It is estimated that 400,000 Junior High School (JHS) students will sit for this year's Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE). The examination will commence on Monday, June 5, 2017 and will end on Friday, June 9, 2017.
The BECE, for now, is a major determinant of the destinies of 1000s Ghanaian children as those who are unable to gain admission into the secondary, technical, and vocational schools due to poverty or failure in the exams find themselves on the street.
This year's BECE is a special one; it's a special one because the government has indicated its willingness and commitment to make it free for all students who will pass and be placed into public senior high, agriculture, technical and vocational schools by the Computer School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) of the GES.
What is not clear to me, and I am sure majority of Ghanaians is what constitutes a pass. My doubt is incensed by the partisan nature the BECE cut-off point has been subjected to for the past few years.
In recent past, grade 6 in a particular BECE subject was considered a pass and when a student was able to get grade 6 in 5 subjects, the student was given aggregate 30. This aggregate 30 thus, became the cut-off point for the selection and placement of the graduates into secondary schools.
However, there have been occasions where JHS graduates with aggregate 40 and above are considered admission into some public schools, something which was a worry to majority of Heads of our Educational Institutions.
There is a rumour that, the NPP government under President Nana Akufo-Addo intends to bring the cut-off point to aggregate 21. The reason being that, a few could make it to the secondary level to lessen the financial burden of the government as the free SHS takes off in September.
For me, if that is the intention of the government, then it is dangerous and I would be disappointed. This is because, most students in the public schools, especially in the rural areas and less-endowed schools would be at a disadvantage.
For instance, in some of these less-endowed schools in the hinterlands, the best aggregate sometimes begins from 26. How could these students, most of whom are from the poor families, enjoy the free SHS? How does the NPP's intention of redefining basic education to encompass senior high school be comes a reality? And don't we think that only the children of the rich will enjoy the free SHS?
I learnt that the proprietors of private senior high schools are pushing for the cut-off point to be low so that, the rejected students after the Computer Placements could enrol at the private schools to keep them in business. If this is true, then I am sorry for Ghana.
Whilst wishing all BECE Candidates, including my lovely eldest daughter, Yaa Boatemaa Agyemang the best of luck, I would urge the Hon. Minister of Education and for that matter, the government to come clear on the cut-off point for the 2017 BECE. This will remove any doubts in the minds of parents and students.
God bless Ghana!! God bless 2017 BECE Candidates!! God bless Nana Akufo-Addo!!!
Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang - 0202471070