DIAGNOSING THE ILLS OF GHANA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM -Part I (To scrap Or Not To Scrap BECE)
The Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) is an external examination conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) for final year students of the Junior High School (JHS). The new education reforms rolled out by the then PNDC at the back of the work done by the Dzobo Committee mandated the school-going child in Ghana to spend nine years from class 1 to JHS 3— six years primary school plus three years JHS programme.Since its inception in 1987, the BECEhas always been the yardstick for measuring who qualifies from the JHS to enter or gain admission into the SHS. The BECE undoubtedly marks a conspicuous and an organised end of the nine year basic education.The examination prepares and ushers the JHS student onto a new, higher level of education known as the second-cycle.Junior High School graduates who are unable to continue their education beyond this point present their BECE certificates, when required, for work and apprenticeship programmes. For some of these people, this certificate is the only educational or academic document they might ever possess in their life time as testimonial of their education.
As a teacherwho has taught for almost two decades in our beloved country, I have observed that anticipating the BECE every year has always kept students busy in terms of studies. The BECE in essence whips up the urgency of the students towards their books. Have you thought of the possible drastic and dramatic rise in truant cases that would be recorded in the schools if it were announced today that there would be no more BECE henceforth? What would motivate me then, as a JHS three student, if I knew for sure that the last exam I wrote in the second year was my last. Need I be in class at all?And for what purpose?
After all, if there are no forthcoming exams to compel me to account to any stakeholder of my seriousness and dexterity in studying or otherwise, what will kindle in me the necessary feverishness and trepidationto master my subjects in order to exhibit specific desired outcomes to meet specific needs. There has been arguments back and forth supporting the scraping of the BECE. In the event that this proposal sees the light of day, doom would automatically have been spelt on our already crumbling educational system.Why do I say so?
In addition to the points I have raised and expatiated upon above, the truth that our educational system is getting politicized already is a fact. It is this politicization that has led to the often frequent changes in theJSS/JHS andSSS/SHS curricula. This change comes with the printing of new syllabi, Teachers Handbooks and Students’ Textbooks.Some new concepts are always incorporated into the existing programmes when these materials are published.Sometimes too, some concepts are modified and or upgraded or downgraded according to policy direction.At other times, there is reclassification and or integration of subjects or some subjects of the curriculum. Now, as a policy maker or implementer, how do you effectively assess my assimilation of the new concepts and competencies that you want me to acquire?
There has been talk of external assessment replacing the exams.What we are calling external assessment itself is not what it is, since students’ scores are forwarded by the class and subject teachers in the schools. Has the cumulative records system of assessing students’ internal work been effective? What shows that someone in some office somewhere can better assess a student than an old proven and tested method as examinations? What measures have been put in place to check inevitable upsurge in irregularities of all sorts that could be perpetrated by these so called assessment officers? In the face of falling discipline and control in the schools, how do we intend to tackle truancy and carefreeness on the part of students and teachers respectively?
You see, it is not just advancing the argument that; it is the path which many nations have now taken so we must follow suit. In as much as copying is a very easy and basic way of learning, doing it blindly is equally as inimical to development as not trying anything at all.
Source: Fie Ebenezer