By Assan Bah
The West Africa Examination Council (WAEC), Banjul Office on Thursday, November 2, 2023, conducted its fourth edition of the National Awards Ceremony for the West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and Gambia Basic Education Certificate Examination (GABECE) 2022 School Candidates.
The awards ceremony, according to the National Office, was geared towards recognizing and celebrating excellence in the education system, and encouraging students to strive for excellence.
The ceremony, which was held at the WAEC headquarters in Banjul, brought together officials from the council, retired educationists, teachers, parents, students, well-wishers and stakeholders. The awardees of this year’s edition are from St. Peters Senior Secondary School for WASSCE level while GABECE category went to three candidates, the Gambia Methodist Academy, SOS Hermann Gmeiner Upper Basic School, and St. Therese’s Upper Basic School respectively.
Mr Pa Samba Baldeh, Head of National Office (HNO), Banjul, said the National and International Awards were instituted by the Council’s Board of Trustees to recognise outstanding performance and motivate all candidates sitting for the Council’s examinations.
He, however, said the awards criteria may be stringent, but said they are not beyond the reach of Gambian students.
“The awards have always gone to the deserving candidates, year in and year out, and this year is no different as their academic records have proven that they were high achievers throughout,” he said.
The HNO reported that the awardees achieve their grades without any examination malpractice.
He added: “They achieved their grades without the slightest hint of examination malpractice, again proving that the Council’s examinations are passable at the highest level without any irregularity.”
He congratulated both the awardees, their families and their schools and said he hoped the awardees would serve as shining examples and mentors for prospective candidates of the Council’s examinations in The Gambia.
Baldeh also expressed gratitude to MoBSE, stakeholders, and all schools in the Gambia, and its examiners as he said WAEC could have not done it without their support.
Representing the Minister for Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), PS Ebrima Sissawo said the forum does not only recognise excellence but also serves as a platform to encourage students to strive for excellence.
He said despite the challenges, “it is heart-warming to note that the country’s education system continues to produce high achievers every year.”
PS Sissawo further stated that the government has over the years, demonstrated its commitment to ensure quality in the country’s education sector, which he said has improved the performance level of schools in examinations.
“Consequently, we have witnessed an increase in infrastructure [number of classrooms in our Upper Basic and Senior Secondary Schools throughout the country] and have received funding from our development partners. The increase in infrastructure has improved the conducive teaching and learning in schools which is a prerequisite of quality education,” he added.
He further congratulated the awardees, parents and the WAEC Banjul office for its commitment in continuing to recognise and reward excellence in examinations they conduct.
“MoBSE appreciates all the efforts made by WAEC and its stakeholders in trying to reduce all forms of examination malpractices.”
Delivering her vote of thanks, Mrs Sukai Joberteh, Acting Head of Testing Division, Banjul Office, said it is always necessary to celebrate those who have shown exceptional abilities in examinations and she challenges students to emulate this year’s awardees.
The awardees were Fatoumatta Kanteh of St. Therese’s Upper Basic School and she won the third best candidate for GABECE category with 8 A1s and B2 in Agriculture with a tee score of 79.77.
The second best category went to Mahmut Touray of SOS Hermann Gmeiner Upper Basic School, who had 9 A1s and a tee score of 81.49 and went home with a cash prize of D15, 000. Aminata K. Bojang of Gambia Methodist Academy won the award for best GABCE candidate for 2022; and a score of 81.65, she was given a certificate and a cash prize of Eighteen thousand Dalasi (D18, 0000).
Daniel N. Osuoha, from St Peter’s Technical Senior Secondary School, won the only award for the WASSCE category with 8A1s and a B2 in English Language with a tee score of 71.71. He was awarded a certificate and cash prize of forty-four thousand (D44,200).
Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Daniel Osuoha expressed gratitude to their parents and teachers for supporting them during their educational journey.
He equally thanked WAEC for organising such an event, as he said he believed this will serve as motivation to other students across the country.