The Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman, has warned that heads of second cycle schools whose students persistently fail in certificate examinations would be held accountable.
She said the duration of school heads at their post would be determined by many factors, including the performance of their students.
Private schools also, she said, had to justify their continued operation with the performance of their students in the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE).
“The Ministry of Education cannot accept the practice of heads who superintend over consistent poor performance… we wonder why a head from a public or private institution, that superintends over a failure rate of 90 per cent is allowed to continue operations without accounting to the Ghana Education Service and the public,” Prof. Opoku Agyemang said.
The Minister was speaking in Kumasi at a meeting with 500 heads of public and private senior secondary schools across the country, geared towards finding solutions to the consistent abysmal performance of those schools in the WASSCE.
Of the about 850 public and private senior secondary schools, 250 have consistently recorded very low performance at the WASSCE.
“We are now adopting a low tolerance for students’ failure…it is not going to be business as usual,” she admonished.
The meeting provided a forum for school heads and officials of the Education Ministry to evaluate the causes of poor performance of students and strategise to improve upon them.
The meeting was also to plan for appropriate steps to support schools in their preparations towards the 2016 WASSCE and beyond.
The participants were also to examine the causes of poor performance from the perspective of the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC) and students.
Prof. Opoku Agyemang told the heads of schools that they had to strengthen their roles of watching and directing academic work in their schools.
They, she said, had the direct responsibility for ensuring improvement in the performance of their schools and in preparing students to sit for the WASSCE.
“The head’s job is to keep an eye on the academic activities of the school during teaching hours; you should ensure that studies progress well and in accordance with the curricula and the set timetable,” stated.
“Regrettably, our interactions with senior high school heads reveal that some of them do not fully appreciate their responsibility towards the performance of their students.
“Some heads do not even stay in schools; they don’t have an idea the kind of tuition their students get from teachers.”
The Minister said these heads considered the annual failure of their students in the WASSCE as normal and had thus failed to initiate any measures for improvement.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang stated that WAEC’s records showed that many private senior high schools consistently recorded very high failure rates in the WASSCE.
She noted that what accounted for the problem in private schools was the lack of qualified teachers to teach and prepare the students adequately for WASSCE.
The Minister, therefore, warned that the Ministry would not tolerate the practice where private schools after charging very high fees, pushed their students to register with public schools to sit for the WASSCE.
She warned,“If you have charged high fees, make sure you engage trained professional tutors to prepare your students for the examinations. We will not tolerate you foisting your liabilities on the public institutions”.
Prof. Opoku-Agyemang stated that the government was playing its part to ensure good academic performance and was putting additional measures in place by expanding infrastructure and access to the right quality of education that would propel national development.
To this end, she said, the Ministry, apart from the interventions the Government was making, was focused on improving performance, particularly, in Mathematics and Integrated Science at the senior school level.
She said the Ministry was expanding the Science Resource Centre project to endow all schools with modern laboratories and equipment to facilitate the effective teaching and learning of Science.
Additionally, some 150 laboratory technicians have been trained for the Science Resource Centre project to support effective practical exercises and promote the learning of science.
The Minister also announced that the Government was committing considerable resources to improve performance in 125 low performing public senior high schools under the Secondary Education Improvement Project.