A total of 509,824 candidates from 16,060 basic schools will converge on 1,772 examination centres across the country today, Monday, June 4, 2018, to sit for the 2018 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
But even as the 263,295 males and the 246,529 females, representing an increase of 8.9 per cent over the 2017 figure of 468,060, sit for the examination, most of them will be apprehensive, as they are yet to get their choices of senior high schools (SHSs) fed into the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) system.
This follows the late submission of the new policy guidelines of the Ghana Education Service (GES) to be fed into the WAEC system to ensure the smooth placement of the candidates in their preferred SHSs.
The GES has, however, assured the candidates that it is extending the selection of SHSs by the 2018 BECE candidates by three weeks after the examination.
Explaining the cause of the delay in an interview with the Daily Graphic on Friday, June 1, 2018, the Head of the Public Relations Directorate of the GES, Ms Cassandra Twum Ampofo, said the service had to fine-tune the new policy guidelines before forwarding them to WAEC, which also had to restructure its software to be able to host the policy on its website.
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The new policy guidelines, which aim at ensuring the smooth placement of BECE candidates, follow a review of last year’s placement exercise undertaken by the Ministry of Education and the GES.
Registration in progress
Ms Ampofo explained that “as we speak, the issue has been rectified and some schools have already started registering and we want them to know that the fact that they are starting the examination on Monday does not mean that is the end”.
She said the GES acknowledged the fact that because of the examination most of them would not be able to register, “but we are assuring them that after their examination, they will have three more weeks to do that”.
In the past, BECE candidates did not have the chance to register after writing the examination, but the GES explained that this year was a special case.
No cause for alarm
A statement signed and issued by Ms Ampofo to the candidates earlier calmed the nerves of the candidates and asked them to rest assured that they would be given time after the examination to select the SHSs of their choices.
“Management of the GES wishes to announce for the information of all final-year students of the various JHSs across the country that it acknowledges the fact that they have not been enabled to make selection of senior high schools to date.
“Management, therefore, wishes to assure all candidates that there is no cause for alarm and they should not be distracted by this development,” it stated.
The GES used the opportunity to congratulate the candidates on their hard work during the period of their basic education, adding: “This is the period of reckoning and management believes in your ability to perform creditably in your examination.
“You are, therefore, urged to conduct yourselves properly according to the rules and regulations governing the examination,” the statement said.
Stay away from malpractice
“In your own interest, we implore you to desist from any unacceptable conduct that may have the tendency to bring the examination into disrepute,.” it added.
It appealed to parents and guardians to continue to provide the needed support and encouragement for their children and wards to enable them to go through the exercise successfully.
In a message to the public, especially the candidates, WAEC said all necessary measures had been put in place to ensure that the examination was conducted successfully.
In a statement, a Deputy Director of Public Affairs of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, while wishing the candidates success in their papers, assured them that they could pass their examination without cheating.
She appealed to the public, especially the candidates, to be wary of the activities of “rouge website operators who peddle fake questions presenting them as authentic papers”.
“Candidates are also cautioned against engaging in any examination malpractice of any form, especially collusion, which is prevalent at the BECE,” Mrs Teye-Cudjoe warned the candidates.
She reminded them that collusion could be detected by the Item Differentia Profile (IDP) in their objective test, or in their scripts during marking.
“The council wishes to solicit the support of all stakeholders, especially supervisors and invigilators, in safeguarding the integrity of the examination,” she added.
MPs caution candidates
In a related development, Members of Parliament (MPs) have cautioned candidates for this year's BECE against engaging in examination malpractice, reports Musah Yahaya Jafaru from Parliament House.
The legislators also urged WAEC and the GES to extend the examination timetable from the current one week to two weeks to ease the pressure on the candidates.
They made the call last Friday, June 1, 2018 to wish the candidates, who are starting the examination today, good luck.
Reading a statement on the 2018 BECE on the floor of Parliament, the Chairman of the Education Committee of Parliament, Mr Siaka Stevens, said although WAEC had put in place mechanisms to prevent leakage of examination papers, it was important for school authorities and candidates to refrain from indulging in examination malpractice.
Rather, he said, the candidates should focus on revising their notes.
"Engaging in examination malpractice will nurture the habit of cheating and corruption in these young ones. They are the future of this country and as such our future MPs, doctors, teachers, architects and so on," he said.
Mr Stevens, who is the MP for Jaman North, lauded teachers and parents for supporting the education of the candidates through teaching and guidance.
He wished the candidates well in their examination and assured them of the government's continuous support for them now and after the examination.
The Ranking Member on the Education Committee, Mr Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, said the current timetable that compelled BECE candidates to write papers on two subjects in a day consecutively for five days was too much burden for them, considering their young ages.
He said each subject had two sections, which meant that the candidates wrote four papers daily.
Mr Nortsu-Kotoe, who is the MP for Akatsi North, said by the third day, most of the candidates broke down and were unable to concentrate on the remainder of the papers.
That lack of concentration, he said, affected their performance.
The MP said even tertiary and SHS students had breaks in their examination timetables.
He, therefore, urged WAEC and the GES to consider extending the timetable to two weeks for the candidates to write papers on one subject daily.