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Opinions of Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Columnist: Samuel Addo-Bonsrah

Is B.E.C.E the latest scam after sakawa?

By Samuel Addo-Bonsrah

For political expediency and to show that the government is doing well, public basic schools are being promoted in terms of the B.E.C.E over private schools. The effect is that the government is promoting mediocrity to say the least and destroying future leaders, and hence the future economy of this country on account of the fact that well trained human resources are the greatest assets that every nation can have.

In a study by Professor Addai Mensah, former vice chancellor of the University of Ghana, Legon, most students of public basic schools do not do well in the B.E.C.E and hence cannot progress to the second cycle institutions especially the 50 well endowed schools. Instead of the government improving the lot of the basic schools , it appears the government is rather taking a shortcut by condoning and conniving with W.A.E.C to mark down the results of the private basic schools and mark up the results of the public basic schools.

A case in point is the results of 2 cousins in the same house, one who is in the public basic school who could not read one single sentence correct and was being assisted in her studies by her cousin who was in a well endowed private school. The public school girl after the 2013 B.E.C.E was lamenting because she could not answer most of the questions and after going over the exam papers with their uncle who is a teacher, she realized that most of her answers were wrong whilst her cousin in the private school had almost scored everything.

When the 2013 B.E.C.E results came out recently, to the shock of the whole family, the public school girl had 6 ones whilst her private school cousin had aggregate 32. After receiving her results she, the public school student herself, claimed that the result was impossible and untrue. This is one example of similar numerous stories. Other concerned parents and even some public school teachers have noticed similar results to their amazement and shock.

It is interesting to note that many well endowed private schools have had some incredulous results with “A” star students getting aggregate 25,30,32 etc (an indication that they wrote next to nothing in the exam), giving to them in this past 2013 B.E.C.E. The schools, the teachers and the children have themselves challenged and called for a re-mark and some even called for the sighting of the papers to confirm those results. Should we then trust the integrity of the B.E.C.E or that of the W.A.E.C?

This strange policy, if it is true, is rather myopic and undermines the integrity of W.A.E.C and examinations in general in this country. To prevent this, parents of children in the private schools are now strategizing to withdraw their wards from the private schools when they complete J.H.S 2 and enroll them in public basic schools so that they would not be caught up in this strange phenomenon, but rather be marked up according to plan and go to their first choice public secondary schools. Others are withdrawing their children to prepare for the foreign examinations like the I.G.C.S.E to run away from this strange phenomenon.

In recent times, reputable foreign universities are rejecting the WASSCE because the examination has lost its credibility. Should the B.E.C.E be allowed to suffer the same fate? W.A.E.C redeem your image. Is there no better way to address the issue? It is possible for the performance of public schools to improve if things are put right.

What the government should do therefore is to:

• Provide the logistics for effective supervision taking a cue from the private sector, • Provide the needed facilities for teaching and learning,

• Meaningfully motivate the teachers and they will deliver, especially so because teachers of the public schools are mostly trained teachers.

There is absolutely no need to destroy:

• The confidence of the hardworking private schools’ candidates and prove that hard work doesn’t matter but mediocrity is accepted,

• The morale of hardworking private school teachers,

• The investment of private school owners,

• The integrity of the W.A.E.C examinations,

• Our educational system completely,

just to bring up the results of the public basic schools overnight.

We do not want to believe that the President, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama nor his Minister of Education, herself a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast are aware of what is happening and we trust that should they become aware, they would review this strange phenomenon immediately, especially so because he is the father of every Ghanaian student whether private or public.