Professor Francis Kodzo Amedahe, a professor in Educational Measurement and Statistics at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), has expressed worry about what he describes as the country’s inability to critically examine new educational policies, before implementing them.
He said the country’s educational system had seen several reviews and reforms that had led to increased access to education at all levels, but many a time, educational reforms were conducted and implemented hurriedly without a proper look at the real issues affecting the educational system.
Prof. Amedahe added that despite these reforms, there were some serious quality issues that informed some Ghanaians to conclude that the country’s educational standards were falling, even though the available evidence did not support that position.
Prof. Amedahe made this known during an inaugural lecture at the School of Medical Sciences (SMS) of UCC on the theme: “The issue of falling educational standards in Ghana: A perception or reality?”
According to him, data collected and analysed on performance of students at the three levels of education could not clearly establish that “our educational standards were really falling, even though at the basic level, the performance of pupils was low and unacceptable,” explaining that the thinking was more of a perception than reality.
He said the primary level needed a critical attention and proposed a revisit to the idea of the Ghana Basic Education Comprehensive Assessment (Ghana BECAS), for the re-introduction of the School Education Assessment (SEA), or a standardised test in any form, to help facilitate instruction in ensuring accountability and remediation.
He said with the frequent educational reviews and reforms in Ghana, one would expect that the quality issues should be addressed, but the story had been different.
Prof. Amedahe said the changes in the system had made it difficult to meaningfully compare performance of students who experienced different contents and structure of the educational system.
He noted that for the falling standards to be checked, the country must look at the content and performance standards separately.
He explained that the performance standards tended to articulate ideas implicit in content standards, adding that they were concrete statements of how well students must learn what was set out in the content standards or how much was good enough for a student.
He said performance standard was defined by the achievement level.
He also advised the Ministry of Education and Ghana Education Service (GES) to reconsider the use of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for both the selection and certification.
“In principle, one examination cannot be equally valid for both purposes,” Prof. Amedahe said.
Prof. Amedahe, however, tasked West African Examination Council (WAEC) —though it is doing well — to “take a hard look at the English language grading at the BECE and West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE)”.
He added that poor English language played a major role in the views of people on falling educational standards.
At the tertiary level, Prof. Amedahe challenged the agencies and bodies responsible for ensuring quality standards, including quality assurance units, academic planning committees, academic boards, and the National Accreditation Board (NAB), to be up and doing as the tertiary institutions were on the rise.
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