COVID-19: The continuing controversies over online examinations

The global lockdown of education institutions is going to cause a major interruption in students' learning, disruptions in internal assessments, and the cancellation of public assessments for qualifications or their replacement by an inferior alternative.

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh

Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many organizations and institutions are using E-learning because it can be as effective as traditional training at a lower cost.

Developing e-learning is more expensive than preparing classroom materials and training the trainers.

There is a need for the government to digitise educational content for students because it saves cost and makes learning easier and effective for students.


Due to the deadly coronavirus, many schools in the country have had to postpone teaching until further notice.

Education Minister Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh has indicated that deliberations are still ongoing to determine the best mode of assessing academic work and varied options have come up for discussion at the stakeholder meetings.

According to him, "We won't wait and be confronted with something we haven’t thought through. We have a standing committee chaired by Professor Yankah, working with the universities in coming up with the alternatives. Somebody brought a paper from one university that said we should get into the online assessment. How would I accept the online assessment when I know some persons cannot come online?"

"There is no public school, conducting any exam online. Some universities in rolling out their virtual learning are doing a continuous assessment. The only university that is advanced in that is KNUST that said they will do mid-semester and others. We have to assess that based upon what happened and if students were left out," he said.


He said the Ministry is also working with its stakeholders to consider possible outcomes at the basic and Senior High School levels.

Among the options laid down on the table for discussions, he suggested, is for the continuous assessment of the candidates preparing for West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination and Basic Education Certificate Examination to be submitted in place of the exam as their final results for entry to the Universities and Senior High Schools, respectively.

"There has to be an acceptable assessment method for which we can all agree that if we use this assessment the universities must admit students based on that assessment method," he added.

PUSAG on 'discriminatory' online examinations

The Private Universities Students Association of Ghana (PUSAG) says it will not be advisable for the Ministry of Education to permit public Universities to organise an online end of semester examination for students across the country.


According to the group, the policy could be discriminatory as many of the students studying in private universities and other university colleges will be left out.

The group is also lamenting what they term as the neglect of private university students by the government in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

PUSAG said all interventions from the education ministry so far including the e-learning platforms have only benefited a few public universities.

UPSA agitate against online exams

Some students of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) are strongly against management’s decision to conduct this semester’s examinations online.


According to them, introducing online examinations would not be in the interest of many students of the school.

A student of UPSA, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said students who live in remote areas are currently battling with poor internet services.

The student explained that the university's "no fees, no registration, and no registration, no exams" policy could also hinder many students from partaking in the exams.

"We are not in normal times due to the pandemic that has caused a stand-still in every activity. Besides, UPSA has a student populace dispersed around the whole country. Some students reside in remote areas of the country and hardly gain access to an internet connection and therefore subscribing to the online platform becomes relatively impossible," a student said.

GIJ students reject online examination


The Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) has announced novel guidelines for its Second Semester 2019/2020 examinations, but the announcement has proved unpopular among some students on social media.

The Academic Board of the School says the online examination is in response to government directives to all universities as part of emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the End-of-Semester Examinations scheduled provisionally for between May 25-June 12 will not require students to gather at one location to sit for the exams.


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