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WAEC punishes AI-assisted candidates – Withholds WASSCE results

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The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has expressed worry over the rising incidence of examination malpractice in the country, with students faulted for generating artificial intelligence (AI) answers in the 2023 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

The Head of National Office of WAEC, Wendy Enyonam Addy-Lamptey, described the situation as unfortunate, stressing that the issue required thorough investigations to unravel the actors behind the malpractice.

She said per the nature of examination malpractice, the complicity of some school authorities, teachers and parents could not be ruled out.

“It is sad that the youth are being trained in this manner; some candidates are desperate to take their mobile phones into the halls to use artificial intelligence to answer questions,” Mrs Addy-Lamptey said at a day’s seminar in Accra.

Opening a one-day seminar on its laws and operations for Circuit Court judges and magistrates to bring them up to speed and help them to appreciate the laws, Mrs Addy-Lamptey said the current situation could not be allowed to fester.

Seminar

The seminar was organised on WAEC laws and operations for Circuit Court judges and magistrates to give candidates accused of examination malpractice a fair hearing.

It was also to bring them up to speed and to help them to appreciate the laws that govern examination malpractice, particularly in the age of AI.   

The topics addressed at the seminar included WAEC’s operational procedures, trends of examination malpractice and the WAEC Act, 2006 (Act 719).

It was organised in collaboration with the Judicial Training Institute. 

Malpractice

Mrs Addy-Lamptey explained that in the past seven years, a lot of examination-related legal issues had come up; hence, the need to engage the judiciary as a major stakeholder to ensure the integrity of the examinations.

Section 6 (b) and (c) of the WAEC Act 2006 (Act 719) states that “a candidate who, during an examination (a) is in possession of a textbook, electronic device or material in the examination room without lawful authority, proof of which shall be on the candidate; (b) copies from notes, electronic device or a textbook without lawful authority, proof of which shall be on the candidate, commits an offence and is liable to summary conviction to a fine of not less than 50 penalty units and not more than 100 penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.

“The person shall in addition be disqualified from taking the examination, and if the person has already taken a paper at the examination, the paper shall be cancelled by the council,” the Section further states.

Strategy

The seminar, she said, also formed part of WAEC’s five-year strategy to address issues such as giving persons alleged to have involved in exam malpractice a fair hearing and deterrent punishments for perpetrators, among other issues.

She added that operating within the legal framework could be frustrating for the council as hundreds of students were sometimes alleged to have compromised the integrity of the examination.

The seminar, she added, would afford the council the opportunity to operate more effectively within the law while minimising cost, saying the council was ready to be guided by the judiciary to ensure the integrity of examinations.

Withheld results

WAEC released the 2023 results of School Candidates in Accra last Monday, with the subject results of candidates from 235 schools withheld for allegedly using AI-generated answers during the examination.

WAEC further cancelled the subject results of 647 candidates for bringing foreign materials such as prepared notes, textbooks and printed materials into the examination halls.

Up to 839 candidates also had their results cancelled for possessing mobile phones in the examination halls, while the council also withheld the subject results of 4,280 candidates and the entire results of 1,005 for various suspected offences.

A statement issued by the council last Monday said the withheld results of the candidates might be released or cancelled depending on the outcome of investigations.

History

In 2021, the WASSCE subject results of 1,339 candidates were cancelled while 174 had their entire results cancelled.

In 2022, the WASSCE, 3,845 School Candidates had their subject results cancelled while 518 had their entire results cancelled.

In the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), 312 candidates had their subject results cancelled this year and 41 had their entire results cancelled.

SOURCE: GRAPHIC ONLINE