BECE Postings: Matters Arising!

In a letter to the Daily Graphic of Wednesday, 30th September 2009, I asked why a student cannot get a first choice school. After discussing the issue with the Minister of Education (MOE), the Chief Director of MOE, and after the explanations provided by the head of the public relations department of MOE and the developer of the software used for the postings, if the information provided is “as is”, then I can say that the process of the postings is transparent, very transparent. However, it is not acceptable, for several reasons.

First, the ultimate responsibility of choice must rest with the student and provision must be made for a student to choose the subject to study and in which school to study. If there is lack in this area, then conscious effort must be made by the government to address this lack once and for all. This must be treated as an issue of national importance. It can be done! Do not react as usual with excuses.

Second, is “why should there be specialization at the SHS level?” All students at that level need very broad and solid foundation in education in the areas of science (includes technical and vocational), arts (includes languages and social studies), and business (includes entrepreneurship). A good education for any student finishing SHS should not make such student a novice in any of these areas specified. As such, if any student goes to any SHS school in Ghana, these three areas are covered for his or her education. It can even be argued that specialization should not be at the first degree level; it should rather be a liberal arts education. How much more at the SHS level? Serious specialization should begin at the masters’ degree level. We need to raise the stakes for quality education.

Third, the range for getting grade 1 is too wide: 70% to 100%. We need to be a little bit innovative in this case. We can change the grading to something like: grade 1 = 90% - 100%; grade 2 = 80% - 89%; grade 3 = 70% - 79%; et cetera. We must create and adopt systems that are meaningful and serve us better. I remember the system of grading became a bone of contention in the polytechnics and the universities a few years ago. Has the problem been solved?

Fourth, education of the public on this issue does not seem to be adequate and timely. Many suggestions have already been made in this direction. Furthermore, much more care must be taken during the stage where students fill the forms to avoid the mistakes they make that create some of the problems being experienced. Not everybody reads the explanations provided in the news papers or on television. What has become of the information services department of the Ministry of Information? It used to be that government policies were taken to the doorsteps of ordinary people in the remotest parts of the country to keep them informed. Dr. Nkrumah used that effectively. Why can’t it be done now to supplement other ways of keeping the whole population informed on important issues like the BECE postings? A lot of the confusion and the frustrations occurring could have been avoided if widespread information had been available.

The government must expedite action on providing equal opportunities for students to experience quality education wherever they are in the country. Teachers must be well motivated to teach anywhere in the country. We have the resources to do these things. We only need to re-arrange our priorities. Fixing the economy, health problems, sanitation blues, and whatever problems there are, must begin with provision of good quality education. That’s what the Asian Tigers (Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, etc.) did. When shall we learn and have the political will to implement what is good for Ghana? Da ben?

-Prof. S.E. Anku
President, Ghana Mathematics Society

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