WAEC agrees to hold resit exams for BECE candidates

PupilsStudents who fail the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) will, from February 2015, be allowed to resit the examination as private candidates.

This follows an agreement reached between the government and the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to allow students who fail in BECE to resit as private candidates.

According to the Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the policy would be rolled out in September 2014 for the first batch of failed BECE candidates to rewrite in February 2015.

The policy, he explained, was to allow students who failed the BECE to improve on their grades and qualify for placement in senior high and technical schools.

One hundred and eighty two thousand candidates who sat this year’s BECE did not pass in the core subjects.

They could, therefore, not be placed in any of the public senior high schools (SHS) by the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).

Similar to WAEC’s November/December resit for WASSCE candidates, the initiative by the government will put to rest the concerns raised by the public about the fate of candidates who fail the BECE.

Currently, those who fail the BECE have to repeat a whole academic year before they can get the chance to write the examination again to enter SHS.

The situation sometimes discourages candidates who fail to repeat because of the stigma associated with writing the examination with their juniors.

Speaking at the graduation of the African University College of Communications (AUCC) in Accra on Saturday, Mr Ablakwa said the decision was also part of the reforms being undertaken by the ministry towards making the educational system more flexible and accessible to every child.

“Our policy now is that we do not want to leave any child behind and we want to also cut down protocol arrangements because the students have only one chance to enter SHS,” he stated.

Mr Ablakwa said the ministry had embarked on a number of reforms to ensure that the educational cycle was improved to give students access and quality education.

As a result of the interventions of the government, he said, the colleges of education which had limited capacity to admit many students had now improved on their intake.

So far, he said, the colleges had improved access from 9,000 in 2012 to 15,340 this year.

The government, Mr Ablakwa said, was also working to ensure that the 10 polytechnics in the country awarded their own degrees, beginning from 2014.

He commended private investors for their contribution to education, saying the private universities admitted more than half of WASSCE candidates eligible to go to the university.

“It is evident that without the private universities, education in the country would have been at the crossroads as far as access and quality are concerned,” he stated.

Mr Ablakwa reiterated the government’s commitment to the improvement of tertiary education to enhance human resource capacity.
Nonetheless, he encouraged private universities to focus more on science courses, since the country needed human resource in those fields.

Source: Daily Graphic

1 Comment
  1. Kofi Mereku (UEW) says

    It is rather unfortunate that the Minister thinks ‘a student fails in the BECE’. This erroneous conception of basic education system began to change in the mid-2000s with the report of the BECE grading system committee (see full paper by Mereku & Akyeampong (2008) at this link: http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajesms/article/view/61567). Today, there are NO FAILURES in BECE, see grade descriptions at the back of the BECE certificate issued by WAEC. The so called “pass” in BECE, defined as gaining an aggregate range of 6-30 in the best six subjects with a grade 5 or better in the core subjects (i.e. Mathematics, English, Integrated Science and Social Studies), has clouded the purpose of the examination making people to inadvertently use the BECE results to label the majority of students who complete JHS as failures even though no one fails by the standards guiding the BECE.
    I don’t know which body of the MOE is pushing WAEC to carry out this major national curriculum decision without the opinion of the general public or electorate. I think the subject should be well debated before any such action is implemented because the reasons given by the Minister for the policy shift are based on a weak understanding of the basic education system.
    Since its inception, the BECE has focused on selection of few above average students who qualify to offer programmes at the Senior High SHS level. Presently due to the limited number of entrants that SHS can absorb, NOT all JHS candidates who qualify (i.e. obtain aggregate not more than 30) are placed by the CSSPS. The majority of the JHS leavers who cannot be placed by the CSSPS and/or those who enter into apprenticeship are as all labeled failures by people who know very little about basic (or comprehensive) education system. To these people, the major aim of basic education is to prepare students for SHS. This narrow view of basic education had made Mr. K. B. Asante (the renowned journalist and senior citizen) to describe the BECE some two and a half decades ago as the ‘The Examinations that Failed’ (see Daily Graphic March 11, 1996).
    In many parts of the world today, basic or compulsory education covers the entire secondary education, but in many developing countries including Ghana, basic education covers only up to JHS as a result of numerous reasons and in Ghana students completing at JHS are expected to write a competitive selection test (i.e. BECE) instead of a general school leaving exam which tests national minimum standards. The results of such tests are used to place the students in grammar-type (or selective) secondary schools. A comprehensive or community school is a public school that does not select its intake on the basis of academic achievement or aptitude. This is in contrast to the selective SHS system, where admission is restricted on the basis of selection criteria. In Ghana JHS education is comprehensive or community school, but SHS education is not.
    The comprehensive or community system is based on the principle of one type of secondary school for everyone. Students of all abilities and from all social backgrounds attend the same type of schooling. They are provided with the same opportunities to obtain qualifications and training. There is no entrance examination and each school has a specific catchment area, a particular area from which it pupils are drawn. In comprehensive or community schools there are no “gifted” programs, and the more able children are expected to help those who are slower to catch on.
    Therefore instead of pushing an agenda for the introduction of a BECE re-sit examinations, the Ministry should get all stakeholders to take another look at the examination which according to Mr. K. B. Asante had failed. The way forward is to introduce two different exams – one for ALL, which will be basic school leaving certificate exams that will cover national minimum standards in three subjects (i.e. literacy, numeracy and general paper) – and the other for those who wish to be selected into programmes at the SHS. This also has implications for the 50 or 100 SHS that the government is planning to put up. Are they going to be modeled on the current grammar-type (or selective) high schools or they will be established as proper community high schools?

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