Education Minister’s Useless Exercise

IF THE Ministry of Education has nothing better to do, it should disband itself, instead of wasting precious time, money and other resources, conducting a so-called research that allegedly proves that
the balance of academic and examination power has shifted from the so-called top schools to the so-called unfenced ones.

The Ministry of Education and the Ghana Educational Service (GES) raised unnecessary and needless controversy when in 2004, they published the 2003 results of the Senior High School Certificate
Examination (SSSCE).

The DAILY GRAPHIC did not just put the story on its front page; the banner headline screamed, WESLEY GIRLS TOPS ALL. As was to be expected, the schools that had made it to the top ten or so beamed
with delight.

There were strange and ludicrous noises by certain elements to the effect that a so-called Catholic discipline had been the factor that had placed many of the Catholic-founded schools among the top twenty. That was used to canvass the idea of Government returning to the Missions the schools founded by them.

Some past students of so-called prestigious schools reportedly descended on headmasters and headmistress to demand an explanation of the so-called poor performance.

The Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service did not help matters when, again, they published the 2004 results in 2005. The MOE-GES League Table showed , for example, a school like Diaso
Senior Secondary school (as it then was) climbing to the top and beating such schools as Yaa Asantewa Girls Secondary School, Opoku Ware School, Prempeh College, Mfantsipim School, Achimota School and
Aburi Girls Secondary School.

Other “big names” floored by Diaso includes Presec-Legon, St. Augustine’s College, St. Peter’s Secondary and Holy Child Secondary.

Diaso scored a one hundred percent pass, while the other schools mentioned did not. In 2003, Diaso had placed 307th on the League Table. In 2004, it lifted itself up and came among the five schools
that scored one hundred percent passes.

On what realistic, properly weighed basis did the MOE and the GES arrive at their conclusions? Could our mathematicians, statisticians and experts in educational measurements tell us whether the figures
gave us true picture of the performance of the schools on the League Table?

For example, in the 2004 examination, Diaso Senior Secondary School presented 52 candidates. Of that number, only one passed in (8) eight subjects. The number of candidates passing in 7 (seven) subjects was 47, while 5 (five) passed in six subjects.

Prempeh College, which placed 15th in 2004 presented the highest number of candidates, 813. Of that number, 709 passed in 8 (eight) subjects, 7 (seven) passed in (seven) subjects, 19 passed in six
subjects, 6 (six) passed in five subjects, one passed in four subjects, one passed in three subjects and one passed in one subject.

Wesley Girls High School, which placed first in 2004 as in 2003, presented 381 candidates. Of that number, 374 candidates passed in 8 (eight) subjects, six passed in seven subject and one passed in six
subjects.

In 2004, Presec-Legon presented 787 candidates, Kumasi High School had 686 candidates, Mfantsipim had 545 candidates and Achimota had 521 candidates.

The Education authority appeared happy at what they had done. The then Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, Mr. Michael Nsowah, was quoted by the DAILY GRAPHIC as saying in an interview that “the League Table published by the Service (Ghana Education Service) has helped to indentify the non-performing schools and enabled the Service to put in measures to assist them. “(DAILY GRAPHIC, Wednesday, April 6, 2005).”

Mr. Nsowah was also reported to have said, “It is fascinating and fulfilling to be rated among the top rank of second cycle schools in the country.”

Of course, not everyone agreed. Mr. S. E. Amissah, formerly of the Ghana Education Service, criticized the publication on the grounds that the results should have been weighed to have a truer reflection
of the performance of the candidates.

At the 95th Speech and Prize Giving Day of the Adisadel College, the then Acting Headmaster, Mr. Kwadwo Asiedu-Gyimah, reportedly stated, “a mere pass by student is not enough guarantee that he will gain admission into a university.” (DAILY GUIDE, Monday, March 21, 2005).

He reportedly added: “the League system of grading schools according to their performance in the SSSCE gives a false impression of superiority to certain schools, while other schools also acquire a certain false sense of inferiority, just because the system is not qualitative enough.”

In its Saturday, April 2, 2005 issue, the DAILY GRAPHIC reported Mr. K.J. Baku, the then Head of the research department of the West African Examination Council (WAEC), as saying that the League Table
was an unrealistic exercise that gives the wrong impression about the true performance level of the schools.”

The “GRAPHIC” wrote that: “He (Mr. Baku) said that although the exercise was well-intentioned, it would rather bring about unfair comparison of efforts to teachers, false confidence or false
accusations of school authorities and serve as a basis for examination malpractices.”

The “GRAPHIC” report went on, “In an illustration to buttress his point, he said the present table would place a student who has five “Es” and one Failure on top of one who had five “A’s” and two Failures
and wondered whether this was a fair representation of their performance. This is a wrong statistical approach.”

After a lull of nearly ten years, the Ministry of Education has seen it fit to indulge in this useless exercise again. Of course, this time, according to them, the results show a change. And so what?
Let me respectfully request Professor Naana Jane Agyemang, the Minister of Education, to turn her attention to more important and pressing problems adversely affecting education at all levels, from
the kindergarten to the tertiary level.

Has she seen on television the tragedy of little children literally sitting on bare dusty floors in the forlorn hope of getting education? Is she aware of the lack of simple teaching and learning materials such as chalk, registers and note books, not to talk of basic books? Is she aware of the overcrowding at all levels, the lack of classroom buildings? Is she aware of abandoned projects such as dormitories, classroom blocks, assembly halls, etc.?

Is she aware of the very irregular and late payments of grants, subsidies, etc. needed to run the schools?
Madam, pay attention to those problems and others before you indulge in the totally hopeless pastime of publishing examination League Tables.

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