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04.01.2006 General News

CSSS fraught with pitfalls - Addae-Mensah

By GNA
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Accra, Jan. 4, GNA - Professor Ivan Addae-Mensah, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, on Wednesday said the new computerised system of selection into Senior Secondary Schools was fraught with several potential pitfalls, which if not corrected, would deteriorate into something worse than the previous method. He said the current computerised system did not take regional, district or local equity or affirmative action into consideration but depended entirely on raw performance, which could introduce inequities that could be even difficult to detect.

Professor Addae-Mensah was making a presentation on: "The Educational System in Ghana: A Critical Analysis" at the 57th New Year School currently going on at the University of Ghana. It is under the theme: "Developing the Human Resource for Accelerated National Development."

He suggested that the selection process must use weighted averages of overall performance and best six subjects so that other subjects could also contribute to the final decision. "Let the computer select say 80 per cent of candidates for a school and let heads use their discretion to use the remaining 20 per cent to cater for other possibilities, including affirmative action allocations."

Professor Addae-Mensah said even though the new selection mechanism in theory looked much fairer than the old system, it left no room for consideration of other factors such as overall performance in all 10 subjects.

"Even though the old system also relied on the aggregate of grades that a candidate scored in the best six subjects, it allowed the heads of schools to distinguish between the quality of candidates with the same aggregates by looking at the quality of the grades in the remaining four subjects."

Professor Addae-Mensah said the new system which essentially abolished the old affirmative action of allocating a certain percentage for deprived areas located close to endowed secondary schools also had no place for protocol allocations.

He said the mechanism was so cumbersome that some candidates, who also happened to be the weaker students, had virtually missed the entire first term of the academic year.

Professor Addae-Mensah said computers could make mistakes adding that if schools were not involved at all, the system could easily fall prey to manipulations and fraud at a level where heads of schools would have absolutely no control.

"I do not believe all heads of schools are corrupt. Involve them in the selection mechanism. They know the schools, and they know the calibre of students; their contributions can be useful in eliminating inequities."

Touching on the general educational system in Ghana as a means of eradicating poverty, Professor Addae-Mensah said the system in Ghana did not lead to poverty alleviation because the rural and urban poor were severely handicapped.

He said unless the system was drastically overhauled to provide equal access to all sections of the population particularly at the basic level, it would continue to perpetuate poverty.

Professor Addae-Mensah said if avenues were to be created for the vast army of unemployed and unemployable youth being thrown out of the current education system, there was the need for an overhaul of the technical and vocational educational system.

He said with over 70 per cent of the population falling within the educable population, 51 per cent of which was 19 years and below, it meant that the country should adopt sound long-term policies to educate this population and reduce the current unacceptable high illiteracy rate.

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