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Opinions of Saturday, 17 October 2015

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

School placement: parents should stop the dirge

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah
The results for this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) are out. Some candidates have done well and are rejoicing while others grieve over their seemingly weak scores. There may be some other children who are even unfazed about their outcomes. Actually, it is the future of the child after this level that matters.
Formerly, selection and placement of pupils into secondary, technical and vocational schools was done manually. Cards, photographs and particulars of pupils easily got missing and placement of such pupils usually suffered. That System was full of drudgery and errors. Most handlers of that System were usually seen as being corrupt. Choices of schools did not occur beyond the regions of candidates.
The Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) was introduced in 2005 to replace the Manual School Selection and Placement System (MSSPS). The CSSPS has its own challenges but it is faster and much more efficient than the MSSPS was. It operates as a secretariat under the Secondary Education Division of the Ghana Education Service (GES). It selects and places candidates in accredited public and private senior high, technical and vocational schools based on raw scores (not grades) in subjects, such as English Language, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Social Studies (for those going to senior high schools), Basic Design and Technology for technical and vocational students in addition to one other best grade from Religious and Moral Education, Information Communication Technology, Ghanaian Language and French.
Information published by the CSSPS on captioned, “Facts about the Computerized School Selection and Placement System” states in part, “The computer automatically does the selection and placement of candidates based on candidates’ performance and choices (schools and programmes) made. The results of the selection and placement are dispatched to all senior high schools, technical and vocational institutes; and copies made available to all junior high schools, regional and district offices of GES on time.”
The understanding is that once the candidate has written and passed in all subjects, he or she must be placed. CSSPS would always correct any anomaly that arises in the discharge of its duty. We, therefore, plead with parents to be patient and tolerant a bit at this crucial time.
Any candidate who defers admission to a school in a particular year with such reasons as ill health, loss of parent(s) and dissatisfaction with placement can apply for re-entry. Re-entry forms are available at all offices of GES for a fee. As a matter of policy, successful candidates who have stayed out of school for up to three academic years can apply for re-entry.
Officers of the CSSPS appreciate the anxiety of parents regarding placement. They have assured us that all qualified candidates shall be placed. The selection and placement process happens in phases and all emerging issues and difficulties will be resolved. The System has about 439,222 regular BECE holders, 114 private BECE holders and 2,025 re-entry candidates to place and they are on it. They need the peace of mind and co-operation from all of us to do it well.
Most parents and guardians appear hot now. As some visit the Public Relations (PR) Unit of the GES Headquarters to beg for their wards’ choices to be altered, others just accuse the CSSPS of inefficiency and bias because they are not happy with their placements. In fact, the queue for discontented parents at the PR Unit keeps lengthening on a daily basis but we are attending to them.
The public relations officer can also offer counselling services. Aside my training and practice of public relations, I also provide guidance and counselling services. School selection and placement is a guidance service and with my Masters degree in Educational Guidance and Counselling too, the task of convincing worried parents to accept the schools of their wards is easy. My senior colleagues and officers at the PR Unit, Reverend Jonathan Bettey, Mr. Issah Baffoe and Mr. Pius Attise are also available and doing their work well for CSSPS. We must not allow ignorance and misconceptions of parents and children to wound the integrity of the System.
A parent, for example, came to ‘cry’ over why his daughter was not placed at Krobo Girls Senior High School as another one was bitter about the fact that his child was given this school. Consumers have different tastes indeed. It is certainly not possible to meet everybody’s taste. The campaign for endurance on the part of parents and students is necessary.
To receive any information on school placement, CSSPS has this to say, “Text your index number + year of completion to short code 1060. For instance, if you completed your exams in 2012 and your index number is 12345678910, text 1234567891012 to short code 1060 on all networks. Do not leave a space between the index number and the year the exam was written. Do not also type the full year as in [2013], type [13] and send.”
GES assures the general public of its resolve to render quality selection and placement this year. Meanwhile, its doors are still open for complaints and petitions against unwarranted omissions and commissions for cure. We urge all our school heads, parents and directors to support GES for the CSSPS to be perfect. Let’s have confidence in the System and respect all schools as well.

The writer is an educationist and a Public Relations Officer at the Headquarters of the Ghana Education Service.