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WAEC responds to private schools’ threat to boycott BECE, WASSCE over fees

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has issued a response to the recent threat by private schools to boycott the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) due to what they perceive as exorbitant charges.

WAEC, Ghana Schools

In a statement, WAEC reaffirmed its commitment to conducting fair and credible examinations while acknowledging the concerns raised by private schools regarding examination fees.

According to John Kapi, WAEC's Director of Public Affairs, the council considers various factors such as rising printing costs and economic fluctuations when determining examination fees.

Kapi emphasized that WAEC's budget planning is based on estimates from the previous year but noted that economic changes may necessitate adjustments leading to fee increases. He cited factors like inflation, exchange rates, and fuel prices as considerations in fee determinations.

“For example, before we come out with examination fees, we consider several things. Now, we do the printing of the question papers ourselves, and for the bond paper that we use in printing, we have to import it. And so the parameters that we use are based on market prices or market conditions.”

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“We look at inflation, exchange rate, port charges, and all of these are looked at before we come up with our estimates about what we are going to charge. Already this year, fuel prices are beginning to shoot up high, we don't know where it will get to,” he said on Joy TV

The threat of a boycott by private schools arises from dissatisfaction with the current fees, with students from private institutions paying GH¢465 for WASSCE and GH¢214 for BECE. The Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) argues that these fees place an undue financial burden on students and their families.

GNAPS has called on the government to recognize low-fee-paying private schools as social interventions aimed at educating children in deprived communities and supporting them accordingly. They have also threatened to boycott next year's BECE if their concerns are not addressed.

However, Kapi clarified that WAEC does not unilaterally decide on fee increases. He explained that representatives from various government offices and associations form a budget committee that collaboratively decides on any potential fee adjustments.

The committee includes representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Ghana Education Service, the Budget Department, the Finance Ministry, CHASS, private schools associations, universities, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Attorney General's Department.

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“We have a budget subcommittee of the board, and this is made up of people who have the requisite background. They look at the budget, we fix the figures, and then it is presented to the board itself. Now, I need people to understand that the board is chaired by the Director General of the Ghana Education Service.”

“We also have a rep from the Minister of Education, who is also the Chief Director. We have a rep from the budget department and the finance ministry. We have a rep from CHASS, a rep from the private schools association, universities, the chamber of commerce, and the Attorney General's department. So all these will come together and sit down to look at whatever we've come up with,” Mr Kapi said.

It remains to be seen how WAEC and private schools will navigate these challenges to ensure fair and accessible examination processes for all students.

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