The government has given a lifeline to candidates of this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) from public schools who could not be placed in any of the senior high schools (SHSs) in the country.

It has directed that the candidates, numbering about 31,196, should be accepted back in their former junior high schools (JHSs) to join the current JHS Three students to re-write the BECE next year to enable them to benefit from the free SHS policy.

The students could not be placed in any of the SHSs, vocational schools and technical institutes because they either scored Grade Nine in both Mathematics and English Language or had raw scores below 140.

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The Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Prof. Kwasi Opoku Amankwa, disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra yesterday.

Qualified candidates

At least 490,514 candidates who sat for the BECE qualified to be in SHSs and technical institutes for the commencement of the double-track educational system.
They constituted 90 per cent of the 521,710 candidates who registered for the BECE this year.

Out of the 490,514 who qualified to be placed, 423,134 were automatically placed, while 67,362 could not be matched with any of their choices and were asked to do self-placement.

Access to second-cycle schools

Prof. Amankwa explained that the decision was taken by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to ensure that no one was denied access to quality second-cycle education in the country.

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“As part of the government’s commitment to improve access to quality second-cycle education, it has been decided that all final-year students of JHSs of the 2017/2018 academic year who were unsuccessful at the BECE and could, therefore, not be placed in senior high schools are to be re-admitted to JHS Three to enable them to re-write the BECE for the ensuing year,” he stated.

Directive to heads of JHSs and regional directors

Prof. Amankwa directed all heads of public JHSs to ensure that all students who report at the schools were re-admitted and re-registered for next year’s BECE.

“Regional directors are kindly requested to supervise their respective district directors to ensure that heads and affected students duly comply with the directive.

“Management counts on the maximum cooperation of all stakeholders in this exercise,” Prof. Amankwa directed.

Last year, BECE candidates who could not qualify for admission to any of the SHSs, vocational schools and technical institutes had to re-register and rewrite the BECE as private candidates.

Double track

The government introduced the double-track SHS system this year to ensure that more BECE graduates have access to second-cycle education as a result of the increase in enrolment.

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The double-track system, which is part of the free SHS programme, is designed to reduce class sizes, increase contact hours, as well as increase the number of school holidays.

Statistics show that from 2013 to 2017, a staggering 493,016 BECE candidates qualified to pursue secondary education but could not do so because they were not enrolled.

Under the system, which has come under a raging debate since it was announced, a total of 8,872 GES staff are being recruited to ensure that no teacher is made to overwork himself or herself.

The system, which is a temporary measure, is expected to last between five and seven years from the 2018/19 academic year. Four hundred out of the 696 SHSs in the country will operate the double-track system.