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We must prepare our young people for the future through innovation in education, says Osinbajo at WAEC’s 70th anniversary

The future of Nigerian and regional institutions like the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) will depend on how well they embrace technological innovations and their…

The future of Nigerian and regional institutions like the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) will depend on how well they embrace technological innovations and their ability to reinvent themselves, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this in Abuja while formally declaring open the 70th Annual Council Meeting of WAEC. Nigeria is hosting the body’s landmark Annual Council Meeting – its Platinum Anniversary.

Highlighting key areas, the examination body could prepare better and innovate for the future, Prof. Osinbajo noted that “Critical thinking, creativity, imagination, problem solving skills, and collaboration, are essential skills that young people need to be competitive and prepared for life and work in a global economy.”

Urging the body to design its curriculum further to test for and support these core skills, Prof. Osinbajo advised that “the Africa that WAEC must prepare our children for” should be one “that will need world-class young people who have strong interpersonal, innovative, entrepreneurial, critical and creative thinking skills amongst others.”

While the Vice President noted that “WAEC has shown through the years that it has the capacity and dynamism to evolve and remain relevant” in an ever-changing world, he emphasized the need to embrace more innovation across board.

Pointing out to major significant changes in work-life balance, business, and the global economy in the 21st century, the VP observed that “with amazing advances in technology, talent is more mobile, and there is greater competition for well trained, innovative and resourceful Human Resources. The twenty-first-century economy requires a different skill sets – problem solving and innovation are key requirements.”

“It is clear that the future of all our institutions including WAEC will depend on how well they embrace technological innovations and their ability to reinvent themselves in this ever-changing world. WAEC has shown through the years that it has the capacity and dynamism to evolve and remain relevant.”

Acknowledging WAEC’s contributions beyond being an examination body, the Vice President noted that the body has in the last 70 years contributed to the “promotion of sustainable human resource development, the integration and cooperation among West African States.

“Currently, more than 90% of educated adults in the English-speaking West African countries are products of WAEC, one way or the other.

“In these past seventy years, WAEC has faced its challenges, forthrightly, resolving issues of exam malpractice and evolving steadily and confidently into a more technology-driven organisation. With seventy years behind us, it is now time to begin to prepare for the next 70 years. It is clear that these coming decades will come with vastly different challenges and opportunities.”

The VP then pointed out some key areas that he noted, would present new challenges and opportunities for innovation.

“The first is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the second is curriculum, teaching and examination relevant to the 21st century needs. A third issue is the role of technology in the work of WAEC,” he noted.

On using the adoption of the AfCFTA as a model for future improvements, the VP pointed out that “there is room for greater reach and expansion for regional organizations like WAEC, just following the trail of AFCTA.”

According to him, “with the AfCFTA, our continent is evolving right before our eyes. AfCFTA, which is an ambitious trade pact to form one of the world’s largest free trade area by connecting almost 1.3 billion people across all 54 African countries, aims to create a single market for goods and services in order to deepen the economic integration of Africa.”

He further stated that it was crucial that “WAEC must continually embrace Technology, there is no option today. And we must commend WAEC for the technological innovations it has implemented so far, which include biometric verifications, online registration, computer-based tests (CBT), etc. However, we can and must go further.

“A key aspect of technological advancement in examinations WAEC must commit to implementing is Online Examinations, which speaks to exams conducted remotely on a computer with high-speed internet,” he said.

According to the VP, this will “reduce the current overall logistics cost, break geographic barriers, thereby enabling a wider reach and participation, and further curb the menace of examination malpractices through AI-based proctoring technology,” among other positives.

Other technological innovation WAEC should take note of, the VP stated is On-Screen Marking, otherwise called Digital Evaluation – a method of marking paper-based candidate responses using a computer.”

On behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian Government, the Vice President then reaffirmed the Federal Government’s support for the Council, and extended felicitations, to delegates from the other four member countries of WAEC – Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia – who attended the ceremony virtually.

In his remarks, the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba stated that the Council’s decision to host the landmark meeting in Abuja was “a confirmation of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Administration’s resolve the make education the building block of development and we are leaving no stone unturned to provide, not only qualitative, but affordable education to our people.”

Similarly, the Chairman of the Council (WAEC), Prof. Ato Essuman (who participated and gave his remarks virtually), thanked the Vice President and the Nigerian government for attending the occasion, describing it as “a great honour done the WAEC family.”

According to Prof. Essuman, the Council “is fortunate to have Nigeria in its membership. Nigeria is a dependable backbone to provide strength and stability for the entire family. I am glad to disclose to this august gathering that Nigeria has performed its role creditably in the sustenance of the Council.”

Other dignitaries present at the ceremony were the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Sunday Dare; Registrar/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), WAEC, Gambia’s Pateh Bah; the Chief Federal Government nominee of WAEC, who is also the Director, Senior Secondary Education, Federal Ministry of Education, Hajia Binta Abdulkadir; and the Chief government nominees of Ghana, Sierra Leone; among others.

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