Frustration, anger and allegations of extortion by officials of the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) nearly marred the last day of the on-line registration for the November/December West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) at the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC) on Monday.
PRESEC is one of the centres for the on-line registration for the WASSCE.
Apart from a shortage of registration cards, parents and students complained that some people were extorting GH¢1.20 for two envelopes and the cost of stamps for inland postage. According to them, WAEC officials there looked on while this went on.
A Physics and Information Technology (IT) tutor at PRESEC, also a guardian, who was there to register a ward, Mr Quamina Ansah Yalley, told the Daily Graphic that he had paid GH¢640 for an online registration card and two extra cards for six papers in the examinations.
He said after going online to register, he had to print out a declaration form which needed the signatures of a guarantor and witnesses. He said the charge for going online was GH¢70.
As if that was not enough, when he had completed requirements and submitted the forms, GH¢1.20 was demanded from him.
He said after a long checklist online, with a lot of don’ts, the online registration gave no indication that envelopes and stamps were required. He contended that students for the remedial examinations had already been through enough trauma for more to be added to their plight at the point of registration.
In his view, if the WAEC could furnish all centres with enough computers and printers, there would be no need for the cards and the payment of extra fees, and certainly no room for the extortion they had been subjected to.
At the registration centre itself, parents and students alleged that after an announcement had been made that the registration cards had run out, a gentleman was seen selling the cards outside the centre.
While some said a police detail at the centre was earlier seen removing the cards from his pocket and surreptitiously selling them, others said it was the WAEC officials, who, in their bid to cash in on the last day registration, had created an artificial shortage to rake in some money.
Mr Damon Laso, a parent who had also come to register, vented his frustration: “Since Wednesday, I have had subject cards with no registration card that will permit me to go online and register”.
When contacted, officials of WAEC at the centre, who did not want to be named, denied the allegations and said the cards had truly run out.
They said registration centres had been set up for the past three months, but students and parents had not availed themselves of the opportunity till the last day.
On allegations of extortion, the officials said the envelopes and stamps that were selling for GH¢1.20 did not belong to WAEC but a private business person, who had brought them there to sell to supposedly help facilitate the process for students.
A Senior Public Affairs Officer of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe when contacted said the incident at PRESEC had not yet come to their notice, though the Council had taken notice of reports of shortage of registration cards.
To address the situation, she said all students and parents with subjects cards but no registration cards could come to WAEC or the registration centres and leave their details.
Mrs Teye-Cudjoe said the Council would endeavour to facilitate the registration of these students.
On incidents at the PRESEC campus, she said WAEC officials were not supposed to be selling envelopes and stamps although some entrepreneurs were known to be doing so at their centres.
On the appeal by a parent, Mr Yalley to have more computers and printers at the registration sites to prevent long queues of people, Mrs Teye-Cudjoe said WAEC’s core function was to facilitate ease of registration and parents could go to any of the numerous Internet cafes to register on line.
DAILY GRAPHIC, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2008, PG 11