Senior High School placement system fraught with corruption?

The Computerised School Se­lection and Placement System (CSSPS) was introduced in the year 2005 after two years of piloting to replace the manual system which was so hectic and difficult to manage.

The objective of this computerized system has been to fully automate school placement process in order to reduce human errors and to promote efficiency and fairness in the selec­tion and placement of students in the Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the country.

RAW SCORE AS DETERMINING

FACTOR

The CSSPS, uses the raw scores of candidates of the Basic Education Certificates Examination (BECE) as a determinant factor for the selection process. This is done automatically based on aggregate of the candidate including the choice of school and programme made by the candidate. For a candidate to qualify for place­ment, he or she has to satisfy the total raw score of not less than 200.

Placement is done on the basis of the vacancies declared by the schools and once these vacancies have been filled by the CSSPS in a particular school, it is unable to do any further placement. If a candidate’s aggre­gate falls within the merit of the pro­gramme chosen for the first choice, the CSSPS, then checks the student’s preferred residential status for space and places him or her accordingly. If the desired residential status is full, the system moves him or her to the second choice.

SIGNIFICANCE OF SCHOOL PLACE­MENT

It is significant to note that work experience and student placement programmes are designed to provide the student with an opportunity to help develop positive insight, expe­rience and skills that may assist him or her with future employment or to make informed decisions regarding his or her performed career choice.

Prior to the introduction of the CSSPS, placement of graduates in SHS, was done manually. Heads of SHS, would have to gather at regional conferences to go through records of individual candidates as presented by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and their basic schools and hand-pick students’ performance cards and communicate feedback to parents and guardians, usually through school notice boards.

MANUAL PLACEMENT

In fact, the manual system of placement has its own challenges and disadvantages which are cumbersome in character. For instance, a parent whose child chose schools such as St Augustines College in Cape Coast in the Central Region, Ghana Secondary School in Koforidua in the Eastern Re­gion and Tamale SHS in the Northern Region, in that order of preference, would have to travel all the way to those schools, just to find out which of them had selected his or her child. That to me was so stressful, hercule­an and difficult task to accomplish.

Besides, there were other weak­nesses within that system such as school heads taking longer time to se­lect students based on performance, difficulty of school heads giving equal attention to all candidates at the same time and rising cases of favou­ritism rather than on performance merit among others. The uncon­trolled frustration of parents to the old system, motivated and encour­aged the government at that time through the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ghana Education Ser­vice (GES) together with think tanks within the education sector to come out with the CSSPS as a way of mini­mising if not to eliminate the stress, toil and sweat of parents and guard­ians who were anxious to provide their children with good, credible and quality education.

ACHIEVEMENTS OF CSSPS

Indeed, the new computerised system ever since its introduction has stood the test of time and facil­itated the placement of students in the Junior High level to that of the SHSs across the country. The Free Education policy by the government has also increased the level of en­rolment from the basic to the SHS level, thus putting a lot of stress on the enrollment of students into the SHS and the tertiary education levels. The high level of enrollment has left in its trail difficult moments and brought about corruption and other serious malpractices within the school placement system. Among challenges raised by some parents and guardians was the fact that male students were placed in female schools and vice versa, students placed in day schools in locations far from their homes as well as the inability to successfully go through the self- placement process.

SHORTCOMINGS OF CSSPS

In fact, the CSSPS, has become fertile grounds for bribery and cor­ruption among parents, guardians and officials managing the system in our dear country. The major challenge facing the system has been the human factor in terms of refusal of parents, guardians and students to accept placement into schools apart from their chosen endowed schools. There were numerous instances in which parents and guardians have thronged to resolution centres in the country, furiously protesting against the CSSPS which they claimed had denied their children and wards access to their preferred choice of schools, even though they believed their wards had made the grades. Most parents continue to criticise the system saying that it has messed things up just because their children could not be selected to their preferred schools.

BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION BY PARENTS

Aside all these challenges, some parents were ready to pay huge sums of moneys to officials handling the system including watchmen and se­curity guards in an attempt to induce them to facilitate the placement of their children into the Catego­ry A SHSs such as Achimota School, Prempeh College, Pope John SHS, Opoku Ware SHS, Aburi Girls SHS, St Augustine College, Legon PRESEC Boys, among others. That is indeed outrageous and criminal in nature and should not be tolerated or encour­aged whatsoever in our educational system.

Recent indications on social media spoke about the arrest of eight per­sons by the police following Joy News and Fourth Estate’s latest investiga­tive piece “School for Placement for Sale” which uncovered widespread fraud in the CSSPS. The suspects have since been charged and ar­raigned before court. Investigations revealed that some parents paid up to GH¢20,000 to get their children en­rolled in top-tier SHSs. In some cas­es, people paid as much as Gh¢10,000 to maintain a slot, according to the investigation. That case is pending before the law courts and, therefore, it is advisable not to comment further but to live it to the judiciary to deter­mine the outcome.

CASE OF CORRUPTION PENDING IN COURT

While we allow the court to do justice to the case and bring the culprits to book in order to bring sanity into the CSSPS, it is equally important to call on the MoE and the GES to find ways of addressing the root cause of the problems that have brought about corruption within the system. The authorities must provide inputs in time to the least endowed schools and also upgrade the infra­structural facilities in these schools to make them more attractive to students. By so doing, the pressure on the highly-endowed schools will reduce as most parents are anxious to enroll their children in some of this grade A SHSs in the country. Besides, there is the need to revisit the policy of developing some of these SHSs in each region into model schools with all the modern facilities required in a standard second cycle schools.

ADVICE TO PARENTS AND GUARD­IANS

It is equally important to caution parents to refrain from bribing the officials in-charge of the CSSPS to influence them to change the schools of their children even though they knew very well that they did not select some of these grade A schools as their first choice. Parents need to exercise maximum patience and allow the system to work perfectly since it is far better than the old manual sys­tem which was fraught with teething challenges. More importantly, offi­cials working at the CSSPS secretariat must be circumspect in their work by showing diligence and be incorrupt­ible in their daily activities.

The CSSPS is currently the best option for placement of students into the SHSs in the country and we must all support it for better results. Let us free the system of the eminent corruption in any form.

Contact email/WhatsApp of au­thor:

ataani2000@yahoo.com

0277753946/0248933366

By Charles Neequaye

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