BECE 2017: Another opportunity to tell some kids that they are not good enough

Bece Bunk File photo

Wed, 7 Jun 2017 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Many people in the country who have lost their way in life with no skill and hope for the future will attribute their problems to their failure to pass the BECE.

Every year, we show a lot of children the exit door in their quest to progress to the next level in education and give themselves a chance to a better future.

From BECE, the sieving begins, continues to SHS and only a few are able to recover from the setback because JHS remedial has never been fashionable and definitely not working for parents who couldn’t afford a better Private School that would have guaranteed their kids a place in their dream Secondary School ones and for all

Of those who failed their BECE and therefore didn’t qualify for SHS, some learnt engineering and can now fix every broken car. Some can just look at you and sew a perfect outfit for you. They were intelligent after all

We need to scrap BECE and make SHS the first exit with more focus on practical knowledge. So many lives get messed up because after two and half years in school, they fail the one week exams and are declared not good enough.

By saying a child who fails JHS is disqualified from entering SHS or ineligible, we are simply saying that if you don't pass your JHS, you don't have the capacity to do well in SHS. What scientific research went into this?

Did the system take into consideration the fact that some people are late developers in academics and that even though they may fail in JHS, they can be the best in SHS?

My brother is an example. He was so poor in JHS but turned out to be one of the best at SNAPPS College that they made him assistant boys perfect. There are so many examples.

Those whose parent gave up on them by way of academics opted to be trained on the job and can now repair cars, repair television, repair mobile phones and connect an entire household to electricity.

We live in houses built by people declared not good enough, wired by people declared not good enough with most of our furniture coming same category of people. If an education system cannot accommodate someone who can repair a fridge, then the problem is not the person but the system

No one can convince me that these people were not intelligent enough to further their education.

The problem is that we have an education system that deals with specifics with little attention to the individual's talent and ability. If he can't define osmosis, he is deemed a failure because defining osmosis, solving simultaneous equation is the standard of our education and not developing the inherent talent of people.

We have Professors in engineering who can't solve a single problem with a car engine.

The boy who can fix a car's engine problem is deemed unintelligent because he can't figure out the theories but can solve the problem without wasting papers and ink. Maybe we need to take a second look at our system and do something about it.

The daily lives of majority of Ghanaians revolves around simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and yet they waste so many years in school on factorisations, simultaneous equation, algebra and are called failures for failing to find X

Education must answer the basic questions of life and not to promote theories of people that are subject to debate.

The focus must be to bring out the God given talents in people. If we look at education as making people excel in their area of strength, we won't call anyone not good enough for failing to answer sets of questions on a sheet of paper in exams.

Those who fail are simply those who can't fit into the laid down rules because it does not conform to what God planted in them.

They fail because of system failure and not because they have empty brains. We need to give it a second look because education must have relevance in our daily lives.

We need a total overhaul of the current system and replace it with one that is Ghana focussed and globally competitive.

We can compete globally with any system that brings the best out of the Ghanaian. Everyone has got the potential to be great somewhere and education must be the key to unearthing that potential.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have an education system that enables student to fix a spoilt television, develop software, sew suit after SHS if that is what they want to do.

On a lighter note: I assured a lady friend I was trying to woo back in 2006 that I will help her prepare for her remedial exams. It was my strategy for getting close to her. Calling out the subjects I will be helping her handle, I mistakenly added Maths. I wanted to correct what I said but her reaction stopped me.

She exhaled and thanked God. It was all that she needed at that material moment -someone to help solve the Maths assignment.

It was Simultaneous Equation. I tried my best but her teacher said it was wrong and I lost her completely. I am still looking for that X which kept me glued to a seat in front of her house for well over two hours.

It was her third crack at remedial so she wasn’t taking chances. After 5 years she gave up and decided to do ACCA. She is now a Chartered Accountant, gainfully employed. How bad was she? It was the system that wasted 5 years of her life and not the fact that she was unintelligent enough.

She made it because there was a family with the means and commitment to get her to the very top. What about those who don’t have that kind of backing? They give up after we confirm to them that they are not good enough.

Sadly, most of the people who fail the BECE are those whose parents are unable to take them to quality private schools where passage to SHS is almost guaranteed.

Countless people have proven our education system wrong and yet we are not making any serious effort to deal with some of the issues

The free SHS is meant to deal with access but only available to those who can make it to SHS. It is free-SHS so it makes sense. The truth however is that it makes the policy a joke when you look at the profile of those likely to benefit and those who will miss out.

The biggest barrier to accessing SHS is BECE: those who miss out the most are the poor people who are unable to take their kids to quality JHS that guarantees passage to SHS. It means the poor people in the villages with poor foundation by way of education will still not get access to Free SHS

The policy is supposed to give every Ghanaian access to SHS. Sadly, we have put BECE in the way of students and the most vulnerable remain the very people who can’t afford SHS.

This simply means that those who already don’t have access will forever remain at the fence.

So far, Free SHS will be the only pro poor policy that will serve the haves better than the don’t-haves. (Watch out for my detailed article on this subject)

To make SHS universally accessible and Free SHS worth the TAX Payer’s money, BECE must be taken out of the system and SHS made the first exit for student. Student should enter SHS from JHS like they did from Class 6 to JHS without drama.

People see BECE as promotion: I see it as the point where many potentially good students and talented kids with poor foundation are told they are not good enough.

The whole issue of one examination to decide it all needs a look at because in a world revolving around innovation and out of the box thinking, students should in no way be limited to formulas and definitions.

The most successful people in this world are those who broke the rules and implement their own theories to do what was once impossible according to the rules. Our system rewards copy and paste than creativity.

I still can’t figure out how useful finding X has been in my career as a journalist.

I didn’t need X after all.

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh