BECE: This isn’t the way to go!
A retired educationist, Mr. K. B. Asante, has observed that the overemphasis on examination is partly to blame for the country’s educational problems. He said the dictatorial nature of examinations in Ghana’s schools de-emphasized the critical element of education – acquiring knowledge to be able to solve problems in the society.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Mr. Asante said while passing exams was important, creating the impression that the ultimate aim of education was passing examination, was counterproductive.
Mr. Asante also has concerns about the form of examinations in the country’s schools. He believes setting up objective tests for students was not really a proper assessment but conceded the teeming number of students per class makes it practically impossible for the teacher to mark essays.
He said the curricula should allow teachers some flexibility to determine how and what to teach students. “If you want real education, you need to get the students to enjoy and understand what they are learning,” he added.
He is even more worried about the values the society has about education. “When we were young, the people we looked up to, were people with knowledge, people who were supposed to be very learned. Now [however], society has different values – if you make money you are important – so people go to school, even young people, aspiring to a certain position to make money,” he noted.
He said, under those circumstances, education is no longer a means to acquire knowledge and help the society.
“These days the emphasis is on passing the exam, getting a First Class, getting a profession and the aim is to live well, to put it bluntly, make money and that is the value of society. When you have such value predominating, you cannot get the best out of education,” he stated.
The former diplomat said parents must take keen interest in the education of their children, stressing that relying on extra classes will not necessarily work. Source: myjoyonline.com
I was beside myself with joy when I read this article on 1st March, 2011. Not only is Mr. Asante a role model in Ghana, he is a man who knows a lot about education. I saw and experienced a lot of ugly things during the Basic Education Certificate Examination for the junior high school students in Ghana which ends today. The essence of examination is misunderstood by certain stakeholders of education at the junior level.
A test or an examination (or “exam”) is an assessment intended to measure a test-taker’s knowledge, skill, aptitude, physical fitness, or classification in many other topics. A test may be administered orally, on paper, on a computer or in a confined area that requires a test taker to physically perform a set of skills. Tests vary in style, rigor and requirements. For example, in a closed book test, a test taker is often required to rely upon memory to respond to specific items whereas in an open book test, a test taker may use one or more supplementary tools such as a reference book or calculator when responding to an item. A test may be administered formally or informally. An example of an informal test would be a reading test administered by a parent to a child. An example of a formal test would be a final examination administered by a teacher in a classroom or an I.Q. test administered by a psychologist in a clinic. Formal testing often results in a grade or a test score. A test score may be interpreted with regards to a norm or criterion, or occasionally both. The norm may be established independently, or by statistical analysis of a large number of participants.
Senior high schools are able to admit students from the junior level based on the BECE. Apparently, the BECE has lost its meaning if what I witnessed is anything to go by. I believe there will be a lot of students who will be admitted into their selected or first choice senior high schools but will not do well since they had their way in the BECE. Leakage of examination papers has been a problem in Ghana. Even in our universities, examination questions get leaked to students. It is a well known fact that some female students sleep with lecturers in exchange for the exam papers or grades. The same can be said of the senior high schools. What worries me is that, authorities pay so much attention to the senior high schools and universities leaving the junior high examinations to rot. An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.
Each morning before a paper, students from various schools are seen reading answers and not notes. What I observed really got me astounded. I decided to pass by one school and talk with some of the students. I asked them how the paper went and the general answer was, “easy because we had the questions.” Teachers felt no iota of shyness when they admitted they were given the questions. A shocking revelation was that, the policewoman on duty took 5 cedis from each of the proprietors of the schools so she wouldn’t be strict, making way for teachers to help their students. I wish I wasn’t talking about this but if we don’t talk about our problems, we will never get them solved. Ghana must move forward. A better Ghana cannot be achieved while the future leaders are fed with answers before an exam. It is unethical and doesn’t help nurture students for the future. It must be frowned upon and measures put in place to nip it in the bud.
In my opinion, the government and other stakeholders of education do not hold the BECE so high. If we are building a better Ghana, we must let our future leaders know that examinations don’t kill. The fear of examination has crippled the students to the extent that they worry parents to get them money to buy question papers and even answers.
Education… has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading. ~G.M. Trevelyan. That is what our nation is turning the future leaders into. It is high time we paid so much attention to the BECE, to the junior high education and to our future leaders. We must make Ghana better. We must shape our destiny. No one can do that for us. We must do it ourselves. Long live Ghana…. Long live our future leaders!