Biometric versus criminals
The West African Examination Council (WAEC) Sierra Leone, on Thursday, February 14th, launched the Biometric Registration System for private candidates that will be taking the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) in November and December this year. The system aims at preventing impersonators and other criminals from defrauding the exams.
However, I am with the firmest conviction that the success of the system in preventing criminals heavily relies on the integrity and commitment of those charged with the responsibility to operate it as the system cannot provide its own information but depends on what is input by the operators who are fallible human beings, not saints.
If those operating the system choose to be dishonest and unpatriotic by conniving with impersonators and other criminals for commercial or other considerations, then, I believe, the system will surely fail in minimizing or eradicating fraud in the exams; the impersonators and other criminals will definitely succeed in beating the system.
This possibility becomes higher when one considers the chronic poverty in the country and the consequent propensity of many Sierra Leoneans to accept bribes to supplement their meager salaries. Even with the presence of the Biometric Registration System, certain seasoned impersonators and other hardened criminals may attempt to defeat the system and if the officials operating it are not properly trained and honest, the criminals may use them to defeat the system and continue defrauding the exams, thereby rendering the system meaningless.
Also, there is need to thoroughly train the WAEC officials in the proper operation of the new system to prevent it from being beset by multiple problems as was the case with the National Electoral Commission during the initial stage of the Biometric Voter Registration.
By Joseph Milton Lebbie
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