Barring any last-minute hitches, this year’s school placement will be out on Sunday, February 21, 2021, the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, has hinted.
The placement will cover candidates, both government and private schools, who wrote the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in 2020, as well as other re-entrants. In all, about five hundred and twenty-five thousand (525,000) qualified Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates will be seeking placement into seven hundred and twenty-one (721) Senior High, Technical and Vocational Schools of their choices which have declared about five hundred and thirty-five thousand (535,000) vacancies.
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa indicated that the Ghana Education Service (GES) had worked closely with the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to release the results of the majority of the candidates whose results had been withheld, adding that there were currently less than hundred (100) candidates whose results had still been withheld. He added that there were enough vacancies for the candidates, for which reason there was no need for any candidate or parent to panic. The Director-General explained that the challenge with the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) had always been an issue of choice and not the availability of spaces.
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said over the years, the number of candidates who qualified to be placed was always far below the vacancies available, “and every year when we do our placement, just as we get oversubscribed schools, we also get under-subscribed schools”. He said only about a hundred (100) schools, out of the seven hundred and twenty-one (721) were usually oversubscribed.
On the arrangements being put in place to address overcrowding of candidates and parents, he explained that unlike the previous years when the management of the Ghana Education Service (GES) had to set up solution centers where those with genuine issues could go for help, “this year, because of the COVID-19, we want to avoid the situation where people will rush to the Black Star Square and other places to gather”. “So we are setting up call centres to receive and work on issues people may be coming up with,” he explained.
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa explained that at such centres they could address genuine technical issues and also the issue of a day student placed in a distant school. Asked whether or not the double-track system for school attendance should be stopped, he said discussions needed to go on as to whether or not it should remain or be completely scrapped as advocated by a section of society.
He also explained that based on an analysis of issues by the service, “the major issue that creates a problem for us is the self-placement”. “In the past, when you did the self-placement, chose a school and for any reason you wanted to change it, the system did not allow you to do so. You needed to come back to us, and that was why we got people massing up at the Black Star Square to do those changes,” Prof. Opoku-Amankwa explained. This year, however, he added, the candidates would be allowed some level of flexibility to effect changes on their own.
“For this year, candidates will be allowed to change schools a couple times until finally they enrol in them. So until you enrol in a school, you can continue to do changes up till the enrolment deadline, and once you have the opportunity to change, you do not need to come over here to seek any assistance or for someone to do that for you,” he told the Daily Graphic.
He was of the belief that the self-placement issue formed more than seventy percent (70%) of the challenges the Ghana Education Service (GES) had concerning the placement and was optimistic that with this new module, the system would work smoothly.
He explained that the placement of candidates under the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) had, over the years, been done three (3) weeks to the reopening of schools, and “this year is no different”.
“Usually we give them some three (3) weeks to prepare to go to school and we wanted to keep to that,” he said. Prof. Opoku-Amankwa also explained that there had been no delay in the placement, as some people were speculating, saying the same format that was used during the pre-COVID-19 era was what the Ghana Education Service (GES) had stuck to this year.
He said the period of waiting after the results were released afforded the Ghana Education Service (GES) to engage with the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to ensure that majority of the candidates whose results were withheld had them released. On December 16, 2020, last year when West African Examinations Council (WAEC) released the results, nine hundred and seventy-seven (977) candidates had their subject results withheld, pending the outcome of investigations.