In a significant development poised to reshape the landscape of academic examinations in West Africa, the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has announced its intent to introduce Computer-Based Testing (CBT) for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
This pivotal move signifies a major departure from traditional paper-and-pencil exams and reflects WAEC’s commitment to embracing modern technology in education.
The Head of National Office (HNO), Mr. Patrick Areghan, unveiled this ambitious plan during an exclusive interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
As Mr. Areghan approaches the end of his three-year tenure, he highlighted the substantial progress achieved under his leadership, with the integration of CBT marking a pivotal moment.
Areghan articulated his vision for WAEC’s future, emphasizing the need to implement CBT while acknowledging the complex challenges associated with its implementation, particularly in practical and essay-based subjects.
He said that factors such as computer literacy, the availability of computer facilities, and consistent electricity supply in educational institutions present hurdles that WAEC is prepared to navigate.
The transition to CBT will commence with objective questions, with a strategic plan to gradually extend it to theory and practical examinations.
Recognizing that not all schools may be immediately prepared for this transition, Mr. Areghan suggested a segregated approach, allowing those schools without the means for CBT to continue using the traditional paper-and-pencil format.
Beyond CBT, Mr. Areghan envisioned a fully digitalized WAEC, with almost every aspect of the council’s operations already embracing digital technology under his leadership.
According to him, this vision encompasses digital certificates, result checking, and verification, offering candidates enhanced accessibility and convenience.
“I have almost digitalised everywhere now. Talk of certificate, checking of results and verification of results and more.
“I will live to see more massive deployment of technology so that the vision of council can change from just being a world class examination body to a technology-driven examination body.
“I also want WAEC to be more visible in the international stage. I want to see, through the cooperation of the sub region, how we can take WAEC overseas, that is, how Nigerian children in the diaspora can sit for WASSCE overseas.
“That, again, is what I want WAEC to do in the very near future. That is one thing I wanted to do under my watch, but, again like I said, it needs the cooperation of the sub region, not just Nigeria, to take WASSCE overseas.
“I also want to see its digital certificate that we have successfully launched in Nigeria replicated in the entire sub region, so that any candidate that has taken WASSCE, can be in any part of the world to access the digital certificate; that is a legacy.
In Mr. Areghan’s words, this digital certificate initiative is a legacy that will empower candidates to retrieve their certificates swiftly, even in cases of loss or damage.
As his tenure draws to a close, the transformation of WAEC into a technology-driven examination body stands as a testament to his dedication and forward-thinking leadership.