Teacher Kwame Alorvi tells of a sleepless night they spent wondering whether to follow their conscience and blow the whistle about concerns that their school was cheating or set to cheat in exams.
Read the details of the outcome of his research……
KWAMI ALORVI WRITES: WHISPERS AND WHIMPERS OF THE “AKUFO ADDO GRADUATES”, VICTIMS OF AN UNWHOLESOME PLOT OF EXAMINATION FRAUD?
Since my last two articles on the leaked 2020 WASSCE Integrated Science Paper dated Saturday 1st August 2020, and on the Chaos and Vandalism by Free SHS Students after the said paper dated Friday 7th August 2020, I have been inundated with phone calls and WhatsApp messages from teachers, managers of our Senior High Schools, concerned educationists at all levels, as well as parents. These calls and messages whispered and whimpered to me a seeming unwholesome plot by our Education Authorities and the Sub-regional Examination body to perpetrate examination fraud on our dear nation, Ghana. Co-opted into this unwholesome plot are two categories of the teaching fraternity: the first group of willing accomplices and a second group of unwilling collaborators made up of Headmasters, Assistant Headmasters in charge of the examinations, as well as invigilators.
Armed with these pieces of information, a small team of Researchers moved into action to unearth the plot.
Structure of our Investigation
- A team of twenty-seven Investigators comprising retired Heads of school retired SHS teachers, ex-officers of some security agencies, parents whose wards are part of the ongoing WASSCE, and some others whose identities cannot be disclosed here for obvious reasons, participated in the research.
- The research stretched across all the sixteen regions but as at the time of writing this article, reports came from eleven regions. Five regions are thus not covered in this report.
The research lasted for six days (10th to 15th August 2020).
- 2020 WASSCE candidates, Invigilators, Assistant Headmasters, Headmasters, parents, and non-teaching staff of the schools, were contacted either on phone or by one-on-one discussions.
- While it was easy engaging students in the day schools, it was a little difficult to contact students in the boarding schools. We were left with the impression that the reason for banning parents from visiting their wards in school when the SHS3 students returned to school was to suppress and conceal information on this plot to compromise the 2020 WASSCE, rather than the fear of the spread of COVID-19 by parents as we were told.
The team, however, managed to break the tight barrier though and had access to the candidates in the boarding schools.
For the day students, our investigators presented themselves as parents of their colleague candidates and wanted to find out how the exams were going for them.
Even though these students were not quite clear on the presence in their schools of “their colleagues” mentioned by “the parents”, they were willing to collect money and provisions on behalf of those colleagues to be given to them in school. Through this, the team was able to establish acquaintance with these students and they were willing to pour out their hearts to these investigators they took for parents. They mentioned names of the “good invigilators” who helped them to cheat as well as “the wicked ones” who refused to allow the fraudulent practices.
The Unwholesome Plot
The plot to assist students cheat in the examination was underpinned by two objectives.
The first was the apparent desire to present the fraudulent results to Ghanaians as proof of the much-touted propaganda that the quality of teaching has not been comprised of the double-track system.
The second motivation for the plot was for politicians to use the results as a campaign tool to influence the December 7 Elections in their favour. Fact be told, the 4more4Nana campaign largely hinges on the wobbling legs of the fSHS and everything is being done in this direction.
Some questions have reared their ugly heads begging for answers.
- Why were assistant headmasters in charge of the WASSCE summoned to meetings and asked to ensure that no student scores below 80% in the core subjects?
- Why were teachers of the Core Subjects – Mathematics, Integrated Science, Social Studies, and English Language – called into a meeting and given some topics to concentrate on while preparing the Akufo Addo graduates for their WASSCE? Maths and Science teachers for example were given ten topics each to concentrate on.
- Why were the core subject teachers assured that the 2020 WASSCE questions would be derived from those topics and the past questions gave them?
- Who gave these ten topics to Mathematics and Science teachers?
- Why were past WASSCE questions from 2013 to 2018 bought by the MoE/GES and supplied to students with marking schemes and Chief Examiners’ Reports?
- Why were the teachers trained at workshops by the MoE/GES and told that the 2020 WASSCE questions would be drawn from those past questions?
- Why was the supply of the past questions to students preceded by an announcement by no mean a person than His Excellency the President of the Republic, with a charge to candidates to study the past questions, pass the exams well and “shame the naysayers of the free SHS who claimed quality has been compromised.”
- Is it true that WAEC compromised on the 2020 WASSCE by adopting the questions set for the local WASSCE earlier mooted by the Minister of Education within the COVID uncertainty rather than adapting them, or presenting their own questions when plans for the local WASSCE changed to the usual sub-regional WASSCE with only Nigeria opting out?
- Why couldn’t WAEC contemplate that those questions meant for a local WASSCE would be leaked to students due to the special interest generated in this first batch of the free SHS students and the political capital that would be made out of it by politicians?
- Has WAEC changed the questions for the remaining papers or not, knowing that they will also be leaked just like the Integrated Science?
Answers to the above questions are fundamental in unraveling this unwholesome plot to unleash this gargantuan examination fraud on our dear nation.
Operations of the Accomplices and Collaborators
- Our research revealed that the willing accomplices are mainly party fanatics and sympathizers consisting of headmasters, assistant headmasters, and invigilators, who are ready to push through the seemingly subtle plans of the Education Authorities to assist the Akufo Addo Graduates to obtain good results in the 2020 WASSCE.
These invigilators and Assistant Headmasters in charge of the examinations are the most daring and notorious in the fraudulent deals, conscious of the fact that they enjoy the support and political protection from their political headmasters and the state. They are the ones who get the exam papers out of the examination rooms, work out the answers and send them back to students in the full glare of invigilators and supervising Assistant Headmasters, who look on helplessly. Invigilators who don’t want to cooperate are portrayed to students as wicked.
The invigilator caught by the Director-General himself in the Eastern Region and interdicted, falls within this category of willing accomplices. Speculations are rife that the said teacher would soon return to his job free from any sanction under the present dispensation.
Most teachers who act professionally have opted out of invigilation in their schools in order to avoid victimization by their political headmasters, and the wrath of their colleague willing accomplices and students. Some willing accomplices allegedly sat in the exam rooms and wrote the papers for some students.
These teachers, after receiving the practical papers to enable them to look for specimens and materials needed for the practicals, were also alleged to have taken money from their students and organized practical lessons for them on the same questions many days before these papers were scheduled to be written. Integrated Science and Agricultural Science featured prominently in these practical papers treated with students.
- The unwilling collaborators on the other hand are made up of two groups.
The first groups are invigilators and Assistant Headmasters, who, though not linked to the ruling party and are against the fraud, are not ready to stand their ground to prevent the cheating by students, and teaching of students by their colleague invigilators. They become unwilling collaborators for fear of being labeled as anti-free SHS and anti students. They also fear victimization by their political headmasters.
They thus stand aloof and watch students leave the exam halls to the washrooms to fetch the answers left there for them by the willing accomplices.
They also look on unconcerned when candidates exchange answers in the exam rooms contrary to the WAEC rules and regulations. They again allow the notorious and daring teachers to enter the exam rooms unimpeded to deliver answers to candidates.
The second category of unwilling collaborators is core subject teachers who were given areas or topics to cover and were assured the questions would be drawn from those areas. These teachers concentrated on those topics and the past WASSCE questions given them and assured students that the WASSCE questions would come from those areas. Their students were thus misled into focusing on some selected topics at the neglect of other important areas.
It was thus agonizing for these teachers to notice that the Integrated Science paper did not reflect the restricted areas they directed the students’ attention to.
A sense of guilt, betrayal, and deep sympathy fell on these teachers when they saw students (even the bright ones) weeping in the examination room. They could not resist the appealing eyes of these candidates in tears for help, and so had to undertake a rescue mission to save them from failing the paper.
They became unwilling collaborators not only to redeem their own image for misdirecting the students but also to avoid the possibility of being assaulted by aggrieved students after the paper. These teachers thus took part in working out the answers for these pathetic candidates. Most of such teachers expressed their regret for engaging in these exam malpractices due to circumstances beyond their control.
The face of the Malpractices
The exam malpractices took various forms in the schools.
- Answers were dictated to candidates by invigilators and teachers who were not invigilators. This is mostly in the case of objective tests.
- Invigilators gave answers to specific students including:
- a) Prefects whom the invigilators didn’t want to see fail the exams.
- b) Girls with whom teachers have some kind of relationship with.
- c) Other favorites who had assisted teachers in one way or the other.
The spread of the malpractices
- Our investigation revealed that the Big or grade A schools were not so much affected by this fraud. The cheating was endemic in the rural schools as well as some poorly endowed schools in the urban and peri-urban areas. It is widespread in all the eleven regions covered.
The integrity of the 2020 WASSCE.
In view of the above revelations, the 2020 WASSCE might go down in history as the most fraudulent examination in Ghana. It will lack the integrity required of an international examination if measures are not taken immediately to salvage the situation for the remaining papers.
The Core Mathematics paper is coming on tomorrow Monday 17th August, and the machinery to perpetrate fraud seems to be in high gear. In most of these schools, there are no police officers to police the centers and if there are, they have been compromised. Students are anxious for the usual good invigilators to assist them in tomorrow’s paper. And as long as these willing accomplices and unwilling collaborators don’t seem to be bothered about the harm they are causing to our education system and the future of Ghana, these fraudulent acts will continue unabated.
Until my colleague Headmasters keep subject teachers out of the examination centers or school premises on the days their papers are to be written, the nonsense will continue.
Until WAEC puts its feet down to punish schools that engage in these malpractices by withdrawing their examination centers and assigning them to other centers, the motivation to cheat will forever remain.
In effect our fraudulent exam regime is poised to churn out:
- a) Engineers who will build railway lines and floating bridges that will be washed away by floodwaters.
- b) Teachers that Minister Opoku Prempeh would insult as going to College with the worse results and thus compel them to write a teacher licensure examination to rectify the inadequacy his own system has produced in them.
- c) Nurses and Doctors that will administer to us the wrong medications when we report sick at the hospital.
To my fellow Heads of School and teachers engaged in this unprofessional conduct, I leave you with this quote from Professor Nana Jane Opoku Agyemang when she appeared on the KSM Show.
” I don’t go to battle when no war is announced. And when the war is announced, I choose my battles.”
No war has been announced for compromising the integrity of our SHS Examinations. Even if someone has announced such a war, please choose your battles by deciding which one is necessary to fight, and which one not to. Stop fraudulent practices now. These students will grow into discerning adults and hold you accountable for teaching them the wrong morals.
In conclusion, I ask Who are behind this unwholesome plot to unleash examination fraud on our dear nation in this 2020 WASSCE?
#I remain a Citizen, Not a Spectator
DATED: SUNDAY 16TH AUGUST, 2020