By Dayo Adesulu
The Association for Educational Assessment in Africa (AEAA) has identified ICT, quality teaching and teachers as compulsory to curb examination malpractice. The AEAA 37th conference was hosted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Nigeria at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja from 5th to 9th August 2019.
The theme of the Conference was Innovations in Educational Assessment. Three Hundred and Thirty-nine (339) delegates from 28 countries across the globe attended the conference. Seventy-five (75) papers and four (4) keynote addresses were presented at the Conference.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Sir Chinaka Ohe, welcomed delegates and expressed his delight that Abuja was chosen as the venue of the Conference. Sir Ohe appreciated the important role the AEAA has been playing in the education sector in Africa. He further stated that it was widely known that education was a panacea for all social ills. He noted that innovation is critical in every human endeavour and hoped that the educational assessment innovations that would arise from the Conference would bring about improvement in educational assessment and in education sector in general.
The Registrar to Council, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae traced the journey that led to the hosting of the Conference by WAEC, Nigeria and wished participants fruitful deliberations. The Chairman, Nigeria National Committee of WAEC, Dr. (Mrs) Lami Amodu highlighted the sub-themes of the Conference especially the issue of assessment of learners with special educational needs which is necessary for ensuring that every child despite their situation has equitable access to quality education. She thereafter thanked the President of the AEAA, the Registrar to WAEC, Nigeria Council, the Sponsors and everyone who made the hosting of the Conference a reality.
The President of AEAA, Dr. Litsabako Ntoi, in her opening address welcomed delegates to Abuja. She stated that the purpose of the Conference was to satisfy a collective quest for improved education for the African Child. She stressed the need for participants and members of the Association to continually learn from each other. She thereafter thanked everyone who helped to make the Conference a reality and wished participants fruitful deliberations.
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Arch. Sonny Echono in his opening address said that Africa could not afford to be left behind in educational innovations. He expressed a consensus opinion that the AEAA was playing a pivotal role in educational development in Africa.
He observed that there was a need for governments to re-appraise the relationship between education and national development in the light of the widespread poverty on the continent. He reported the commitment of the Buhari led administration in Nigeria to education with emphasis on Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET). He expressed his wish that the Conference would impact not only on assessment but on education in general. Thereafter, he declared the conference open and wished delegates fruitful deliberations and pleasant stay in Abuja.
The Head of National Office, WAEC, Nigeria, Mr. Olutise I. Adenipekun, appreciated the presence of the Permanent Secretaries despite their busy schedules which was a strong statement about their commitments to Education. He concluded by thanking Partners with WAEC, Sponsors and Conference Delegates.
Four (4) keynote addresses were presented at the conference as follows:
In her keynote address titled, Attribute Appraisal and the Imperative of Policy Development for Innovative Educational Assessment, Prof. Francisca Aladejana, explored the following areas: What is Assessment?, Educational Assessment, What are the Attributes of Good Educational Assessment?, The Need for Innovation in Educational Assessment, Educational Assessment Practices that make Innovation Imperative in Nigerian Schools and Implication for Policy Making and Innovation. She stressed the need to focus on new ways in which assessment can be creative, performance based and capacity building for teachers.
The second keynote address, titled Innovation in Educational Assessment: A Case Study of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) of Nigeria was presented by Prof. Is-haq Olarewaju Oloyede. He outlined that the purpose of innovation is to enhance efficiency and that everyone must not be satisfied with the status quo, but must be engaged in revolutionary innovations. He outlined the transition of JAMB from paper and pencil test to CBT was to achieve more efficiency and to counter the scourge of examination malpractices. He stated that biometrics, CCTVs in centres and central admission processing system were some of the devices being employed by JAMB to curb examination malpractices.
Prof. Redwood-Sawyerr presented the third keynote address which focussed on the Impact of ICT on Examination. He outlined various micro-technology devices available for sale online that candidates use to commit examination fraud. He recommended that examination bodies, administrators and assessment professionals need to be aware of the devices and devise new ways to counter them. He also recommended that educators must review the ways of teaching and assessment to counter the scourge of examination malpractices.
The fourth keynote address was titled Innovations in Teaching and learning Oriented Practice was presented by Prof. Omaze Anthony Afemikhe. He stressed that innovation should follow a process that should be understood by the Agency aspiring for its implementation and that all the people to drive the innovation must be trained. He also proposed that emphasis should be on how assessment could be used to improve learning.
The Conference deliberations focused on the following sub-themes:
Assessment for and of Teaching and Learning
Under this sub-theme, the participants observed that assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. There was a consensus that reliable assessment should be part of the teaching and learning process. Therefore there is need for technological innovations in educational assessment to include instructional processes.
ICT and Innovative Educational Assessment
The pros and cons of application of ICT in educational assessment were discussed. It was observed that application of ICT in educational assessment was imperative notwithstanding the disadvantages. The delegates noted the urgent need to employ ICTs in all aspects of educational assessment. Participants agreed to continue to explore means of addressing the observed threats of ICTs to educational assessment.
Innovative Assessment for Quality Education
Under this sub-theme, the prospects and challenges of innovative assessment were discussed, including the role of innovative assessment on quality of education. It was noted that innovative assessment has the potential to improve the quality of education and therefore should be embraced. Participants explored ways of addressing the identified challenges. Various ICT based solutions available for purchase were presented for members to consider.
Prospects and Challenges in Computer-Based Assessment
Lack of infrastructure and other challenges of computer-based assessment (CBA) in Africa were identified and discussed. The participants welcomed the increasing need to adopt and use CBA in Africa. Suggestions were made on how the identified challenges could be addressed. The Conference cautioned that the nature and purpose of assessment should be of major considerations in employing CBA.
The Role of ICT in Curbing Examination Malpractices
The threats of examination malpractices on the integrity of qualifications awarded by examination bodies were discussed under this sub-theme. The prospects and challenges of applying ICTs in curbing examination malpractices were also discussed. Various ICTs based solutions were presented for members to consider. It was a consensus that ICTs are indispensable tool for curbing examination malpractices.
Assistive and Adaptive Technologies: Educational Assessment for Learners with Special Needs
Under this theme various methods and strategies used by examining bodies to accommodate learners with special educational needs in the assessment processes were discussed. There was consensus that assessment practices and tools should not put candidates with special needs at a disadvantaged position. It was agreed that examining bodies should adopt various test accommodation practices and assistive technologies in assessment of learners with special educational needs to promote equity.
The Conference made the following resolutions:
- Examining bodies should endeavour to embrace ICT based innovative approaches in their operations and assessment practices;
- The AEAA should strengthen its capacity building programme to support the upcoming innovative approaches in member countries;
- Educators and Assessment experts should consider reviewing the current ways of teaching, learning and assessment to ensure that meaningful learning takes place to counter the scourge of examination malpractices;
- Educational and Examining organisations must consider exploring, developing, adapting and or adopting various ICTs based solutions to promote meaningful teaching and learning, and enhance their integrity, efficiency and effectiveness;
- Innovations in assessment and education should be driven by research findings. Therefore, education and assessment institutions must consider establishing well-resourced research units that will use appropriate methodologies, suitable statistical and qualitative analyses and provide information to support innovations.