By Emmanuel Edukugho
French-speaking West African states may soon be admitted into membership of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), a regional organisation that conducts examinations for secondary school students in the five English-speaking countries of West Africa.
The Chairman of WAEC, Sierra Leonean-born Professor Jones Redwood-Sawyerr, said this on his first visit to Nigeria at the WAEC headquarters in Lagos, yesterday.
He added that WAEC wanted to hold true to its name as a sub-regional examination organisation by bringing into the fold Francophone states.
â€œWe will revisit our mandate and see how we can bring in the Francophone states as associate members,â€ he said.
Redwood-Sawyerr who is in Nigeria with the Registrar4, Alhaja (Mrs) Mulicat A. Bello, from the headquarters of WAEC in Accra, Ghana, noted that the challenges facing the council are awesome, and the responsibility enormous.
He commended high level of dedication of staff in upholding the mandate of WAEC and maintaining its integrity.
â€œEven as Deputy Vice Chancellor of Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone) which has only 4,000 students, I recognised the difficulties of running examinations. Then how much more WAEC in five countries, with Nigeria alone having over one million candidates. Itâ€™s an enormous task.â€
The chairman assured that in the next decades, WAEC will conduct leakage-free examinations , with technology as a crucial factor in checking malpractices.
â€œWe canâ€™t compromise our standard because of sentiment never not t compromise the values of WAEC. We have a sacred and sensitive responsibility which I want renege.â€
He told the cream of WAEC National office management staff and heads of divisions which included the HNO, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae that his strategies as chairman of council will be partnership, consensus, providing some leadership however, and consultation backed by the legal instruments which established WAEC since 1952.
Redwood-Sawyerr, who is the 16th chairman of the 57 year-old examination body promised to tackle issues of staff promotion movement and to use informal interaction if possible to reach out and know the staff.
He paid tribute to Nigeria, seen as a big brother, coming to help his country when in difficulty, saying, â€œNigeria is dear to us, and in a strategic position, and be grateful to Nigeria that democracy has come to Sierra-Leone.â€
Earlier the Registrar of WAEC, Alhaja M.A. Bello, in her remarks, pointed to the problems inherent in a body which conducts examination over one million candidates in Nigeria and people asking why students are failing WAEC, instead of thanking us for mirroring tot he Public what the education system is.
She said WAEC is committed to leakage-free examination and will maintain its new reputation.