WAEC call on President
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Don't compromise standards - President tells WAEC
President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, has called on the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) not to compromise standards as education is the only key that can liberate Africa from all problems.
President Jammeh made this call yesterday while addressing nine members of the sub-regional examinations council during a courtesy call at State House, Banjul.
The members, currently attending the Annual General Meeting of the WAEC in the country, are Professor JS Djagmah, the chairman of WAEC Headquarter in Ghana, Mrs Mabel I Ozumba, vice-chairman and chief government nominee from Nigeria, Mr Fatou Njie, the chief government nominee from The Gambia, Mr Samuel Bannerman Mensa, the chief government nominee from Ghana, Mrs Felicia Duesumah, the chief government nominee from Liberia, Mr Amadou Jallah, the chief government nominee from Sierra Leone, Alhaja (Mrs) MA Bello, the registrar to the council, Mr EMS Njie, the head of WAEC Office in Banjul, and Mrs Abena K Sagoe, the principal public affairs officer.
They were led to State House by Baboucarr Boye, the permanent secretary, at the Department of State for Basic and Secondary Education.
President Jammeh told the WAEC members that for Africa to liberate itself, children must be educated. He informed them that he will not compromise education with anything as according to him, Africa's biggest enemy today is not only HIV/AIDs or others, but ignorance.
"So the only way we can get rid of ignorance is not political ideologies, but education. If you want to kill education, then you want to lead people to darkness which I will not accept in this country," he assured.
The president observed that any head of state not interested in education means he or she is not interested in the development of his or her country.
The Gambian leader then saluted WAEC for a job well done over the past years unlike most institutions in the sub-region, including ECOWAS. He said ECOWAS has only succeeded in ending the war in Liberia.
"But in terms of economic integration, we are millions of miles apart. This is why when we were celebrating the 30th anniversary of ECOWAS, I asked the heads of state what we were celebrating? And they were not happy. My question came up for the fact that up to today, we cannot trade amongst ourselves, no school in any country has been built by the community or any economic institution has been created by ECOWAS. So we were celebrating nothing," he said.
He then added: "Attempts to integrate trade have failed. Trade amongst ourselves have failed, among others".
For WAEC, President Jammeh extolled the institution for always serving as the referee, guide and beckon of education in Africa, especially in the Anglophone countries. He also commended WAEC for the fact that up to today, the only certificate one can show internationally is the one issued by WAEC.
"Work in very difficult moments, take painful decisions and do not compromise standards. This has been manifested in one instance in this country in which the entire results of a school was destroyed which was a great disaster for the country, but shows the council's commitment to standards.
One can only assess the performance of his or her children in school if the children come back home with a certificate that is not questionable anywhere in the world. Don't compromise standards. Don't make somebody pass if the person fails and don't mind whose son or daughter the student is. Equally, don't allow cheating because if it is allowed, the validity and authenticity of the council's certificate will be questionable and if the certificate is questionable, then there will be a problem in the education system in Africa," he advised.
President Jammeh then reiterated his government's zero tolerance to corruption in whatever form, much more in education, agriculture, and health; the pillars of development and decent livelihood, which determine the future of the country.
The president said his government's objective is to make sure that no child is in the streets and 100 per cent of the children of this country go to school. "So we invest in education because our future depends on how much we invest in it.
If any government fails to invest in education, there cannot be any development. So we belief that education is the only solution to us Africans. What I want for West Africa is that for every child to be educated, parents should try to inspire and inculcate good in the minds of the children," he added.
He emphasised that WAEC has a pivotal role to play in education, noting that the survival of education in West Africa is dependent on the survival of WAEC. He urged the council to work hand-in-glove with the departments of education of various member states, adding that the only integration that has been successful in Africa is WAEC.
For her part, Dr Aja Isatou Njie Saidy, the vice president and secretary of State for Women's Affairs, also commended the council for a job well done over the years.
She assured them of government's support, noting that education is amongst the top priorities of the present government. "President Jammeh always says, without education, there cannot be any development, but ignorance. So this priority is now paying dividend," she said.
Fatou Lamin Faye, the secretary of state for Basic and Secondary Education, expressed delight with The Gambia playing host to another WAEC AGM, after five years. SoS Faye expressed hope that a lot will be discussed during deliberartions, saying that this year, the government's contribution to WAEC has increased to D10 million.
"Government also provided transport amongst other logistics to support the council", she said, expressing hope that critical issues, such as examination malpractices affecting the councils will be dealt with. Various secretaries of state attended the ceremony.
Author: by Alhagie Jobe