Visually impaired candidates writing this year’s May/June West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) have appealed to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to level the playing field for all candidates, irrespective of their conditions.
They pointed out that the two papers they had written so far revealed that some of the questions were not in braille and they had to wait for a resource person to get a copy of the question paper to read out to them before they could continue.
Un-braille question papers
Speaking at the Okuapeman Senior High School (SHS) at Akropong, the candidates said, for instance, that during the Social Studies paper, there were no braille questions from numbers 25 to 33, while in the Literature-in-English paper, questions 31 to 36 were not in braille.
“Fortunately for us, those questions that did not appear were very simple and had it not been the resource person who intervened, we would have lost those marks.
“As students, we would like to use this forum to urge WAEC that if it is dealing with us as an examination body, it should deal with all candidates and not discriminate in the course of its duties,” one of the students told the Daily Graphic.
They recommended to WAEC to contact the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) for “qualified personnel to handle our papers”.
Plight of past candidates
They recalled how their seniors had been unfairly treated, citing, for instance, that when the 2014 WASSCE results were released, some of the best candidates in the school scored E8s and F9s, “but when they called for re-marking, they had A1s”.
The candidates said it was clear that WAEC did not mark the papers before awarding the marks, stressing that this year “we are not going to tolerate that because we know what we are doing and we believe in ourselves”.
In a related development, the Ghana Blind Union (GBU) has expressed concern over the way WAEC was handling visually impaired candidates who are writing the WASSCE.
The union disclosed that over the years, WAEC had failed to provide the appropriate answer booklets, even though the candidates paid examination fees just like their sighted mates who were given answer booklets.
Blind Science candidates
The Executive Director of the GBU, Dr Peter Obeng-Asamoa, said, for instance, that eight visually impaired Integrated Science students who registered for the WASSCE would have to wait for the November/December examination because WAEC failed to provide them braille question papers.
He said five of the affected students are from the Adidome SHS, while the remaining three are from the Mawuli SHS, both in the Volta Region, saying they had developed the interest in the sciences following a STAR-Ghana intervention.
The blind are special
“The GBU wishes to remind WAEC that these are special persons and, therefore, must be given special attention. We are concerned not because we doubt the ability of WAEC to govern the examination situation properly but because there have been too many disturbing experiences in the past.
“The GBU wishes to petition WAEC to ensure that this year all examination procedures, especially the provision of braille question papers and timely and accurate release of results, are handled with the seriousness they require,” he added.
However, WAEC explained that its attention was yet to be drawn to the concerns, saying if they turned out to be true, it would “apply clemency to the affected candidates to ensure that they are not disadvantaged”.
The Principal Public Affairs Officer of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, said investigations would be conducted and if the report turned out to be true, the necessary action would be taken, adding that the supervisor at the examination centre would have to submit a report on the issue.
On the Integrated Science candidates, she explained that in the past the visually impaired did not write Integrated Science and Mathematics, “and that has been the trend, but this year we were informed that visually impaired candidates would be writing but I believe there were some lapses somewhere on the part of WAEC”.
“So we duly apologise to the candidates and are arranging for them to write the papers in November/December,” she said.
Touching on the number of visually impaired Science candidates, Mrs Teye-Cudjoe said as far as WAEC was concerned, it was aware of three such candidates at the Adidome SHS and not Mawuli SHS.
Concerning large-screen printing of examination papers, she explained that the important thing was for the schools with such candidates to report to WAEC to enable it to prepare adequately for them.