The first question which came to the lips of every concerned Ghanaian when the Director of Education announced last week that the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) would be written in June instead of April, as it was formerly being done, is 'Is the Ghana Education Service about to change the academic calendar for senior high schools, from January to December, instead of the current September to August, which will eventually change that of the tertiary institutions? Or are we going to use haste in marking BECE, computing the marks, releasing results, and doing the placement?
Come to think of this, and one would realise that the Ghana Education Service or the Ministry of Education has not subjected the above stated steps to see whether these are practicable or impracticable. On this note, I would suggest that the Ministry and GES must go back to the drawing board.
Dear country men and women, let us critically analyze what was formerly pertaining and what is coming next year. Look, the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) is written in April, marked in May, and the results released in July. Computer placement starts in August, the first batch of placed students comes out in October ending, students enter their first year in mid-November, and schools vacate in mid-December. Students, therefore, spend barely one month in school.
Now let us look at the new model we are going to use in June 2013. The examination will be written in June, marked in July, the results released in September, computer placement would start in October, and the first batch of placed students come in December. It would then be perfect if the Senior High School calendar starts its first term in January.
One reason which the GES gave in changing the examination from April to June is to give the students the opportunity to use the full length of the third term, so that they would perform well. This reason given did not go down well with me, because there several loop-holes which the GES must address, but is refusing to do.
First, the issue of over-staffing and under-staffing in the Basic schools. It is very sad, sympathetic and wonderful that in almost every district capital in Ghana, there are schools which are over-staffed, where some teachers who are related, close, and affiliated to the Directorate are attached, they do not teach, but receive their salaries every month. These teachers do business and alternate teaching with other colleagues.
The saddest part is that one moves just seven kilometres from that district capital, and one finds an understaffed Junior High School being manned by three teachers, namely Prospero, Mirinda and Caliban, on an island. How can such understaffed schools perform at the BECE?
The issue of under and overstaffing and loose supervision must be addressed by the GES.
Currently, another canker that has infested some of the Basic school teachers is the using of that instructional periods to solve their sandwich weekend assignments. The ironical part is that schools that are close to the office of the GES Directorate are sometimes victims, because most of the teachers in these schools are holy sons and relatives of the officers. This is added to the already existing irregularity, lateness and absenteeism.
For the computer placement, I would wish those in charge must brainstorm and strategise to reduce the three months being used now, to two, then to one.
If the placement would start from mid-August and end in the mid-September, it would enable first year students enter school at the end of September.
I hope the GES will assess the new proposal for 2013 again, in the light of my analysis before using it.
Written by, Christopher Kwablah, Donkorkrom Agric Senior High School, Box 2, Donkorkrom.