As the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) prepares to release the results of candidates who took this year’s Basic Schools Certificate Examination (BECE) next month, officials of the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) have outlined a number of opportunities that candidates can exploit for maximum benefit.
According to the CSSPS, from now till the day WAEC releases the results, candidates can change their schools and programmes.
Disclosing this to The Finder in Accra, National Co-ordinator of the CSSPS, Mr Kwasi Abankwa Anokye said his outfit is very much prepared for this year’s exercise, adding that the opportunities were to address the struggle parents go through after placements.
He added that private candidates, children of foreigners and Ghanaians who acquired basic education outside Ghana but want to attend senior high school (SHS) in Ghana all have the opportunity to be included in the CSSPS.
He explained that in the months of July and August, parents have the unique opportunity to confirm or change the choice of schools and programmes for their wards.
Mr Anokye said interested parents should text the 10-digit index number of their wards to the short code 1060 on MTN, Tigo, Airtel and Vodafone, and they would receive a message on the four schools selected by the candidate and the selected programme.
Consequently, parents who wish to change the school and programme of their wards can then contact their junior high schools (JHS) to write to CSSPS for the changes to be effected, he added.
“This process will continue until the date WAEC releases the results,” he said.
Mr Anokye explained that qualified BECE candidates who were unable to get admission into, or deferred their admission, senior high schools or technical institutes within the immediate past three years but want placement this year should pick a form at district education offices or download the form from WAEC’s website, fill it, attach results and relevant documents and then submit to the district education office.
In addition, he said foreigners in Ghana and children of Ghanaians who acquired basic education outside Ghana but want to attend SHS in Ghana have to buy a form from the Ghana Education Service (GES) Headquarters, fill it, submit it to GES and take aptitude test, and successful candidates will be placed.
He noted that past BECE graduands who have taken the private BECE to better their grade, as well those whose papers were cancelled but later wrote private BECE should pick up forms at education offices nationwide, fill it and submit it to education offices for placement.
He explained that their work spans from November to November in the following year.
According to him, between February and March, WAEC completes registration of candidates by capturing bio-data such as name of candidate, date of birth and index number.
In the second part of the registration process, he said the combination of bio-data and choice of schools of candidates compiled by WAEC is forwarded to CSSPS in June.
According to him, the CSSPS then has to undertake gender validation, where it matches the gender of candidates to schools chosen to ensure that boys did not chose girls’ schools and vice versa.
Mr Anokye explained that this validation is challenging because a lot of Ghanaian names are used by both sexes.
In case of difficulties, he said CSSPS officials go back to the junior high schools of candidates to verify their gender, and this exercise ends by the first week in August.
Candidates chose schools that do not offer programmes
Mr Anokye said there are instances where candidates chose schools that do not offer their selected programmes. ‘
In this case, he said the CSSPS sends the information back to the JHS for correction.
However, he added that if the candidate could not be located to effect the change, the CSSPS sends the student to the first choice school but changes the programme.
Mr Anokye said the CSSPS, which became operational in the year 2005, played a major role in this transition as its operations were intended to reduce human errors by depending on technology.
He said the decision to automate the selection and placement of successful BECE candidates into senior high schools, technical and vocational institutes was a measure taken to address a number of weaknesses inherent in the manual operation.
These include the use of hardcopy placement cards, the annual regional selection exercise and the regionalised choice of schools, which was restrictive and subject to national disintegration.
Mr Anokye said the CSSPS, apart from placing candidates, had taken advantage of the huge potential technology provided to introduce innovations such as candidates checking their BECE results online and also using mobile phones to easily access placement results.
He said access into SHS, technical and vocational institutes had greatly improved with the inception of the system as nearly 90 to 95 per cent of BECE candidates were selected and placed in their chosen second-cycle schools.