Stakeholders storm Abuja for WAEC Diamond Jubilee celebration

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WAEC Diamond Jubilee celebration
WAEC Diamond Jubilee celebration

Chairman of council, Prof Redwood-Sawyerr assisted by Alhaja Bello, Mrs. Mabel Ozumba and HNO WAEC Nigeria, Dr. Uwadiae, cutting the 60th anniversary cake PHOTO: THE SUN PUBLISHING

There is no doubt that the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has come a long way since its inception in 1952 and remained the only surviving institution in the sub-region established in pre-independence West Africa. Thus activities to mark its 60th anniversary which kicked off on March 16 were opportunity for member countries to celebrate the milestone.

For 60 years, according to the Registrar to Council, Alhaja Mulikat Bello, WAEC has remained one of the most credible and strongest chords that bind together the five English-speaking member countries and also remained the bridge that links the education sector of the member countries.

On March 26 to 30, the five member countries from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, stakeholders including the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, former Head of State, Chief Ernest Shonekan, Minister of Education, Prof. Ruqayyatu Rufa’i and the Minister of State for Education, Chief Ezenwo Wike, two former education commissioners, Prof. Ngozi Osarenren and Dr. Veronica Ogbuagu, chief government nominees of member countries, former senior management staff as well as the five Heads of National Office (HNO) gathered in Abuja to pop champagne for WAEC at 60. International Excellence and National awards were bestowed on candidates who distinguished themselves in the May/June 2011 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

At the same august occasion, the prestigious award of Distinguished Friend of Council was conferred on two eminent Nigerians, former First Lady and Head of National Office (HNO), Chief Margaret Shonekan and former member of council, Prof Ifedioramma Nwana, for their contribution to the success of the work of WAEC. It was also an occasion for intellectual reflection through lectures, with Prof. Pius Obayan, on the first day of the celebration, delivering the 17th Annual Endowment Fund lecture titled, “Nipping educational failure in the bud”.

On the second day of the event, three candidates were bestowed with the International Excellence Award for their outstanding performance in the 2011 WASSCE. They include Ann Abena Sakyi from Ghana who won the first prize by making A1s in eight subjects namely English Language, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Social Studies and Integrated Science. The 19-year-old former student of Wesley Girls’ High School, Accra who was the star attraction at the event received a standing ovation on being presented with her plaque by the Vice-President, Sambo and education minister, Prof Rufa’i. Ann is currently studying Medicine at the University of Ghana.

The second position went to another Ghanaian candidate, 18-year-old Hameed Irbaz, who, like Sakyi, also made A1 in eight subjects namely: English Language, Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Social Studies and Integrated (but with lesser aggregate scores than the first winner). He is also currently reading Medicine in China.The third place went to 18-year-old Christianah Adeloye, from Ilesa,Osun State who likewise recorded A1s in eight subjects, just like the first two winners, though with lesser aggregate scores. The subjects in which she recorded A1 were Economics, Geography, English Language, Yoruba Language, Mathematics, Agricultural Science, Biology and Physics.

Aside the presidential handshake, Miss Ann received the Augustus Babdele Oyediran award for being the best candidate out of 1, 741,451 students that sat for the school exam in the five member countries while she and Hameed Irbaz, a Pakistanian national who placed second received the Omo N’Oba Erediauwa trophy for being the best male and female candidates in the 2011 WASSCE.In a chat with Daily Sun, Ann attributed her success to personal determination, teachers’ inputs, parents’ support, conducive environment and proper focus, noting that “my parents have been supportive; they buy me books and learning materials. I am very happy to have made my country, Ghana, my parents and school proud.”

The father, Mr. Sakyi, said: “I am happy that all the efforts to buy her books have paid off; she attended public primary school.” Her mum, Mrs. Christy Sakyi who also was elated, recalled that Ann loved reading and was always ahead of others in the class and won several laurels.”The Head of National Office (HNO), WAEC Ghana, Mrs. Patience Ayesu, told Daily Sun that, “I feel good that two of the candidates are coming from Ghana. About 84 others met the criteria for the award. In 2009, only ten candidates qualified for consideration. 2011 WASSCE was better than 2010, we presented 149,175 candidates.”

Responding on behalf of the International award winners, Miss Ann, lauded teachers at their former schools for their contributions towards the success, stressing that “it is the beginning of many things to come the way of the awardees.”Adding a presidential touch to the Diamond jubilee celebration, President Goodluck Jonathan, who declared open the 60th Annual Council meeting, described WAEC as a major vehicle for regional integration and the beacon of hope for youths in the sub region.

The elated President congratulated WAEC on the Diamond Jubilee anniversary and observed that WAEC has not only been the only surviving institution established during the colonial rule but also remained as the beacon for youths in West Africa.According to Jonathan, WAEC deserves commendations for keeping the dreams of its founding fathers alive and assured the member countries of his administration’s commitment to achieving the vision of WAEC which he said has continued to play a leading role in the conduct of examinations for youths in the sub-region.

He argued that WAEC must be given credit because 90 per cent of people in West Africa passed through its examination and used the occasion to appeal to political leaders in the sub-region to pursue issues that would enhance regional integration.The outgoing Chairman of Council, Prof. Jonas Redwood-Sawyerr, described Nigeria as an esteemed member of the WAEC family, noting that candidates from Nigeria account for over 80 per cent of the total candidature for the International examination each year. He disclosed that the federal government has fulfilled its financial commitments to the headquarters and the national office and also appealed to other member governments to remain committed to their obligations to WAEC.

The Registrar to the Council, Alhaja Mulikat Bello, described the meeting as a unique one because it coincided with the council’s Diamond jubilee celebration and stressed that “it is in recognition of the vital role of WAEC as a key player in the education sector that the governments of its five member countries have continued to extend their support, cooperation and goodwill to the council while at the same time discharging their financial and diplomatic obligations to ensure the continued existence of the organization.”Bello disclosed that council’s records showed the 2011 examinations were conducted without leakage of question papers in the five member countries but said other forms of exam fraud have persisted.

Her words: “I want to use this opportunity to appeal to all stakeholders in education in the member countries of WAEC to partner the council in fighting examination malpractice to a standstill. The council, on its part shall continue to be extra-vigilant at every stage in its process of conducting credible examinations in member countries and sharpen its established monitoring systems to detect and sanction examination impropriety in whatever form.”

She expressed her joy at the achievements recorded by WAEC in the past 60 years and stressed that “the modest successes recorded by the council have been facilitated by the understanding, support and encouragement which we received from the representatives of governments and other member countries. Our member governments have continued to strive hard to sustain WAEC and make it possible for the council to deliver quality service to its stakeholders.”

 

In : Education