Mathew Opoku Prempeh
We have been following the work of the Computerized School Selection System Placements (CSSPS) of the Ghana Education Service (GES) since its inception in 2005. It has had its own challenges over the years but we can hold that this year’s placement of Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) candidates appears to be unsurpassed. We are not saying they got everything right but judging from what has transpired, we can say that they were up to the task. They have been able to work within a very tight time to place students for the much-talked-about Free Senior High School policy to be implemented for the 2017/2018 academic year.
The CSSPS came to replace the Manual School Selection and Placement System (MSSPS). It looks faster and much more efficient than the MSSPS. It operates as a secretariat under the Secondary Education Division of the GES. It selects and places candidates in accredited public and private senior high, technical and vocational schools based on raw scores (not grades) in subjects, such as English Language, Mathematics, Integrated Science, Social Studies (for those going to senior high schools), Basic Design and Technology for technical and vocational students in addition to one other best grade from Religious and Moral Education, Information Communication Technology.
This year’s task was daunting. It is the first time that the secretariat has had to deal with volumes of applications. The secretariat had to find placements for over 120,000 students, ordinarily who wouldn’t be in school due to financial constraints but for the Free SHS although some of these kids might have good grades to enter any senior high school of their choice. In the ensuing heat, President Akufo-Addo and his NPP government have made it possible for these parents to send their wards to school.
The government is determined to cut the amount of time SHS students, both fresh and continuing, spend at home at the opening of every academic year and the role played by both CSSPS and the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) in ensuring timely release of the results needs commendation. In the past, a new academic year normally starts in the second week of September but with time it was pushed to October, making the students lose almost a month-and-half of the academic timetable. As we can all see, the Ministry of Education and the GES have been able to work out what was causing such delays and from this year, the academic calendar has been rolled back to September.
This put enormous pressure on the CSSPS to deliver on time and they appeared not to have disappointed all of us although there are pockets of tying up to do. We value the anxiety of parents regarding placements especially those who are still without school. The understanding is that once the candidate has written and passed in all subjects, he or she must be placed. CSSPS would always correct any anomaly that arises in the discharge of its duty. We, therefore, plead with parents to be patient and tolerant a bit at this crucial time since the deadline has been further extended to accommodate all.