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Why I blocked WAEC website – Head, WAEC

Dr Iyi Uwadiae, Head of West African Examination Council, WAEC, was summoned to Abuja penultimate Friday by the Minister of State for Education, Barr Ezenwo Nyesom Wike to explain to journalists why the body pasted two different results for the May/June 2011 WAEC on their websites.

Favour Nnabugwu captured some of the explanations given by Uwadiae who accepted responsibility for the national error.

Excerpts:

The genesis  I am grateful to the Almighty God for using the honourable Minister of State for Education, Barr Ezenwo Nyesom Wike to give me the opportunity to explain to the world about what transpired in the West African Examination Council, WAEC result. I stand before you to say that it was the same procedure that we have always adopted that we adopted in the 2011 May/June WAEC Exam of which we released on the 10th of August 2011.

 

Our procedures are very simply, WAEC is only a coordinating body when it comes to conducting exams. The items writers are practising teachers; the moderators are practising teachers; the examiners that mark our scripts are practiing teachers; those that set our standards who come to advise us on performance of candidates and grades to be awarded are also practising teachers all over the subregion. They come together to tell what we should do after which we go back as coordinating unit to process the exams based on their advise to us.

Having done our grade award which is the last of the procedures, we then released the result on the 10th of August 2011. We did that in less than 48 hours and we posted the result on the website and at that point, we did mention that we encountered some problems because we could not release the result 100 percent.

Again, we explained why we could not release the result 100 percent due to candidates who could not either complete the exams process correctly or some that could not upload their photographs and some others that used wrong information.

And for that, we were unable to have a complete data base for those candidates. If we do not have a complete date base of a candidate, we cannot release his/her result. Those were the few that were left and we did explain to the public then.

During the process of writing the exams, some of those candidates that wrote incomplete names; incomplete examination numbers and those that did not shade the objective answer sheets properly…. Those problems got to WAEC and we did what we called resolution of queries. As we do resolution of queries, we release the result hence the first batch of the result released by WAEC was on August 10, 2011, subsequently we went back to resolve the queries.

Those candidates that we could find out their score, that we could identify their names, we go to look for their examination numbers and when we are convinced that they are another person’s scores, we then combine and do all that was needed to be done and go ahead to release the result by updating the one on the website.

Therefore, we on regularly basis update the results until we are able to release all the results that we can release. I am saying all the results that we can release in the sense that we still have very few that we cannot be released.

For instance, WAEC cannot conjure names and numbers of candidates that never gave their names or examination numbers. Such candidates’ results are lying in our offices because we cannot identify who those candidates, hence we cannot release their results. They are quite few.

WAEC updating and uploading

We have to update on regularly basis, so as not to delay any candidate’s result. If it was two candidates results we were able to resolve in a day, we make it a point of duty to update and upload them on the website to allow candidates have access to their results.

In the course of doing the updating and uploading on regular basis, something happened and l did not know, neither did my management staff know about it until that Friday, August 26th, 2011 when l received a phone call from a concerned parent at about 6.30 a.m asking me what happened to WAEC that his son got a result but that his son’s friend said there was another result different from what his son got and immediately l said, No, it could not happen.

I then asked for his son’s details after which l rushed to the website. It was then l discovered that there was indeed another result different from the one we had released on August 10, 201.

Though we are supposed to have another result in terms of the regular updates without affecting the grades but what l saw was another grades of result and l became worried at that point.

It was a crisis level. It could jeopardise candidates’ chances of admission if they have different results because if the candidates submit one result to the University of their Choice and the university finds out that the result submitted to them was quite different from the one they saw by themselves on WAEC website, that could mean trouble for such candidate.

The candidate would be taken to have forged result. In order to manage the crisis as there was no time for me to get back to the WAEC Registrar in Accra or WAEC Chairman as it was a crisis situation which could get even worse if there was further delay, l took an immediate decision by blocking WAEC website until preliminary investigation was done that day.

Preliminary investigation

I did preliminary investigations by asking questions and l discovered that whilst we were updating during the subsequent uploading, there was a problem caused by somebody yet to be identified. I am saying somebody yet to be identified because a panel is working on it.

Somebody perhaps used a wrong procedure. For instance, if one is typing and did not save, and there is a power surge, the possiblitiy of losing the unsaved file is very high and if you also saved an unedited work and edited that work without saving it, when there is a power surge, what you will find is the unedited work because the edited work was not saved.

There was a job done by WAEC which went through the quality control. We do not joke with quality control because we have a full department of quality control. The quality control at every point work on result and they must certify the result before we could go ahead to release it on our website.

The quality control went through the result but what then happened between the time the quality control did their own work and the time the other person yet to be identified posted the one that was not quality checked and uploaded it on the website is a mystery yet to unfold.

It was a human error, no doubt. It was not an issue of a hacker, neither is it an issue of WAEC staff trying to upgrade the scores of a candidate because what we observed cut across.

Investigating panel

I needed to get to the root of the whole thing because if we say we have controlled the situation today, it could happen tomorrow.

I have to know exactly what happened, what the cause was – Was it a programme error, or a system failure or as a result of incompetence or as a result of dereliction of duty? We want to know at what point the other result was pasted and at what point the other person who picked the unedited file uploaded it.

Those are the information that we need to know. Hopefully by Monday or Tuesday latest, the investigating panel will submit their result to me and l will forward the report of the panel with recommendations to the chairman who will discuss it with other members of the board. That is where we are.

The authentic result

The one we uploaded on the website on August 10, 2011 which we have been updating regularly is the authentic result. What is on the website presently is the certified result. The other one was done in error for which we apologized. As the leader of the team, l take full responsibility and l apologize to the nation that it was done in error and it was not deliberate.


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