Monday morning 09.00. GINKS is organising a seminar on “ICT & Education, a look at the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS)”. Not many people have yet arrived, but at 09.45 we can start with the seminar with around 35 participants
In the panel are 4 people from a different background with Mr. Edward Addo-Dankwa, as the moderator for the forum (and a board member of GINKS). The panel consist of Mr. J.J.K. Baku, the DR/Head of the WAEC Research department, Madam Victoria Opoku, the Director of Secondary Education Division at the Ghana Education Service (GES), Mr. Samuel Ofori-Adjei, the headmaster of Accra academy, who is also CHASS president and Bridgit Sloan McMullen, Uniterra/WUSC volunteer on behalf of Child’s Rights International.
The most interesting part of the whole discussion was the insight in the difficulties of the Ghanaian School system. A system that is really different from the Dutch system. After Junior Highschool all Ghanaian school kids do a test: the BECE test. This test is the most important test for the future of most Ghanaian kids. It will determine if you are aloud to continue with your school and can go to Senior Highschool, but it will also determine the quality of the school you can go to.
If you have a score of more than 30 points you are not allowed to go to senior secondary school. But even with less than 30 points you are not sure of a placement, because there are not enough places in senior secondary schools. Last year 68,000 children were not placed, while 147,000 did found a placement. Ghanaian people also favour boarding schools over day schools.
Every kid can make a choice of 6 schools and these can be all over the country. The new CSSPS system makes than a selection, based on the number of points you have. So the choice you make in these 6 schools is very important. If you pick 6 top schools, but you have not a very low score, than you have the chance that no school have selected you. Than you have to wait if there are still vacancies afterwards after all selections have been made, to see if you can still be placed. But if you choose schools in different leves, you make a better chance.
This is how it works. If there are for example 100 places for a school at level 1, it will select the 100 best students who selected this school as there number 1. Maybe the cut off for this school is 9 points. If you have 15 points the system will than look at your second choice. It will look if there are in there selected list people with more than 15 points. If that is the case, you are selected. Otherwise it will look at your third choice. Etc until your sixth choice.
The system only looks at merits, with is a big advantage to the old system, that had a lot of corruption and favouring in it. But there were also disadvantages. The panel plead for the introduction raw scores (the percentage that you score for a subject) in stead of just the aggregate number. The other critic was about the online announcement that favours urban people. Although everyone receive the result per mail, some have earlier access, because the online announcement. The system has shown that smart kids from rural areas have now the opportunity to go to top schools, which was almost impossible in the old system without the right connections. But a question mark was there also to see if this was in the best interest of the child!