caught in the examination hall with answers that appear aligned to the paper we were taking. I arrived the following day to write my next paper only to find notice of the cancellation of the previous day's paper.
 
Although notice was served on the day for rewriting the paper, it was postponed a day to the day of the paper after a couple of weeks of preparation. Eventually, due to the postponement without notice of when the paper was to be taken, it was served four months after the cancelation, and 12 days away from starting the subsequent semester's papers. It is not a pleasant experience and this must be critically addressed.
 
The latest, the cancelation of five papers in the 2015 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), perhaps, has received a lot of attention because it affects the masses of our students. This is a phenomenon that transcend all our education ladder.
 
The angle I would tackle this issue from is a discussion that is gradually gaining momentum in our public discourse after the unfortunate incident. 
 
There appears to be a market for leaked papers. Indeed, without a buyer, there cannot be a seller. Examination papers are not goods someone would carry to schools to seek potential buyers. It appears the buyers are those who make the offers for supply.
 
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) since its establishment in 1952 had seen series of leakages in examinations under its jurisdiction which resulted in pain on its candidates. Records show that papers leaked in 1965 barely thirteen years after its establishment. Other years that witnessed leakages are 1983, 1996 and in 2002 which resulted in the cancelation of eight (8) papers which were eventually rewritten by students. 
 
Today, schools advertise on the number of distinctions they are able to produce each year as a means of obtaining more admissions. These are mostly done by private schools whose major focus is to make profit. As it stands, government schools do not need to advertise themselves to be known they exist. They go further to promise the next distinctions for your wards. Have you asked, are these schools those that set the examination questions for WAEC? Have we bothered to ask how they make those distinctions? Probably we can begin interrogating these promises further. 
 
One major issue that may have contributed to these incidences may be the computer selection and placement system that is employed in placing students at the Secondary School level. Due to the need to meet the requirements in order to gain admission into the so called endowed schools, students and parents go at all length to enable their children get what they parents mostly desire.
 
The school one attends becomes a matter of discussion mostly at the tertiary levels. I remember vividly how colleagues then in Accra Polytechnic asked where I schooled before coming to the Polytechnic. All I could tell them was the fact that they have not heard the name of my school ever in their lives. Indeed when I did tell them, they admitted never hearing the name of the school ever. Asukawkaw Secondary School is a government school founded in 1984. That is the school I attended. Perharps what generated their interest in knowing where I schooled was my ability to compete fairly and fiercely with mates who attended the so called prestige schools. Indeed, a statement of the great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is relevant in this case that a man must not only be measured by the height he attain in life, but by the depth from whence he came. The genuine struggles that got some of us to gain admission into institutions of higher learning is what keeps us going.
 
If care is not taken, cheats would appear the smartest and would become the leaders of our country since they would have become the 'educated' with the 'capacity' to lead us. When this happens, those who have genuinely struggled, but who failed to make the aggregates ten (10) or better would be denied the opportunity to attend schools in this country. Meanwhile, they are the people who have the capacity to think in life.
 
At the basic levels of education, I would find it shocking to believe if a student at the basic level negotiated for what landed them where they are today. Some schools are reportedly writing mock and special mock exams. Whereas the mock examination papers are made available to the students to take home, the special mock examination papers are never given to them. Why so if there is nothing to hide from the public?  
 
I was amazed hearing some students in the recent incident threatening to embark on demonstration while calling for evidence to be made available. It only goes to stress one thing. When our leaders allow litigation to lead their paths, they should know they are constructing a route that generations after them would follow. Our children are learning from us and we would definitely see the growth of the seeds we are planting in them.
 
One can immediately sight some effects that this incident is likely to have on our younger brothers and sisters especially that this appears their first external examination considering the fact that many examinations would be sat through as they climb along. Some of these include the immediate social disorder, confidence in the individuals and the fear of facing the future.
 
The cancelation of five (5) papers has created some immediate disorder causing panic among the many students who sat for the exams. That is to be expected. Two days to the end of a period of examination only to note that the four papers written as well as the next to be written the following day was cancelled is enough to sweep away every student no matter the enthusiasm and confidence one possesses. What we witness was to be expected. The pandemonium across the country and especially from those who had access to the media was to be expected. 
 
This is equally an issue that can affect the confidence level of these students in the immediate and in the future. Having in mind the possibility of a paper cancelled would not get any student prepared well enough to sit for any paper. In the case I enumerated earlier, some of my colleagues expressed joy in the cancelation of the paper we sat recently because they claimed they were not fully prepared on the day it was written for the first time. As to whether they were prepared the second time, the results would determine.
 
Going forward, these students, especially those who genuinely prepared for these papers may be psychologically pushed into not trusting the future. One may be forced to downplay this but is a reality that must be considered critically. Whereas one could prepare without knowing of the possibility of arranging for an easy way, this would always keep them looking for quick ways out from their colleagues and even people on charge. 
 
Modern technologies require modern measures in dealing with some of these challenges. I was really amazed as some parents called for investigation so schools sighted would have their papers cancelled. What came in my mind was, how possible could it be to determine who has had access to a leaked paper in this era of WhatsApp and the likes which has made the sharing of such information much more easier? As a matter of fact, on the Monday the examination started, I read on the Facebook wall of a gentleman whose name I cannot recall, calling on WAEC to take steps to cancel the Ghanaian language paper especially Twi for what he classified as a compromised paper which was flying all over social media. Being realistic, you would ask yourself, at that moment, how possible could it be to identify the beneficiaries? 
 
Then others started calling on the head of WAEC Reverend Olenu to be relieved of his post. As stated early on, we saw the leakages of WAEC papers in 1965, 1983, 1996, and in 2002 before the latest in 2015. In the four preceding cases, Reverend Olenu was not at post. Would his stepping out of office solve that problem? What we should be looking for is how to get this problem solved once and for all.
 
I read in one of the news portal of a parent who stated that he paid Ghc200 through the son for examination as was demanded by the school. Would we boldly take away the schools from such blames?
 
I have been told of some phenomenon in which some schools depend on others who starts their papers earlier for questions so they could brief their students before they finally sit for the papers. We cannot claim innocence. We cannot point figures when we are deeply in it. 
 
We may appear to forget this issues by the time our students are to write their next BECE as is typical of us without seeking any cogent steps at remedying the situation. Then we may begin calling on the Minister of Education to resign as we are seeing today. 
 
What would be the way forward? Would the extention of rights to conduct examinations to other bodies as done in Nigeria be the best for us? Is it a matter of building capacity of WAEC so they could print papers from their own office instead of using printing presses outsides its premises if that is the case? Is the solution in sacking Reverend Olenu? After him, what would the next head of WAEC be required to do? 
 
I would not proceed to answer these questions. I would leave the discussion here just so we can all join in it with an attempt to seek answers to the questions I raised as well as the many questions that are on your mind. 
 
God bless our homeland Ghana
Written by:
 
Stephen Kwabena Attuh - ASK