Sunyani Business Senior High School SUBSEC, as one of the few non-assisted SHS to succeed and thrive over the years since the inception of the SSS system, we fought for, but to no avail, private schools’ inclusion in the manual selection and placement system. The private SHS sector therefore had mixed feelings when the Computerised School Selection Placement System (CSSPS) was announced and finally introduced in 2009.
The problems the CSSPS had last year is still fresh in the minds of the Ghanaian society and need not to be retold here; in the minds of parents, the JHS leavers, teachers, school administrators and the government alike. On the part of SHSs, the non-assisted / private schools bore the greater proportion of the numerous problems the computerised placement system caused.
The 2010 admissions season is just around the corner and Sunyani Business Senior High School SUBSEC, like all well-meaning stakeholders and Ghanaians at large, is once more concerned about how better the computerised placement system will be this time.
And It is the reason why the article below has been re-echoed here.
2010 SHS Placements – How ready are we?
If the experience of last year’s Senior High School (SHS) “misplacements”, courtesy the Computerised School Selection Placement System (CSSPS), is something to go by, the Ministry of Education should have learnt its lessons by now and taken prudent remedial measures to prevent any recurrence.
Ghanaian parents and the media would also have been so much concerned to participate and take keen interest in any intervention employed to prevent last year’s mess. Today, thousands of Ghanaian children who passed the 2009 BECE are still home, because their parents could not and cannot afford 1,000 GHC a term private secondary education-all because of the mishaps of a carelessly managed SHS selection and placement system.
The average BECE pass rate since 2005 has been 60%, which suggests that some 411,000 candidates out of the 680,000 registered BECE candidates are expected to qualify for placements. Sadly, the trajectory of education transition in the past five years suggests that only 35% of the 680,000 BECE candidates will successfully secure admissions into second cycle institutions. Any further aggravation of this plight by the CSSPS will only rub salt through fresh wounds. This article is in apparent reference to pronouncements by Dr Annan, a deputy Minister of Education. In an interview granted JOY News, Dr. J.S Annan remarks among others that ….”there is a new software for the computerized placement system, which is faster and more reliable”. He further asserts that, interest groups in education have put in a lot of efforts to ensure the system is better and free of controversy”. Listening to Dr. J.S Annan, should bring a measure of relief to Ghanaians, but with cautious optimism. In Ghana, mere verbal assurances by politicians on important issues of national concern have always not been enough, if not deceptive.
Does the Ministry of Education claim the new system is faster, and for that matter better? To the best of my knowledge, the problem with the CSSPS was not merely about speed, but rather about efficiency, discrimination and precision in placements. It assigned students who were not deaf to schools for the deaf, placed poor students from Mirekukrom D/A JHS in a deprived district like Twifo Praso, to Tumu Secondary School, without recourse to whether the poor peasant parents could afford the cost of relocating their children to attend SHS up north, nor the fact that there is a SHS in Twifo Praso. Apart from that, the CSSPS in 2009, graded candidates using raw scores, which suggested, that core subjects were no more ‘core’ and that 90% in mathematics was inferior to 91% in Ga.
To compound the problem of school placements, there were allegations by the Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) to the effect that ‘top ups’ of up to 5 points were given to public school candidates, as a means of securing a leverage with private schools. This, according to GNAPS was among the reasons why private school candidates were the most hit by the CSSPS crisis of 2009. These were the causes of the CSSPS crisis in 2009, and not just the pace of placement. The question is what concrete measures has the Ministry adopted to solve these enumerated concerns? What operational attributes of this so called new software assures Ghanaians, that there will be no misplacements, without recourse to geographical and economic backgrounds of children, no discriminatory top ups in marks, no wrong admissions into school for the deaf and a faster placement in 2010?
The Deputy Ministers remarks also suggest that some interest groups have been involved in the process. Which particular interest groups were involved? To what extent were they involved? Were they only informed, as it is usually done and sadly referred to as “participation” in Ghana, or there was a consensus? The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition represents the citizenry on education policy making platforms; the Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) represents the voices of some 1.4 million children who attend private basic schools in Ghana. If these two organizations were not involved in the so called consultation on the new CSSPS software, then which other Ghanaian interest, representative of the poor farmer in Mirekukrom was involved?
We cannot wait for another catastrophe to befall Ghana in September, when children are ready to enrol in senior high schools. We are not sure about what has been done, and the extent to which it solves the root causes of last year’s CSSPS crisis. Parents, Teachers, Children, Civil Society Organizations, and the Media want to know what Government has done now, to assure us of a brighter September 2010. After the right thing is done with consensus, the media and CSO’s will follow up with the education and informative aspects of the policy. Mr Minister, please re open consultations on the CSSPS now and involve all education stakeholders, including parents and children who were affected by last year’s mess.
Education Policy Analyst