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West African Examinations Council Manages Student Testing Via RFID

Exam supervisors in Nigeria have been using readers to capture data from RFID-enabled badges to verify each student's authenticity, as well as create an electronic record of who took a particular test.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 19, 2015

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has launched an RFID-based solution that enables testing supervisors to confirm the identity of each student who takes a test, in order to thwart exam fraud by college applicants and provide security. WAEC conducts international and national examinations within its member countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra-Leone, Gambia and Liberia). Testing season is currently underway, and the system is being used to validate every student, and to store data regarding who took which test, and when and where this took place. The solution—provided by Botosoft Technologies, of Lagos, Nigeria—employs HID Global passive high-frequency (HF) RFID tags, printer-encoders and readers.

Each spring and summer, 2.2 million students take exams at more than 15,000 testing centers that WAEC operates in Nigeria. The process has required students to register for their exams through their schools' online service in advance, and to upload photos of themselves. They then printed out a paper version of their registration, which includes their photo, personal information and test reservation details. Exam supervisors compared the printed form against the individual's actual face and confirmed that he or she could enter. However, the paperwork could have been doctored, with another picture placed where the actual applicant should be displayed. The system also did not create an automated record of who had reported to take the test at the scheduled time.

Each test taker is issued an ID card containing a passive high-frequency RFID inlay.
With an automated system from Botosoft, WAEC can accomplish two things, according to Tolulope Agbeyo, Botosoft's director. It can automatically prove that an individual has not doctored the paperwork and is, therefore, authorized to take the test. And it can collect data about who takes which exam, as well as how many individuals arrive and from what schools. The agency can then use this information to improve on how those tests are administered in the future, and to record malpractices against individual candidates and centers in the event that cheating is discovered.

With the Botosoft system, after a student registers for an exam, his or her information is gathered in the software to create a profile to include that individual's name, school, date of birth, subject test interests and photograph. That data is stored in the Candidates Identity Verification, Attendance, MalPractice and Post Examinations Management System (CIVAMPEMS), provided by Botosoft.

At the test sites, staff members are equipped with Chainway C2000 PDAs with built-in HID Global RFID reader modules.
WAEC then uses HID Global Fargo ID card printers to create an ID card with an integrated HID Global 13.56 MHz passive RFID inlay (compliant with the ISO 15693 standard) for each student, and to encode that inlay with data about the test taker, along with his or her photo and a unique ID number. That information is also stored in the CIVAMPEMS software on WAEC's server, as well as on Botosoft's server, for the purpose of redundancy. The encoded ID cards are then sent to the exam applicants' schools, which distribute them to the appropriate students.

At each of the test sites—there are a total of 15,528—staff members are equipped with Chainway C2000 PDAs with built-in HID Global RFID reader modules, says Robert Smith, HID Global's general manager. When students arrive, the workers use the Microsoft Windows-based PDA to read the RFID inlay of every ID card presented to them. They can then view each student's photo and read the data encoded to the card, compare the student's physical appearance with the image and text printed on the card's front, and thereby confirm that he or she is not a fraudulent test taker. The C2000 has a GPRS connection that forwards the tag's data, via a cellular connection, back to the CIVAMPEMS system operating on WAEC's and Botosoft's servers, thereby indicating who has arrived for testing, and at what time and location.

If the cellular connection is not working, the captured ID data is stored on the PDA. That information can then be uploaded later via a cabled connection, or once a cellular connection is re-established.

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