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The national examination, the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), taken at the end of the second term of the final year of basic education, focuses on selection of few above average students who qualify to offer general/academic programmes at the Senior High School (SHS) level. The so called “pass” in BECE, defined as gaining an aggregate range of 6-30 in the best six subjects with a grade 5 or better in the core subjects (i.e. Mathematics, English, Integrated Science and Social Studies), has clouded the purpose of the examination making people to inadvertently use it to label the majority of students who complete JHS as failures even though no one fails by the standards guiding the BECE.
Presently due to the limited number of entrants that SHS can absorb, less than half of JHS leavers who qualify obtain places. While some of these JHS levers find themselves in the few prestigious SHS, the remaining majority, who also qualify by the standards of the examination, find themselves in inferior senior high schools doing less-academic or technical/vocational programmes. JHS leavers who enter the latter institutions together with all the others who enter into apprenticeship are labeled failures even though their certificates indicate that they have passed the BECE.
In this light, qualifying for SHS does not necessarily mean the student can gain admission to SHS, since the latter depends on many factors including places presently available in high schools chosen, proximity to where parents live, programmes offered by school, parents’ ability to fund, etc. Junior high schools therefore need to have records on students qualifying but not gaining admission to SHS in order to plan with the community ways to continue to support such young students till they attain the official employment age. Such a process can begin in the third term of the school year after the students have sat the BECE if they remain in school till end of the year.
The question is ‘what does the education system offer in terms of advice or counseling to these young students especially those for whom the JHS education is their terminal formal education?’ What we often see in most public schools today is that the system has inadvertently made JHS education to terminate with the sitting of the BECE. It is rather unfortunate our youths’ basic education ends this way because the basic education curriculum demands that the students learn a lot more things that are important but not covered by BECE. The last three months of the statutory period for basic education can be used in teaching such significant curricula areas as
In some private institutions, which house both the junior and senior high schools, the sitting of the BECE does not mark the end of JHS. The students remain in school preparing for the next level in the third term.
As a result of the 2007 review of the basic school curriculum, what used to be called Continuous Assessment (CA) had been overhauled to make assessment more comprehensive and renamed School-Based Assessment (SBA). Though SBA requires that JHS students do projects and be assessed in the significant curricula areas, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) continues to accept assessment records based on the outmoded CA for grading students. In other words, WAEC has been too slow in accommodating the new assessment reforms into its international assessment policies and guidelines.
One major advantage of the SBA, which many tend to ignore, is that the final term of the JHS and SHS programmes can be used for problem/project-based teaching so that students can carry out projects. At the moment many teachers are of the view that the duration for JHS and SHS education is inadequate to complete the overloaded syllabi. Besides, we are all aware of some of the misfortunes that beset many of the girl-students because of the long period they have to be at home waiting for their results. Many girls get pregnant in this process and are forced out of education. If the third term in the final year of basic education is devoted to a final project task set by the school or WAEC, then students will have the opportunity to remain in schools for the entire period of their basic education and SBA can focus on developing those significant learning objectives usually ignored in time limited paper-and-pencil tests such as the BECE. It is therefore high time the Ministry of Education comes out with a policy that will ensure all Ghanaian children take full advantage of the government’s free 3 years (and not 2⅔ years) of JHS education. Finally, since there are no failures in BECE, the general public, especially politicians, should be cautious in their pronouncements about BECE results, particularly where they interchange the words ‘qualify’ and ‘pass’.
Accra, May 15, GNA – Mr Samuel Oppong, National Coordinator of Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS), on Tuesday said results of the 2012 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) would be ready by July 30 for placements in August.
He said the list of all successful candidates and their schools would be submitted to the Regional and District Education Directorates, Senior High Schools (SHS), Technical and Vocational Institutes and Junior High Schools (JHS).
Mr Oppong was briefing the Minister of Education, Mr Lee Ocran, during a familiarisation visit to the Secretariat and inspect on-going projects as well as have a fair idea about how the placements were done.
He said the placement forms for individual candidates would be posted on the internet for each qualified student, adding that candidates would have access to their result slips and placement forms by printing from the internet.
Mr Oppong said the CSSPS since its inception in 2005 had worked to improve upon the manual system of selection and placement of qualified BECE candidates into public and private SHS, technical and vocational institutes, by using the total processed raw scores of six subjects instead of grades, by candidates for selection.
He explained that the Secretariat dealt with three categories of students for selection and placement every year which included qualified candidates who completed BECE that year, re-entry candidates who completed BECE three years ago and foreign students.
According to Mr Oppong, under the system, candidates could choose schools from any of the 10 Regions and that the selection and placement of candidates was more transparent adding, delays in the selection and placement of candidates had been reduced as well as human errors had been eliminated.
However, he said the Secretariat faced some challenges, including the non-acceptance of placement of results, inaccurate data provided by candidates during registration by the West African Examination Council, and lack of parental participation in the registration of their children.
The choice of school without reference to parent's financial preparedness, and availability of boarding facilities and programmes as well as parents' insistence that their children should be placed in their first choice schools were some of the challenges facing the Secretariat.
He noted that it had however, introduced school digest to advertise all SHS and T/VI , continued training of CSSPS frontline implementers, continued and intensified public education about activities of the CSSPS .
Mr Oppong said: “We have arranged with WAEC to release results to the general public and CSSPS Secretariat at the same time in 2012”.
He assured the Minister that the Secretariat was working round the clock to ensure that the 2012 selection and placement come out successful and on time.
Mr Ocran commended the Secretariat for their performance over the years to ensure success of the system since its inception in 2005.
He emphasised that the system had been transparent over the years and in the interest of all, and urged parents to understand and accept their children's placement in schools.
Mr Ocran urged the Secretariat to initiate a programme that would make parents have access and the opportunity to visit the Secretariat and observe how the placements were done, in order for them to clear all forms of misconceptions about their operations.
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