This year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) took off on monday with a few hitches at some of the centres.
While the examination started behind schedule at some centres, at other centres invigilators threatened to boycott the exercise over the inability of the Ghana Education Service (GES) to pay them their accrued allowances.
But one major hitch occurred at Gabatia, a farming community in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District in the Northern Region, where parents and some residents prevented the candidates from writing the examination at Gbankoni.
Samuel Duodu reports from Tamale that candidates from Gabatia were prevented from taking part in the BECE because of a conflict between their community (Gabatia) and Gbankoni, where they were scheduled to write the examination.
The parents and some residents who took that action yesterday morning said they could not allow their children to write the BECE at Gbankoni.
Their reason was that there was a conflict between Gabatia and Gbankoni over a parcel of land, with tension still high in the two communities.
The community members claimed they informed the educational authorities about the issue and asked them to give them a new centre in their community instead of Gbankoni, but that did not materialise and so they would not allow their children to go and write the examination at Gbankoni.
According to some of the parents and residents, once there was a pending conflict between the two communities over a parcel of land, the safety of their children could not be guaranteed.
Last year, Gabatia and Gbankoni clashed over a parcel of land and there is still tension between the two communities.
As of the time of filing this report at 12.30p.m. yesterday, the candidates from Gabatia had still not reported to the examination centre at Gbankoni for fear of being attacked by the people there.
But candidates from Tumoli, Gbangdian and Yopani who also use Gbankoni as their examination centre reported at the centre to take part in the examination.
Request for exams centre
When contacted, the Northern Regional Director of Education, Alhaji Mohammed Haroon, who said he was indisposed, could not provide the number of candidates from Gabatia who had refused to go to Gbankoni to write the examination.
He said the Gabatia community had written to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) about four months ago for the examination centre to be changed but WAEC could not do so.
Alhaji Haroon stated that the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District Security Committee (DISEC) had met with the community on the issue but the meeting ended inconclusively, only for the community to take that decision yesterday not to allow their children to take part in the BECE once the examination centre remained at Gbankoni.
A total of 40,406 candidates were registered for the examination in the Northern Region this year, with 38,500 coming from public schools, while 1,906 are from private schools.
The candidates comprise 22,174 boys and 18,232 girls.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District Director of Education, he refused to comment on the matter, saying he had been ordered from above not to comment on it.
Efforts to get the number of affected candidates from him were also not successful, as he insisted that he had been ordered from above not to answer any questions on the issue.
In Accra, the Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, after touring some centres, warned officials designated to conduct the BECE that the government would not tolerate any lateness on their part, reports Severious Kale-Dery.
“We have pointed it out to them that there is absolutely no excuse for lateness. They knew when the examination was to start and things like traffic being an impediment will not be accepted from tomorrow going.
“This government, as has been pointed out time and again, is very sensitive about punctuality and the President has said it over and over again. We urge everybody to come along with the President in instilling discipline in society,” he stated.
The advice from Prof. Yankah followed the late start of the examination at some centres where the candidates waited for the officials who arrived with the examination papers after the official starting time of 9 a.m.
Prof. Yankah was accompanied by the acting Director-General of the GES, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwah, and his two acting deputies, Mrs Cynthia Bosomtwi-Sam, in charge of Basic Education, and Mr Anthony Boateng, in charge of Management Services, as well as other officials.
The minister and his entourage visited six centres, including the Kanda Cluster of Schools, Accra High School, Achimota Basic and Preparatory School, Achimota School and Anunmle Junior High School.
Prof. Yankah said the officials scheduled to administer the examination should not use traffic as an excuse because they needed to take into consideration where they stayed and leave early enough to be able to get to the examination centres well before time.
Advising the students, he reminded them that the examination was particularly crucial to the government, as it was the first BECE that ushered the students directly into the free SHS programme.
Payment of allowances
Prof. Opoku-Amankwah assured all invigilators that the GES was working on the payment of their allowances.
He said the money would have been paid last week but that the Finance Unit of the GES needed to be sure of the right numbers.
There were reports that invigilators throughout the country had threatened to boycott the supervision of the BECE this year over the non-payment of accrued allowances.
But Prof. Opoku-Amankwah assured them that “before they finish this week, their money will be paid”.
Esther Omoha reports that the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Ga Central, Mr Ebenezer Lamptey, urged the candidates to stay away from any form of examination malpractice in the ongoing BECE.
After visiting three examination centres within the municipality, he said adequate measures had been put in place to ensure that the candidates in the municipality excelled in the examination.
He said education was a priority for the assembly, explaining that the candidates had undergone extra classes, been provided with logistics and counselled as a way of encouraging and motivating them to excel in the examination.
He encouraged them to be confident and not entertain any fear to enable them to excel, adding, “You should see this examination as one you have written before.”
In an interview, the Municipal Director of Education (MDE), Ms Denise Dinah Oye, urged the candidates to put in their best to maintain the standard set in the municipality.
The Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Mr Mohammed Adjei Sowah, promised to award scholarships to students in the public sector who would excel in the examination, reports Ohenewaa Osei-Appiah.
He made the promise when he visited selected BECE centres within the metropolis to encourage the candidates.
“If the results turn out to be very good, I may end up sponsoring more than the initial 10 students I had in mind and so candidates, please make me proud.
“Once you are still writing exams, you are still students and so take your books seriously and make Ghana, your parents and your teachers proud,” he said.
The Basic Schools Coordinator for Greater Accra, Mrs Rita Offei Darko, drove away some teachers who were found hanging around the centres during the visit, explaining that it was not allowed and could cause problems for the candidates should any WAEC official visit the centres.
“Teachers are not supposed to hang around the centres, apart from supervisors. Ideally, even headmasters are supposed to bring the candidates to the examination centres and present them to the supervisors.
“But that is not the case; the teachers bring the candidates and refuse to leave afterwards,” she explained