Only Ghanaian candidates are left to write the West African Senior High School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), scheduled from August 1 to September 27, 2022.
This is because the other four-member countries of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) — Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia — have returned to the May/June calendar and had administered the WASSCE for their school candidates from May 9 to June 24, this year.
The four countries have had their academic calendars streamlined to enable them to write the examination in May/June, as Ghana sticks to the ‘new normal’ calendar occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Notwithstanding the late sitting, Ghanaian candidates will still compete for the National Distinction Award and the WAEC Excellence Award with candidates from those countries.
“Our candidates will still compete for the National Distinction Award and the WAEC Excellence Award, which is normally competed for by all candidates in the five-member countries,” the Head of the Ghana National Office of WAEC, Wendy Enyonam Addy-Lamptey, said.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Graphic, Mrs Addy-Lamptey explained that because candidates in the country started their academic year on February 7, this year, as a result of the new semester system, they were unable to subscribe to the examination.
She explained that considering the beginning of the 2022 academic year, the time was too short for the candidates to write the WASSCE in May/June.
“The time was too short and the candidates would not have adequately prepared for the examination and so the Ministry of Education requested that it be conducted for them in August and September 2022.
“Following from that, Ghanaian candidates will write a Ghana-only version of the WASSCE for School Candidates, starting from August 1 and ending on September 27,” she explained.
Mrs Addy-Lamptey observed that rogue website operators and scammers had already obtained snapshots of past question papers for WASSCE 2022 administered in the other member countries and were using those snapshots to advertise their websites.
“Some have requested candidates to register by paying a fee. We want to inform our publics that the examination being conducted has totally different questions/parallel questions from the papers written in the other member countries,” she emphasised.
The Head of the National Office of WAEC, however, added that the questions would certainly be of the same difficulty level and gave an assurance that “all post-examination arrangements will be handled internationally”.
“For example, the Standard Fixing and Grading Awards meetings will have representatives from the five member countries,” she explained.
A total of 422,883 candidates from 977 schools registered for the WASSCE after the extended closing date of April 8, 2022.
The entry figure included 72 candidates with visual impairment, made up of 39 males and 33 females, as well as 14 candidates with hearing impairment.
Mrs Addy-Lamptey explained that 60 subjects, comprising four core and 56 electives, would be administered to prospective candidates.
“In addition to the four core subjects that all candidates write, candidates have the option to select up to a maximum of four elective subjects from the seven programmes offered in senior high schools,” she further explained.
She explained that the council utilised dedicated facilities (depots) for the storage of confidential materials in the various communities, and gave an assurance that “such facilities have been inspected and the necessary fortification and refurbishment works are being done to ensure that they meet the security requirements”.
“This year, the number of depots has been increased to reduce the time taken in moving the question papers from the depots to the examination centres, pushing the depots closer to the examination centres,” she disclosed to the Daily Graphic.
The Director-General of the Ghana Educative Service (GES), Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, also in an interview, explained that the country was doing a period of recovery learning and could not, therefore, return to the May/June timetable immediately.
He explained that Ghana was particular about contact hours for candidates and could, therefore, not return to the May/June period promptly, considering the time the 2022 academic year began.
He explained that when Ghana changed from the single track to the double track, “we made sure that we did not lose contact hours, so we calculated the number of contact hours that had to be done within a given year”.
“So, for a given year, the calculation was that we were going to do 1,134 contact hours. So immediately after the COVID-19, what we did was that we needed to go back to do that calculation, and when we ran the numbers, we realised that the earliest time we could do the examination again was some time in August and September,” he explained.
“However, the other countries, irrespective of whatever, decided to go ahead of us. They reopened schools much earlier than February, and immediately after the examination in 2021, they reversed to the old system. But we used our recovery period and then our contact hours to do our calculation,” Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said.
In 2020, the global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced member countries of WAEC to shift the WASSCE from May/June to July 20 to September 5, 2020, and in 2021 the examination was administered from August 16 to October 8.
After 2021, all the other member countries made efforts to streamline their academic calendars to return to the May/June calendar for the examination.