The Minister of Education Youth and Sports, Dr. Minkailu Bah yesterday answered to questions from MPs regarding the conduct of this years’ WASSCE and National Primary School Examination (NPSE) exams which invariably caused lots of distress for the candidates/pupils and the poor parents.
He was invited to Parliament after concerns raised by Hon. Robin Faley about how the NPSE exams were conducted. The questions sent to the Minister to answer were that: To explain the reasons for the confusion regarding the date on which the NPSE was to be conducted and to also explain the reasons for the confusion, delay in the starting time of the exams in many centers specifically Kailahun and Kono Districts, reasons for the provision of inadequate examination materials and lack of smooth running of classes for JSS1 and SSS11.
Dr. Bah explained that the conduct of the NPSE was traditionally conducted every last Friday in May to enable Secondary Schools use their facilities for the examination and the schools had to give a day to the students countrywide. He said at that time it was suitable when the GCE was conducted in May/June. But with the introduction of the WASSCE which is conducted in April/May, large subject papers were scheduled for the first Friday in May.
Dr. Bah stated that WAEC had little or no control in the setting of time table as the exams were taken by four member countries it became difficult for Secondary schools used as WASSCE centers undertaking the conduct of NPSE. As a result of that, he disclosed that WAEC Freetown office appealed to the Ministry of Education for a possible date on the first Saturday in May each year and it was granted.
He also stated that the Saturday exams was far more suitable as congestion in the city was comparatively moving for the examination to be conducted without much hitch as it would be regarded as a weekend affair to enable candidates from the remote areas to travel on the Friday, take the exams on the Saturday and then return on Sunday.
He agreed that there were difficulties in air lifting the exams materials to Kailahun and Kono districts also from Accra by Kenya Airways. He confirmed that exams did not start early in few centers in the Eastern region as in Segbwema, the exams started from 9am-3:30pm, Bunumbu from 9am-3:30pm, Daru 9am-3:30pm, Pendembu 9am-3:30pm, Kailahun 7am and in some areas ending at 6:45 and others 7:35pm. Buedu 11:45am- 6:30pm, Koidu 1: pm-7: pm.
The MP that raised the question, Hon. Robin Faley said much of the answers the minister gave
Were not factual and he explained the stress the children went through when taking their first external examination.
With subsidiary questions from MPs, the Speaker asked the Education Minister to return again to Parliament after he had done his research on the questions.