General News of Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Source: Daily Graphic

400,000 students 'scramble' for space to write WASSCE

With a few weeks to the commencement of this year’s West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), serious challenges such as inadequate examination halls, invigilators and science laboratories for practicals have been identified.

The problem has been compounded by the fact that two streams of students, the four-year and the three-year senior high school (SHS) batches, are writing the examination.

Under the Kufuor administration, the duration of the SHS was increased from the then three years to four years but when President Mills assumed office in 2009, the government reverted it to three years.

This year, 409,832 candidates will sit the examination throughout the country, as against the 173,655 who wrote the examination last year.

Some of the schools are wondering how to handle the candidates when they write core subjects such as English Language, Mathematics, Integrated Science and Social Studies.

The challenge has necessitated the rescheduling of this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) from April to June.

The schools are, however, counting on the rescheduling of the school term by the Ministry of Education to enable first and second-year SHS students to go on holidays to create more room for examination halls.

Even after that plan has been implemented, the authorities would still have to address the challenges of facilities for science practicals and the provision of adequate invigilators to supervise the WASSCE.

Tim Dzamboe reports from Ho after a tour of some schools in the Ho municipality that the Assistant Headmaster in charge of Academic Affairs of the Mawuko Girls’ SHS, Mr Delight Dodzi Nyamuame, said 946 students had been registered for the examination.

He said there was the challenge of space to accommodate candidates for the Oral English paper, since four sets of candidates were billed for that paper.

He, however, said the school was prepared for the examination and that special training had been organised for invigilators to ensure that the WASSCE was devoid of malpractice.

At the OLA SHS, the Assistant Headmaster (Academic), Mr Lawrence Ochoga Asamoah, disclosed that 785 candidates were registered for the examination, while 30 teachers would be deployed for invigilation.

He said some invigilators were not happy with the GH¢3 paid to them and said it was a determining factor, as some of them accepted the task reluctantly.

At Mawuli School, the Assistant Headmaster (Academic), Rev Samuel Senanu Asieni, noted that 1,029 candidates were billed to write the examination in 30 classrooms, with less than 10 classrooms to be left for normal academic work.

He said the greatest challenge was how to contain the large number of candidates for Physics, Chemistry and Biology practicals because there was limited laboratory space, as well as inadequate equipment.

From Koforidua, A. Kofoya-Tetteh reports that the Ghana Education Service (GES) has directed first and second-year SHS students to vacate before the start of the WASSCE to make available additional classrooms to be used as examination halls.

However, SHSs in the New Juaben municipality are facing two main challenges — limited equipment for practical examinations by the large number of students offering Science, Home Economics and Visual Arts and the inability of third-year students to complete the examination syllabus.

Apart from these problems, it is anticipated that teachers to be engaged as invigilators will have to stay in the schools during vacation.

The teachers are also within the same period expected to mark the terminal examination scripts of first and second-year students and prepare reports.

Those, according to the heads of the schools, would pose a big challenge, since the teachers would be overworked and had to be given some form of incentive which had not yet been considered.

At the New Juaben SHS, both the Headmaster, Mr Yaw Asante, and the Assistant Headmaster, Mr Joseph Adu, pointed out that the inability of third-year students to complete the syllabus was the main challenge.

At the Ghana SHS, Effiduase, special classes are organised for third-year students to prepare them adequately for the WASSCE.

The Headmaster, Rev Abraham Osei Donkor, said third-year students were also taken through counselling to fine-tune them for the examination.

He said the only problem would be with equipment for practical examinations for Visual Arts, Home Economics and Science students.

Rev Donkor, who indicated that his school would present 1,145 students for the examination, said it would be a crisis period because the teachers who would mark terminal examination scripts for first and second-year students would at the same time invigilate those writing the WASSCE.

The situation seemed better at the Pope John SHS and Minor Seminary at Effiduase where 1,075 students will take part in the examination.

According to the Headmaster, Mr Isaac Larweh Odenkeh, third-year students had been given extra tuition which had made it possible for them to cover 95 per cent of the syllabus.

“We do not anticipate any serious challenges, except how to give some form of incentives to the teachers who are to stay in school when school vacates and invigilate and at the same time be engaged in other duties,” he stated.

At the Oti Boaten SHS (formerly Koforidua SHS) which is located at the centre of Koforidua, the Headmistress, Ms Ama Adu Larbi, said since the school had no assembly hall, all the 1,110 students who would take part in the examination would have to use the classrooms.

She was hopeful that the students would be able to do well in the examination.

The situation is almost the same in other schools in the area.

Marcelinus Dery reports from Tamale that many schools in the Northern Region lack adequate infrastructure and the authorities are feverishly putting measures in place to accommodate the two batches of candidates.

Mr Paul Apanga, the Upper East Regional Director of Education, who is also acting as the Northern Regional Director, disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in an exclusive interview in Tamale.

He said there must be a required number of invigilators working under a supervisor at every examination centre, adding that many schools which were used as examination centres might not have enough teachers to supervise candidates.

He said if the examination was to go ahead as originally scheduled, the issue of examination halls and invigilators would be terrible to handle.