The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) is an examination body responsible for conducting the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), a University entry examination in West African countries.
Established in 1952, the West African Examination Council has made a lot of contribution to education in Anglophonic countries of West Africa, including Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia.
It was established following a meeting in 1948 involving the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate, University of London School Examinations Matriculation Council and West African Departments of Education, a meeting held with regards to the future of education in West Africa.
During the meeting, Dr. George Barker Jeffery (Director of the University Of London Institute Of Education) was appointed to visit some West African countries. The aim was to get firsthand information on the general education level and requirements in those countries.
After three months visit to Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia Jeffery tendered a report (since known as Jeffery report) strongly supporting the need to establish a West African Examination Council.
Following this report and Jeffery’s recommendations, the groups reached an agreement with the governments of these countries, to establish a West African Examination Council.
After the agreement, the legislative assemblies of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Gambia passed an ordinance (West African Examinations Council Ordinance NO. 40) approving the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in Dec 1951.
The ordinance agreed to the coordination of exams, and issuing of certificates to students in individual countries by the West African Examination Council. Liberia later issued their ordinance in 1974 during the annual meeting held in Lagos, Nigeria.
After successfully establishing an examination council, the council called a first meeting in Accra Ghana on March 1953. The progress of the council was discussed at the meeting while five committees were formed to assist the council.
The committees include: Administrative and Finance Committee, School Examinations Committee, Public Service Examinations Committee, The Professional, Technical and Commercial Examinations Committee, and the Local Committee. The total number of people present for this meeting was 26:
– A. N Galsworthy (Chairman of the Council)
– George Barker Jeffery (Chief Secretary of the West African Inter-Territorial Secretariat)
– J. L. Brereton (Secretary of the Cambridge Syndicate)
– 13 members nominated by the governments of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and the Gambia.
– 10 Observers, one of whom was Constance Rulka, who was later made the Chief Examiner, and, appointed Assistant Registrar of the West African Examinations Council, and also put in charge of examinations in English at all levels in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Gambia.
The number of candidates participating in WAEC registration each year can testify to the countless examinations the council has coordinated so far, and the certificates they have issued out.
In a year, over three million candidates partake in WAEC registration for the exams. This is very important because any student who, having schooled in West Africa, does not have a WAEC result, will not gain admission into any West African University.
Former HNO of WAEC Nigeria, Dr, Adeyegbe (2004) said the “the council has developed a team of well-trained and highly motivated staff, and has administered Examinations that are valid and relevant to the educational aspirations of member countries”.
The examinations conducted by the council fall under four different categories: International Examinations, National Examinations, Examinations conducted in collaboration with other examination bodies, and Examinations conducted on behalf of other examining bodies. The international exams are the ones taken in the five countries with the WAEC ordinance. They include:
– WASSCE (West African Senior School Certificate Examinations
– SC/GCE O’ Level
– HSC/GCE A’ Level
The National examinations are taken in individual countries. They include:
– the Junior Secondary School Certificate for Nigeria and the Gambia
– Junior and Senior High School Certificate Examinations for Liberia
– National Primary School and Basic Education Certificate Examinations forSierra Leone
– Basic Education Certificate Examinations for WAEC Ghana
– Senior School Certificate Examinations for WAEC Ghana
Examinations conducted by the council in collaboration with some trustworthy examination bodies include:
– City and Guilds of London Institute
– Royal Society of Arts
Examinations conducted in West Africa on behalf of international examination bodies. These include:
– University of London GCE
– Scholastic Aptitude Test and Graduate Record Examinations for Educational Testing Service, Princeton,USA
– JAMB (Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board) examination in countries outside Nigeria
Candidates for the exams are guided by the WAEC timetable usually released ahead of the examinations.
Few months after the examinations, candidates can log on to the WAEC result checker to check their WAEC result. The WAEC result checker is an online platform that requires candidates to enter a scratch card pin and candidate exam details in order to display the candidate’s WAEC result.