The West African Examinations Council is West Africa's foremost examining board established by law to determine the examinations required in the public interest in the English-speaking West African countries, to conduct the examinations and to award certificate comparable to those of equivalent examining authorities internationally.
By this mandate, the Council is expected to:
- assist in the development of sound education
- ensure that educational standards are maintain; and
- give the people of West Africa a vision of the great potentials which lie beyond examinations.
"To be a world class examining body, adding value to the education goals of its numerous stakeholders".
West Africa 's foremost examining body, developing and maintaining internationally-accepted procedures in examinations, providing qualitative and reliable educational assessment, encouraging academic and moral excellence among the youths, and promoting sustainable human resource development, mutual understanding and international co-operation.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COUNCIL
In 1948, the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate and the University of London School Examinations Matriculation Council discussed with the West African Departments of Education the future policy of school examinations as would be best suited to the needs of West Africa. Following this discussion, the late Dr. G. B. Jeffery, F. R. S., Director of the University of London's Institute of Education, was invited in October 1949 by the British Secretary of State for the Colonies to visit West Africa to study and advise on a "proposal that there should be instituted a WEST AFRICAN SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL"
After a three-month visit to West Africa, touring The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana (then called The Gold Coast) and Nigeria from December 1949 to March 1950, Dr. Jeffrey submitted a report (since then known as the Jeffery Report) strongly supporting the proposal for a WEST AFRICAN EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL and making detailed recommendations on the composition and duties of the Council. The report, published in March 1950, was adopted without reservation by four West African Governments and an ordinance establishing the West African Examinations Council as a corporate body was drafted by the West African Inter-Territorial Secretariat in consultation with the Governments. The ordinance was first passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Gold Coast in December 1951 as The West African Examinations Council Ordinance No. 40 of 1951 and was later made effective by similar enactments by the Governments of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia.
The Ordinances charged the Council with determining the examinations required in the public interest in West Africa and empowered it to conduct such examinations and to award certificates, provided that the certificates did not represent a lower standard of attainment then equivalent certificates of examining authorities in the United Kingdom.
A temporary office with a small staff headed by the late Mr. Kenneth Humphreys, the first Registrar to the Council, was set up at the offices of the West African Inter-Territorial Secretariat in Accra. Early in 1953, the Accra Office moved to a building near the former Department of Education on Rowe Road which the Gold Coast Government made available and a site for more permanent offices was secured at Achimota. Later in the year, the new office buildings at Achimota were occupied.
In Lagos, in the same year, the Government of Nigeria also made available a large block of offices at the Technical Institute, Yaba, which became the seat of the Deputy Registrar. In Sierra Leone and The Gambia, the Council, in the meantime, worked through the Departments of Education.
An office was opened in Freetown in 1958, the year in which the Council's London Office was also opened. The national office of the Council in The Gambia was opened in Banjul (then Bathurst) in January 1973.
The first meeting of the Council took place in Accra from the 24 th to 27 th March, 1953, It was attended by three nominees of the Secretary of State, namely the Chairman of Council, Mr. A. N. Glasworthy; the Chief Secretary of the West African Inter-Territorial Secretariat, Dr. G. B. Jeffery (representing the University of London); and the Secretary of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate Mr. J. L. Brereton (representing the University of Cambridge). There were in addition, 13 members nominated by the Governments of The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria, and ten (10) observers. The Council received from the Registrar a brief report of work done since his arrival and proceeded to establish five committees, namely, the Administrative and Finance Committee (initially called the Executive Committee), the School Examinations Committee, the Public Service Examinations Committee, the Professional, Technical and Commercial Examinations Committee; and the Local Committees (replaced in 1956 by National Committees).
Since then, the names of the committees have changed and new ones have been created. The Committees now include the Administrative and Finance Committee, the Appointments Committee, and the Examinations Committee at both the international and national levels. In each country, there is a National Committee to which all Local Committees report.
Liberia became the fifth member country when she was admitted into full membership of the Council at the 22 nd Annual Meeting held in Lagos in March 1974. Two year later, in April 1976, an office of the Council was established in Liberia and in January 1977 the Council moved into its permanent office in Monrovia.
In March 1982, a new legal framework for the operations of the Council was adopted. After over five years of preparatory work, the Convention establishing The West African Examinations Council was signed at an impressive ceremony coinciding with the Council's 30 th Anniversary celebrations and the Annual Council Meeting in Monrovia. The Convention, subsequently ratified by the member countries, came into force on August 24, 1984, with the depositing of the instruments of ratification of all member countries with the Government of Ghana. The Convention provides uniform legal backing to the operations of the Council in all the member countries and gives the Council legal personality as an international body. To take care of recent developments in the member countries, a process to revise the Convention was initiated at the turn of the century, and the Revised Convention was signed in June 2003.
In March 2002, the Council celebrated its 50 th Anniversary in Abuja, Nigeria, with the theme, "WAEC: 50 Years of Excellence". The highlight of the celebrations was the launching of the book on the history of the Council: "The West African Examinations Council (1952-2002): Half a Century of Commitment to Excellence and Regional Cooperation".
THE COUNCIL'S EXAMINATIONS
The Council conducts examinations under the following broad headings: National Examinations, International Examinations, and Examinations administered on behalf of other Examining Boards.
The National Examinations are restricted to the specific member countries for which they are developed and they reflect their local policies, needs and aspirations. The National Examinations include the Basic Certificate Examination for The Gambia, the Primary/Junior and Senior High School Certificate Examinations for Liberia, the National Primary School and Basic Education Certificate Examinations for Sierra Leone, and the Basic Education Certificate Examination for Ghana. The International Examinations, on the hand, are available to candidates in all the member countries. Currently, the Council's international examination is the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), which replaced the SC/GCE Ordinary and GCE Advanced Level examinations.
Detailed timetables are usually available at least six months before the commencement of the examinations. Traditionally, entry schedules are sent without application to all schools on the Council's list while individual entry forms are used for the private candidates' examinations. However, the traditional use of entry schedules/forms is being replaced by electronic registration of candidates.
The WASSCE was introduced as part of the educational reform programmes of member countries. The maiden edition was conducted in The Gambia in 1998 while Nigerian, Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian candidates took the examination for the first time in 1999, 2000 and 2006 respectively. The WASSCE is administered twice in a year, May/June and November/December. Liberia is currently preparing to adopt the WASSCE.
One unique feature of the WASSCE is it combines school-based continuous assessment scores with the Council's own terminal assessment scores on a ratio of 30:70. The WASSCE, among other things enables candidates to qualify for admission into university and other tertiary institutions.
In its endeavour to improve the process of conducting examinations in the member countries, the Council continues to use technology to its advantage. The WAECDIRECT RESULT HOSTING AND WEBSITE FACILITY was successfully implemented in 2003 and 2004 in Nigeria and Ghana respectively. This makes it possible for the results of the WASSCE for the two countries and also BECE for Ghana to be viewed on the following websites: www.waecdirect.org for Nigeria and www.waecdirectghana.org for Ghana . The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone are expected to have the facility soon.
In 2005, the Council again advanced its use of technology with the development and introduction of ON-LINE REGISTRATION in some of its examinations. This system enables schools to register their candidates themselves from their various locations through the Internet. Private candidates can also register online. With this facility, schools and candidates can verify their names and also obtain their examination numbers immediately after registration. Access in Nigeria and Ghana is through www.waeconline.org.ng and www.waeconline.org.ghana respectively. It is also being planned to make the facility available to candidates in The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone.