West African Examinations Council
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is a not-for-profit examination board formed out of the concern for education in Africa. Established in 1952, the council has contributed to education in Anglophonic countries of West Africa (Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia), with the number of examinations they have coordinated, and certificates they have issued. They also formed an endowment fund, to contribute to the education in West Africa, through lectures, and aid to those who cannot afford education.
Dr. Adeyegbe, HNO of WAEC Nigeria (2004) said "the council has developed a team of well-trained and highly motivated staff, and has administered Examinations that are valid and relevant to the educational aspirations of member countries". In a year, over three million candidates registered for the exams coordinated by WAEC. The council also helps other examination bodies (both local and international) in coordinating Examinations.
The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, University of London School Examinations Matriculation Council and West African Departments of Education met in 1948, concerning education in West Africa. The meeting was called to discuss the future policy of education in West Africa. At the meeting, they appointed Dr. George Barker Jeffery (Director of the University Of London Institute Of Education) to visit some West African countries, so as to see the general education level and requirements in West Africa. At the end of Jeffery's three month visit (December 1949- March 1950) to Ghana, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, he tendered a report (since known as Jeffery report) strongly supporting the need for a West African Examination Council, and making detailed recommendations on the composition and duties of the Council. Following this report, the groups met with the governments of these countries, and they agreed on establishing a West African Examination council, fully adopting Jeffery's recommendations.
The Establishment of the Council
The legislative assemblies of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia passed an ordinance (West African Examinations Council Ordinance NO. 40) approving the West African Examination Council in Dec 1951. The Ordinance agreed to the coordination of exams, and issuing of certificates to students in individual countries by the West African Examination Council. Liberia later issued their ordinance in 1974, at the annual meeting held in Lagos, Nigeria. After the success of forming an examination council, the council called a first meeting in Accra, Ghana on March 1953. In the meeting, the registrar briefed everybody about the progress of the council. In that same meeting, five committees were formed to assist the council. These committees are: Administrative and Finance Committee, School Examinations Committee, Public Service Examinations Committee, The Professional, Technical and Commercial Examinations Committee, and the Local Committee. The total number of people present for this meeting was 26.
Attendance of first meeting
Below is the list of people that were present during the first meeting held by the West African Examination Council.
- Mr. A. N Galsworthy (Chairman of the Council)
- George Barker Jeffery (Chief Secretary of the West African Inter-Territorial Secretariat)
- Mr. J. L. Brereton (Secretary of the Cambridge Syndicate)
- 13 members nominated by the governments of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia.
- 10 Observers, one of whom was Constance Rulka, who would later become the Chief Examiner, and, appointed Assistant Registrar of the West African Examinations Council, and put in charge of examinations in English at all levels in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
50th birthday celebration
On March 2002, the Council celebrated their 50th anniversary in Abuja, Nigeria. The theme of the Anniversary was "WAEC: 50 years of Excellence". All member countries joined in the celebration in their respective countries, apart from the general celebration in Abuja, Nigeria. During this anniversary the book, "The West African Examinations Council (1952-2002): Half a century of Commitment to Excellence and Regional Cooperation", was launched.
Structure of the Council
The West African Examination Council is notable to have a strong committee. The structure of the council is divided into three major parts: International committees, National Committees, and Subcommittees.
The International Committee treat matters affecting all member countries and also harmonizes national views pertaining to policies of the council as a whole. The National committees handle matters relating to specific member countries. It also assist in the articulation of national views on issues affecting the policy of the council as a whole. The Sub committees work on various aspects of the Council’s activities. The Finance committee for example is in charge of WAEC’s financial status. There are many sub committees, and they assist both the International and National committees.
The council conducts four different categories of examinations. They are International Examinations, National Examinations, Examinations conducted in collaboration with other examining bodies, and Examinations conducted on behalf of other examining bodies. The International exams are exams taken in the five countries with the WAEC ordinance. It consists of:
- WASSCE (West African Senior School Certificate Examination):
- SC/GCE O’ levels, and
- HSC/GCE A’ levels.
The National examinations are taken in individual countries. They include:
- the Junior Secondary School Certificate for Nigeria and the Gambia,
- Junior and Senior High School Certificate Examinations for Liberia,
- National Primary School and Basic Education Certificate Examinations for Sierra Leone,
- Basic Education Certificate Examinations for Ghana, and
- Senior School Certificate Examinations for Ghana.
The council also coordinates examinations in collaboration with some trustworthy examination bodies. These include:
The council also conducts examination in West Africa on behalf of international examination bodies. These include:
- University of London GCE
- Scholastic Aptitude Test and Graduate Record Examinations for Educational Testing Service, Princeton, USA, and
- JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board) examination in countries outside Nigeria.
The council issues credible and reliable certificates to candidates that participate in the Examinations. And the standard of this certificates matches with that of the United Kingdom. This is because the WAEC Ordinance empowered the council to conduct Examinations and award certificates, provided the certificates don’t have a lower standard compared to their equivalent certificates of examining authorities in the United Kingdom.
The Endowment Fund
A major achievement of the council, apart from several examinations it has conducted is the establishment of the Endowment Fund. The council created the Endowment fund in Monrovia, Liberia in 1982. It was established for two main reasons: to promote educational projects, and to give annual lectures.
So far, the educational projects have been on
- buying books for the less privilege. Like Mr. Saaka (2006) said "the decision to donate books was due to the poor performance of students.", and
- awarding students who perform excellently in their examinations.
WAEC awarded seven students that performed excellently in their 2004 SSCE. According to the report, the award was in two categories: distinction and excellence category, and the amounts ranged from $250–$550 alongside certificates of honor. This aspect of the project is meant to bring in competitions among students, in other to improve education.
The Endowment fund started giving lectures on March 1996. Below are the lectures and the names of the speakers.
- 1996 - "The Role of WAEC in the Promotion of Democracy, Sustainable Development and International Cooperation in West Africa" by Prof. E.A. Boateng of Ghana.
- 1997 - "The Dual Mandate: Teaching and Examining" by Prof. Eldred Jones of Sierra Leone.
- 1998 - "Not in Our Stars" by Prof. V. Chukwuemeka Ike of Nigeria.
- 1999 - "And Miles to Go Before I Sleep" by Dr. Lenrie Peters of the Gambia.
- 2000 - "Encourage the Best, Support the Rest" by Mr. Moore T. Worrel of Liberia.
- 2001 - "The Language Factor in Education- Teaching, Learning and Examining" by Prof. Florence A. Dolphyne of Ghana.
- 2002 - "Education for National Redemption" by Prof. J. A. Ayoade of Nigeria.
- 2003 - "The Role and Relevance of the West African Examinations Council within the Context of the Realities and Challenges of our Times" by Dr. M. B. Joof of the Gambia.
- 2004 - "Developing and Strengthening a Sustainable Modern Science and Technology Human Resource Base and Culture in West Africa" by Prof. Ernest H. M. Wright.
- 2005 - "Taking Stock of the Remnants after the Years of the Locust" by Monsignor Dr. Robert G. Tikpor
- 2006 - "Quality Assurance in Public Examinations" by Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah
- 2007 - "The Teacher in Leadership" by Prof. I.E.Nwana
- 2008 - "Enhanced Agricultural Education: An Inevitable Necessity for our Survival" by Rt. Rev. Dr.S. Tilewa Johnson
- 2009 - "Globalization and the Challenges for Education in a Post-Conflict Situation: A Sierra Leone Perspective" by Prof. Abdullah A. Mansaray
Mission of the council
Generally, the council have several missions, most of which is to maintain the standard they have achieved. The Missions of the West African Examination Council are:
- To maintain internationally accepted procedures
- To keep providing qualitative and reliable educational assessment
- To keep encouraging Students in getting academic excellence
- To keep promoting sustainable human resources development, mutual understanding and international cooperation.
Heads of Office
- The Gambia: Mr. E. M. S. Njie, B.Sc., Ed; M.Ed (Eval.) Ag. Head of National Office.
- Liberia: Mr. E.M. Lumei, B.Sc., M.Sc., M.A. Head of National Office.
- Ghana: Rev. J.A. Adotey, B.Sc. Head of National Office.
- Nigeria: Dr. Charles Eguridu, Ph.D. Head of National Office
- Sierra Leone: Mr. V.A.V. James, B.A. (Ed), M.Ed. Head of National Office.
- Dr. Adeyegbe, S. (2004). Retrieved April 12, 2006, from http://www.waecnigeria.org/home.htm
- Achievement of WAEC. (2004). Retrieved April 12, 2006, from http://www.ghanawaec.org/about3.htm
- Brief history of the Council. (2004). The West African Examinations Council Diary. Lagos. Academy Press Plc.
- History. (2004). Retrieved April 12, 2006, from http://www.waecnigeria.org/history.htm
- Committee structure of the Council. (2004). Retrieved March 27, 2006, from http://www.ghanawaec.org/about3.htm
- Exams. (2004). Retrieved April 12, 2006, from http://www.waecnigeria.org/exams_1.htm
- Overview. (2004). Retrieved April 12, 2006, from http://www.waecnigeria.org/overview.htm
- WAEC is determined to produce excellence in education. (2006 March). Ghana Agency. Retrieved March 27, 2006, from http://www.highana.com/hgsite/education/read_news.php?nid=6495
- Mr. Saaka, B. (2006 March). Retrieved March 27, 2006, from http://www.businessghana.com/portal/finance/index.php?op=getNews&news_cat_id=&i d=37791
- WAEC’s mission. (2004). Retrieved March 27, 2006, from http://www.ghanawaec.org/about2.htm