Technological innovations in view as WAEC hosts Africa assessment summit

Agency attributes success to expanded subjects, staff multi-tasking

Director of Works, Dr. O.F. Dacosta (left), Head, WAEC Nigeria, Olu Adenipekun, Director of Admin, Y.D. Ari, and Director of ICT, M.O. Omoregie, during a news briefing in Lagos to announce the forthcoming annual conference of AEAA…Thursday

The forthcoming summit of the Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) will explore the deployment of technological innovations in the conduct and assessment of examinations, among others, as the Nigerian office of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) hosts delegates from across the globe.

This is as WAEC Nigeria has attributed its successes in the conduct and prompt release of results of the May/June examination to its multi-tasking of members of staff, the use of technology, and the multiplicity of exam subjects, which has given students a wide option than the usual eight.

Unveiling plans for the 37th annual conference of the AEAA, to be hosted by WAEC Nigeria in Abuja from August 5 to 9, Head of the Nigerian Office, Mr. Olu Adenipekun, said disclosed that about 96 academic papers would be discussed at the conference.

Stating that continuous deployment of technology in public examinations is imperative for the organisation to continue delivering on its mandate, Olanipekun expressed optimism that the place of technology in the education sector would be strongly discussed at the conference.

According to him, organisations from the United States (U.S), United Kingdom (UK) and even Nigeria have already made presentations and will be coming with “technology, equipment with innovations that will have positive impact that will bring about ‘disruptive impact’ on the education sector in Nigeria.

“We are expecting that many burning issues would be brought up, but one thing that is also very critical is how we can deploy technology in the conduct of public examinations in Nigeria to ensure that the integrity of our examinations and certificates are not compromised by the negative deployment of technology.”

More so, notable academics, examination bodies and educational experts from across the world, including primary members of EAAE drawn from educational evaluation and assessment bodies in Africa, would be at the event, while “new things are to be expected, in terms of innovations and technology.”

These include UK firms coming with scanners, as well as tracking devices “that could be used to dispatch parcels from one location to the other, and putting that location and the handler on the radar,” he said.

He explained that “the purpose of the assessment is to bring together experts, who come prepared to put issues on the table, review the activities of the various institutions and organisations that have interest in education and educational assessments.

“In doing that, new ideas will be brought onto the table, old ones reviewed, and the re-engineering of processes and procedures will be given a critical look and assessment. It is also an opportunity for the examining bodies to reassess themselves, and get other people, too, to assess them as far as their activities and operations are concerned.”

Meanwhile, Olanipekun said that WAEC Nigeria members of staff earlier in his tenor agreed to cure themselves of “paradigm paralysis,” adding: “Staff morale was critically examined and improved upon, and we all came together as a single family and realised the need to serve the Nigerian child better, and to continue to improve on our deliverables to the nation.

“The next thing was to look critically at the principles of multi-tasking. As an organisation with years of experience and expertise, we should continue to multi-task on our activities. And so, as we conduct exams, we do other things leading to the marking of scripts, and as we mark, we are also capturing data being generated.

“As they are being generated, they are being transmitted into our database, and as we are doing that, processing of results was also going on, so by the time we finished everything, we were ready with the results. We also used technology to overwhelm the task to hasten what we do.

“So it became very easy for us to conduct our exams on the field, have three times online reports on the conduct of the exam, capture whatever was happening on the field, transmit them into our own data, produce the data at our own end, and then continue to see how we can improve on what we do.

On candidates’ performances, he applauded the creation of 73 subjects rather than constraining students to just a few, and “this expansion has brought about certain subjects that caught the interest of the students, and many of them are doing very well in exam. That made it possible for them to earn five credits, including English Language and Mathematics.

“This is about the seventh year that these new subjects were introduced, and as they are getting mature, having more textbooks and more teachers; candidates developing more interest and the teachers getting more vocational and expertise in those areas, these have impacted positively on the performances of the students.”

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