70th Annual Meeting Of The West African Examinations Council, WAEC On 15/03/2022

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Video Transcript






Let me begin by bringing the very warm felicitations of President Muhammadu Buhari who would have been here himself but asked me to represent him. Also, to say I am here in my own personal capacity because I’m a teacher and, of course, I am interested in the affairs of WAEC.


I am delighted to be here with you on this auspicious occasion of your annual meeting and the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the West African Examinations Council. I am pleased that Nigeria is the host of this very special meeting—The Platinum Anniversary of the Council.


Please accept our heartfelt congratulations on seventy exceptional years of service to education in our subregion. Currently, more than 90% of educated adults in the English speaking West African countries are products of WAEC, one way or the other.


WAEC deserves commendation for being the only sub-regional organisation established in the Colonial era in Anglophone West Africa that has not only survived the pull of the centrifugal forces of the post-independence era but has also continued to wax stronger.

But WAEC’s contributions go beyond that of just being an examination body to that of promoting sustainable human resource capacity, integration and cooperation of West African States. And in these past seventy years, WAEC has shown its resilience by the challenges that it’s has faced and has faced it forthrightly, resolving issues for example examination malpractice and evolving steadily and confidently into a more technology-driven organisation.


With seventy years behind us, it is now time to begin to prepare for the next 70 years. It is clear that these coming decades will come with vastly different challenges and opportunities. There are at least three issues that present new challenges and of course opportunities.


The first is the African Continental Free Trade Area and its implications for the growth of institutions. The second is the WAEC curriculum, teaching and examinations relevant to 21st century needs. The third issue is the role of technology in the work of WAEC.


Beginning with AfCFTA, our continent is evolving right before our eyes. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is an ambitious trade pact to form one of the world’s largest free trade areas by bringing together almost 1.3 million people across all 54 African countries and aiming to create a single market for goods and services in order to deepen the economic integration in Africa.


What it means is, of course, there is room for greater reach and expansion for regional organisations like WAEC, just following the trail of AfCFTA.


The second is the huge changes to how we work, how we do business and live in the global economy that is the reality of the 21st century. With amazing advances in technology, talent is more mobile, and there is greater competition for well-trained, innovative and resourceful human capacity.


The 21st-century economy requires a different skill set – the skill set that involves problem solving and innovation. These are key requirements for relevance and employability in the 21st century.


So, what should WAEC do? Let me digress a little here. A while back I saw on Facebook, an interesting video of a teacher who explained so eloquently the difference between the teaching of the WAEC curriculum and the IGCSE, the teaching of that curriculum. And she gave an example, she said if in a year seven Geography class the topic is the solar system, the class teacher teaching the WAEC curriculum would come to the front of the class, write the topic and perhaps objective of the class and then write notes, explain to the students that there are 8 planets in the solar system. At the end of the class, the teacher may ask how many planets there are in the solar system?


But the teaching of the IGCSE is different. First, the teacher lets everyone, all the students know that there are 8 planets, then divides the class into 8 groups, each group will be given a planet to research on and at the end of the research, each group makes a presentation to the whole class. The advantage of this method is obvious.


First, the students do the research which improves their digital literacy for a start. Second, they learn to collaborate which is critical to innovation and they choose the mode of their presentation to the class which is very important because that would involve creativity and imagination. They may choose to present with a song or a poster, or a drama piece. All of these involves creativity and imagination.


The essential difference is that whereas the teaching and delivery of WAEC school certificate, for example, encourages learning by rote, the IGSCE incorporates the teaching of core skills or deep learning skills as they are described today – critical thinking, creativity, imagination, problem-solving skills, and collaboration.


These are the essential skills that young people need today to be competitive and prepared for life and work in a global economy. So it seems to me that in the next few years, WAEC’s curriculum and examinations and the teaching must be designed to test for and support these core skills. And of course, with the successes that WAEC has experienced and demonstrated in the past 70 years, they are adapting to these new ways of thinking, which shouldn’t present any problem at all.


This is Africa that WAEC must prepare our children for. An Africa, that will need world-class young people who have strong interpersonal, innovative, entrepreneurial, critical and creative thinking skills amongst others.


I think it is also crucial that WAEC must continually embrace technology, there is no option today. And We must commend WAEC  again for the technological innovations it has implemented so far, which includes biometric verifications, online registration, computer-based tests (CBT), and of course, digital certification which has been mentioned already. However, we can and must go further.


A key aspect of technological advancement in examinations that WAEC must commit to implementing is online examinations, which speaks to exams conducted remotely on a computer with high-speed internet. The issue here obviously is the infrastructure that is required for that, high-speed internet, of course, means that we must have a digital infrastructure that can carry this type of innovation we are talking about which is the business of the government and private sector.


But we must begin to think along these lines, a shift from offline to online examination that has immense advantages, of course, it will reduce the current overall logistics costs, break geographic barriers, enabling a wider reach and participation. People from different parts of the world will be able to do this online examination, provide real-time analytical and assessment reports to examiners and candidates and of course further curb the menace of examination malpractices through AI-based proctoring technology and all manners of innovation that are now important in checking examination malpractices.


Another technological innovation is the On-Screen marking and I am told that already quite a bit of that is been done or sometimes called Digital Evaluation – a method of marking paper-based candidate responses using a computer. As I said, I am told WAEC is currently implementing some aspects of it. This technology enhances the quality of evaluation of descriptive answer scripts within a transparent, secure and efficient framework. So, I think that these are innovations that would need to engage in the next few years.


In any event, whether we like it or not, innovation will catch up with us and innovation is the way to go. The direction the world is moving in is such that we have no choice but to follow suit.


It is clear that the future of all our institutions including WAEC will depend on how well they embrace technological innovations and their ability to reinvent ourselves in this ever-changing world. WAEC has shown through the years that it has the capacity and dynamism to evolve and remain relevant.


So, on behalf of the Government and the Citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I reaffirm our support for the West African Examinations Council and also extend our warm felicitations, particularly to our brothers and sisters from the four (4) other member countries – Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia – who are attending this ceremony virtually.


Mr. Chairman, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I now formally declare open the 70th Annual Meeting of the West African Examinations Council.


I wish you successful deliberations.


Thank you and God bless.