The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), a non-profit-making organization, with its headquarters in Accra, Ghana, was established in 1952 after the Governments of Ghana (then Gold Coast), Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia enacted the West African Examinations Council Ordinances in 1951.
Liberia became the fifth member of the Council in 1974. The enactment of the Ordinances was based on the Jeffrey Report, which strongly supported the proposal for the setting up of a regional examining board to harmonize and standardize pre-university assessment procedures in the then British West Africa.
The main objectives of the Council are:
- To conduct examinations in the public interest
- To award certificates, provided that the certificates did not represent lower standards of attainment than equivalent certificates of examining authorities in the United Kingdom.
CONVENTION ESTABLISHING THE COUNCIL
The Council celebrated its 30th anniversary in March 1982 in Monrovia, Liberia during which the Convention establishing the WAEC was signed. The Convention was subsequently ratified by member Governments and came into force in August 1984.
The Council under the Convention was inaugurated in March 1985. The Convention now gives uniform legal backing to the operations of the Council in all the member countries, makes provision for significant changes in the structure of the Council and gives it legal personality as an international body. A Headquarters Agreement signed with the Government of Ghana in 1987 confers certain privileges and immunities on the Council’s Headquarters in Ghana.
To be a world class examining body, adding value to the educational goals of its stakeholders.
To remain Africa’s foremost examining body, providing qualitative and reliable educational assessment, encouraging academic and moral excellence, and promoting sustainable human resource development and international co-operation.
- Team work
STRUCTURE OF THE COUNCIL
The West African Examinations Council operates along a committee structure, which is very unique and is one of its greatest strengths. This structure is made up of several International Committees as well as strong national ones in each country. The structure makes it possible for each member country to participate fully at all levels in the work of the Council. The members of the various committees are drawn largely from educational institutions in the member countries.
(1) International Committees
The International Committees deliberate upon matters affecting all member countries and co-ordinate and harmonize national views in determining policies affecting the Council as a whole.
(2) National Committees
National Committees deal with matters relating to their respective countries and serve as fora for the articulation of national views on issues affecting the policy of the Council as a whole.
FUNCTIONS AND SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC
Since its inception, WAEC has been responsible for the conduct of most of the national and international examinations at the pre-tertiary levels in Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. The national examinations are restricted to candidates of the specific country for which they are developed and they reflect local policies, needs and aspirations. The international examinations, on the other hand, are meant for candidates in all the member countries in the context of regional co-operation.
In Ghana, The West African Examination Council conducts the terminal examinations for all pupils and students at the pre-tertiary levels of education. The Council’s examinations also serve as selection tests for progression from one level to the other in the country’s educational structure up to the tertiary level. The results of the Council’s examinations are used for direct entry into all tertiary institutions in Ghana.
Initially candidates in Ghana and other West African Countries received tuition and instructions based on syllabuses that had been developed along the lines of the educational structures of the United Kingdom. The WAEC was an agent for the conduct of the Ordinary Level and Advanced Level examinations of the General Certificates of Education of the University of London and the School Certificate and Higher School Certificate examinations of the Cambridge Examinations Syndicate in addition to the examinations of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA).
Over the years the Council has developed syllabuses that address the manpower requirements of its member countries and has completely taken over the conduct of examinations in collaboration with these external examining bodies.
EXAMINATIONS CONDUCTED BY THE GHANA NATIONAL OFFICE
(1) Major Examinations
The Ghana National Office of the Council conducts the following examinations for public schools on behalf of the Government.
- The Basic Education Certificate Examination for both School and Private Candidates
- The West African Senior School Certificate Examinations for both School and Private Candidates
- The Business Certificate Examinations made up of the General and Advanced Business Certificate Examinations for both School and Private Candidates
(2) Aptitude Tests
The Council administers customized aptitude tests upon request for the selection of applicants for
- admission into training institutions
- the award of scholarships
- employment purposes
(3) Miscellaneous Examinations
The Council conducts various examinations on behalf of the following foreign examining bodies such as the
- Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM)
- Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
- Association of Business Executives (ABE)
- Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS)
- Institute for the Management of Information Systems (IMIS)
- University of London International Programme
- Cambridge International College (CIC)
- Institute of Fire Engineers (IFE)
- London Centre of Marketing
- Paris Graduate School of Management (PGSM)
- Educational Testing Service
RESPONSIBILITIES OF NATIONAL OFFICES
Each National Office is responsible for:
- Developing syllabuses and tests for its national examinations
- Planning, administering and processing of the various examinations held in the country
- Ensuring that the decisions of Council and its Committees are implemented in the country
MAJOR OPERATIONAL PROCESSES
The core business of the Council may be broadly classified as follows:
- Pre- Examination activities
- Conduct of Examination
- Post -Examination activities
(1) Pre-Examination Activities:
- Syllabus development and review
- Test development
- Floating of examinations
- Receipt of entries
- Allocation of index numbers
- Designation of centres
- Printing and packaging of examination materials
- Briefing of examination administration personnel
- Distribution of examination materials
(2) Conduct of Examination
- Administration of the Tests
- Inspection of examination centres
(3) Post-Examination Activities
- Collection of scripts from examination centres
- Co-ordination and marking of scripts
- Script checking
- Processing of marks
- Standard Fixing and Award activities
- Investigations into examination irregularities and malpractice
- Release of results
- Issue of certificates
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