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Understanding the Processes of the GCE Board

Syllabuses play a key role in assessment of GCE examinations. Syllabuses are often provided in paper form or online. They give an outline and summary of topics to be covered in an examination, or a training course.

When the outline covers an examination, it is referred to as an Examination syllabus and when it covers a Training course, it is called a Teaching syllabus.

Syllabus requirements 

A syllabus usually contains specific information about the course. It also provides an outline of what will be covered in the course. The booklet bearing regulations and syllabuses of the GCE Board, June 2009, has adopted a standard form of presentation.    

Test Development (CTT and IRT)

Overview

Testing is the heart of the GCE Board. It takes a considerable amount of time to run through this exercise. It comprises several interrelated processes. Effective testing requires a systematic, detailed-oriented approach based on sound theoretical principles.

A question is a task (cognitive or psychomotor) requiring a response. Examination questions take different forms depending on the purpose for which are intended.

They may be essay, structural/supply, multiple choice (MCQ) or practical type. When constituted in a question paper, they became to tool used in investigation whether a candidate effectively acquired the target skills and competences during the period of study. 

Question Moderation

Subject Officials (Assessors, Chief/assistant Examiners & some experienced Examiners ) are invited to converge at the Board for a period of 3-5 days in an exercise that is known as ‘Question Moderation’.

Using the raw test items form the examiners, the subject panels now systematically constitute the different question papers for each subject. Subject panels may be required to produce two or three sets of each paper of a subject depending on the state of the question bank for that subject.

Each of the question paper is developed following the specifications that are indicated on a Test Blueprint or Table of Specification (TOS). A test Blueprint is a tool that ensures appropriate balance between the content and the abilities to be tested in each question paper.

The proposed marking guides are also prepared at the stage. Manuscript Drafting Sheets (MDS) are essentially used to constitute the raw test items into complete question papers.  

Question Typesetting.

Question for each subject and paper are then submitted to the Division of Technical Services by the Examination Officers for typesetting and formatting into the Cameroon GCE Board standard format. This exercise is necessary only for the questions that were received in hard copies.

The Board is gradually insisting, the subject officials should submit soft and hard copies of the question papers so that in the near future, this step will be completely eliminated in the test preparation process at the GCE Board.

Pre-Testing (MCQ)

Pre-testing involves administering moderated test items to be sample group of candidates similar to the population for the final examination. It is a process of testing the test to collect data for use in determining how well the test measures the construct of interest. Pre-testing is also referred to as:

  • Field testing
  • Pilot testing
  • Trial-testing

The GCE Board carries out pre-testing of all the Multiple Choice Question (MCQs) or test items used in its examinations. MCQs are only used for all “Paper 1” components of the examinations.

Question Proof-reading.

After some time (say five months) the subject panels are again invited to come and work on the questions in an exercise that is Christened as ‘Proof Reading’.

During this stage of the work, the subject officials do final scrutiny of the questions to ascertain that they are good quality questions for future use as an examination. A period of time is given between question moderation and proofreading in order to mitigate the effects of tunnel vision.

Tunnel vision effects occur when your familiarity with the content of a text or subject matter blurs your alertness to the errors and other weaknesses inherent in the text.

Banking (Paper set/Group Banking, Item Banking)

An item bank is a collection of test items that may be easily assessed for use in preparing examinations. Use of an item bank and a good item banking software is a solution to the effort and expense of preparing new items for each administration of an assessment.

With a good item bank, where items are indexed according to their class of knowledge and their psychometric characteristics, items are easily retrievable for use in an assessment. An excellent item banking system also provides automation and standardization essential to developing and maintaining effective tests.

However, item banking at the GCE Board is synonymous to question storage, where:

  • Moderated items when vetted, are compiled into full examination paper and kept along with their corresponding tables of specifications. A recording is then kept, both in hard and soft forms, of the number of question sets per subject in the bank.
  • Considering that many sets are moderated and proofread each year, questions are kept in the bank long enough to cure/mature before they are administered. A period of three (3) years is usually required for any questions put in the bank in the bank to mature before they can be used as a live examination.

Test Administration 

  • It is a process whereby the testing Body (GCE Board) provides a favorable atmosphere for obtaining good responses from testees.
  • It also validates a rigorous and meticulous procedure which spans from the creation of registration and accommodation centers to the reception and dispatch of scripts to marking centers, and eventual publication of results.
  • Supervisors are appointed and briefed on the conduct of the GCE examinations. Invigilators are however appointed by Principals of School and Chief of Centers.
  • Here is a superintendent appointed by the Registrar for each of the schools where the examination is conducted.
  • Where candidates are more than 1000, an assistant superintendent is appointed. Superintendents are deployed to schools other than those where they teach.

This practice is a security measure to check on the Board’s property and its security. The ensuring reports serve as a quality control measure on the entire exercise.

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The Registrar of the GCE Board affected after Monday, January 29, 2018, Presidential decree

The Registrar of the GCE Board was also affected after Monday, January 29, 2018, Presidential decree appointing officials of State universities and other citadels of learning in Cameroon in which the Board Chair of the GCE Board, Professor Peter Abety, was shown the door, education stakeholders were already extrapolating about bigger shocks at the Anglo-Saxon examination managing body.

Board Chair of the GCE Board

1) As Prof. Leke Abety was packing his baggage out of office, another seasoned Educationist Professor Ivo Leke Tambo was designated to step into Abety’s shoes as Board Chair of the GCE Board .

2) Prior to his appointment Prof. Leke Tambo was the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Secondary Education. He also occupied the same post in the Ministry of Basic Education.

Registrar of the GCE Board

Humphrey Ekema Monono replaced as Registrar of the GCE Board
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3) On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, ushering Dr. Humphrey Ekema Monono out of office. The now erstwhile Registrar of the GCE Board has been marshaling the examination outfit for close to a decade.

4) Ekema Monono was replaced by another experienced Educationist, Dang Akuh Dominic. The new GCE Registrar before his January 31 appointment was the Inspector General in the Ministry of Secondary Education in charge of Bilingualism.

5) He takes over a GCE Board plagued by numerous challenges among them is the non-payment of GCE Examiners who marked the 2017 session of the examination. He will have to quell their rage be they carry out their threat to boycott the 2018 marking session of the exams.

ASTI

6) It would be recalled that the January 29 Presidential decree appointed Dr. Alexandre Tene Ndeffo as the Director of the Advanced School of Translators and Interpreters (ASTI) at the University of Buea. He replaces Dr. Joseph Suh Che, who goes on retirement.

FSMS

6) Prof. Martha Tumnde, former Dean of the Faculty of Social and Management Sciences (FSMS) in the University of Buea, was promoted to Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Research, Cooperation and Relations with the Business World. She was replaced by Professor Emmanuel Yenshu who was formerly Vice Dean in the same Faculty.

ENS

7) Veronique Kabeyene Beyala was appointed Director of the Higher Teachers Training College (ENS) Bertoua, while Ibrahima Farikou was appointed Dean of the newly created Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences of the University of Ngaoundere.

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The Appointment of Pioneer GCE Board General-Manager & Deputy Director-General.

The Pioneer GCE Board General-Manager, as well as Deputy Director-General of the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (GCE) Board, is expected to be named in the days ahead following an October 22 presidential decree that overhauled the structures of the board.

Decree No 2018/514 of 22 October 2018

According to decree No 2018/514 of 22 October 2018, signed on October 22, 2018, the Anglo-Saxon examination board shall henceforth be headed by a Board accompanied by representatives from several administrative institutions.

The decree states that the board is now an administrative public establishment, endowed with legal personality and financial autonomy.

Going by the decree, the general purpose of the board shall be the organisation of the following examinations: GCE Ordinary level, GCE Advanced level, Technical and Vocational Education and professional certificate examinations.

Chapter II of the decree states that the board shall be managed by both the board of directors and the registry, all appointed by Presidential decree.

The decree however states that the Registrar of the Board shall be responsible for the management of the Board under the control of the Board of Directors.

All previous provisions of the Board are by this present decree repealed, part of the decree states.

The Registrar becomes General-Manager

  • The Registrar of the Board will hence be referred to as “General-Manager” to be assisted by a deputy. They will hence be appointed by a presidential decree for a mandate of three years renewable twice.
  • They shall work under the supervision of the Board of Directors in their administrative, financial and technical management of the Board.

The Board of Directors

  • Article eight of the presidential decree states that “The Board of Directors shall comprise seven (7) members including the Chairperson.
  • The Decree further states that “the Chairperson and Members of the Board of Directors shall be appointed by the Decree of the President of the Republic for a three (3) year term renewable once”.

The General-Manager & Deputy Director-General.

The Presidential Decree, reorganizing the Board has caused some significant and even worrisome changes. Unlike before, there will be no representative of the Parents Association.

The new text does not also make provision for any teachers’ representative at the Board and that of various education secretariats of lay-private and denominational schools.

GCE Boards worldwide

Another controversy is that GCE Boards worldwide are headed by Registrars unlike the case of Cameroon wherein it will be headed by a Director-General and Deputy Director-General.

Many have already taken offense on the issue of the non-representation of teachers’ unions, considered to be the group that fought and bled for the creation of the Board.

People have been quick in pointing out that the Board of Directors, are all appointees from Government offices, apart from one who will be elected by GCE Board staff to represent them.

What is not included

There will be no representative from the University of Buea that used to play a significant part in the Board deliberations and co-signs Certificates issued by the Board.


Chapter 48 of the Presidential Decree states that “All previous provisions repugnant to this decree are repealed notably the provisions of decree No.112/CAB/PM of 12 October 1993 to define and determine the administrative and financial organization of the General Certificate of Education Board.”

The seven chapters and 51 articles of the presidential decree transforms the GCE Board into a para-statal with the recent reforms said to usher in financial autonomy and improve on the management of the Board.

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