Decision to deny 36 894 students access to SHS/TVET is counterproductive

Free Shs Logo1 The Free SHS policy is taking effect this academic year

Sun, 10 Sep 2017 Source: Desmond Allotey-Pappoe

Every child has the right to Education, hence, the interest of now and previous Government to provide quality basic education for all children of school-going age as enshrined in the 1992 constitution.

Over the years, there have been a plethora of Education Reforms, all boiled to restructure the content of the pre-tertiary education system.

Currently, Government aims at redefining basic education to include secondary education, covering technical, vocational and agriculture education ( 2017 Budget ) and by this the State is focused on providing a Free and quality education to all school-going children from Kindergarten to SHS/ TVET.

Also, Government hints of cancelling the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) (an examination which promotes Junior High School (JHS) students to Senior High Schools in the country)

The above is laudable since "BECE remains an albatross around the neck of pupils in which students are deliberately failed because of the system"

BECE uses the stanine grading system and it compares and rank students in relation to one another.

One interesting aspect of the BECE which grades pupils from Grade 1 (highest) to Grade 9 (Lowest) is that it fails no child.. Grade 9 doesn't translate as 'failure'.

With the stanine grading system, it is theoretically impossible to obtain a 100% pass thus, the move by MOE/ GES to deny 36, 849 candidates’ access to SHS/ TVET on grounds of recording Grade 9 in either English or Mathematics is counterproductive.

There are so many variables to consider before outputs of BECE candidates are comprehensively analysed. Examples include Curriculum, Teacher quality, Pupil- teacher ratio, Infrastructure, Teachings aids, Parental involvement in learning, Teacher Pedagogical skills etc.

Every child has his or her learning needs and challenges, thus it is incumbent on stakeholders of education to assist the child to develop his/her learning potentials

To say a child has "failed" in BECE thus denying him/ her an opportunity to access SHS/TVET education is synonymous to echoing that the "Education System' has failed the child.

Each child must be given a safe transition from JHS to SHS/TVET. No child should be left behind.

Currently there are over 512 000 declared vacancies at SHS /TVIs across the country and this outnumber the 460 941 candidates who sat for the 2017 BECE Even with the addition of 10,000 students who wrote their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in previous years (but could not enrol for various reasons), it is practically possible for every child to be captured i.e. (470 941 candidates) and placed by the CSSPS into any SHS/TVET

Denying children access to Basic Education raises questions on participation, equity and social justice which has become a global benchmark, particularly in the context of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 4 of improved learning outcomes for all. A close diagnostic analysis would reveal that majority of the pupils from the placement fall out (36, 849 candidates) are from deprive school communities/ rural areas/ families with low income status- and these are the ones who need the #FreeSHS most.

The MOE/GES needs to revise its stance on the fate of these children for we are jeopardising our quest in bridging the gap between the rich and poor.

Desmond Allotey-Pappoe Research fellow// Teacher//Edu- blogger M. ED Educational Adm & Management desspapps@gmail.com www.dessmondpappoe.wordpress.com 0207207200

Columnist: Desmond Allotey-Pappoe
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