The Ghana Education Service (GES), in consultation with the Ministry of Education, has decided to withhold this year’s President's Independence Day awards for one recipient in the Northern Region.
The decision follows a petition to the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to intervene and ensure that the president’s annual awards to students who excelled in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) is given to only deserving students from that part of the country.
The Municipal Chief Executive of the Yendi Municipal Assembly in the Northern Region, Alhaji Abubakari H. Yussif, had petitioned the President because, in his view, one of the students penciled in for the award did not deserve the award as he secured relatively weaker scores in the exams than other candidates.
In the petition, the MCE insisted that the award should instead be given to a girl from his municipality, whom, he said, had obtained seven ones in the BECE.
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Alhaji Yussif expressed the belief that the said student was cheated because her selection was confirmed after she had attended an interview for the award.
“Her parents were duly informed to prepare her for the award. Surprisingly, I got information that she has been replaced by someone who obtained five ones.
“It is against this backdrop that I have tendered in this petition on her behalf for your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, to intervene for the right thing to be done, for justice and fairness to prevail in this matter,” the MCE said in the petition.
Consequently, the GES has decided to withhold the award pending investigations into the petition and the rightful winner at the end of the investigation would be presented with the award later.
In an interview, the Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, said the GES was considering handing over the selection of the best student for the President's Independence Day awards to an independent body, possibly the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
The decision, he said, was informed by the annual controversies that cropped up when the winners were announced.
Every year, the best two BECE candidates from each region are honoured with the President’s Award. Last year, in accordance with the 60th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, the award ceremony was expanded to cover 60 candidates.
This year, 30 candidates will be honoured today. The number is made up of two from each region and 10 best students in the subject areas.
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa expressed the belief that handing over the selection procedures to an independent body would help end such controversies, which had the tendency to mar the otherwise brilliant idea of motivating excellence.
He said, for instance, that the selection procedure was subjective and could lead to abuse and subsequent denial of the right candidate picking up the award.
The selection criteria include turn out/appearance, fluency in reading, comprehension/spelling, academic performance, co-curricula activities, community participation and conduct/good moral behaviour of the candidate.