Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blackouts/Teachers strike- taking toll on final year students

Story: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah
 Pupils and students across the country are having serious challenges . While the rampant blackouts in most parts of the country are taking a toll on academic work, teachers have also worsened matters by embarking on a strike.
 As a result of the frequent power cuts, students, especially those who are preparing to write the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) are having challenges studying at night.
Currently, members of the two main teacher organisations - Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) - are  also staying away from the classrooms in protest against what they say is discrimination by the government in the payment of their entitlements.
The teachers are calling for the payment of their maintenance allowance, which they say had not been paid  for over 15 months.
Visits by the Junior Graphic to some senior high schools in Accra: Labone SHS, St Thomas Aquinas, PRESEC Osu and Accra High School, revealed that most of the teachers did not report to school at all, while the few that reported at some of the SHSs did not teach. Some sat in groups unders trees while others relaxed in their cars chatting heartily.
When the Junior Graphic visited the Nima Cluster of Schools, Independence Avenue, Kanda Cluster of Schools, among others, most of the students  were not aware  of the strike so they had turned out in their numbers. While others quickly returned home in excitement, after they were told about the strike, others stayed to play  with their friends.
Schools that were scheduled to write  their end of term examination had to postpone it to a later date.
 Final-year students  who are preparing for the WASSCE seem to be very disturbed over the strike action as some of them are currently undertaking their final practical in Visual Arts, Home Economics, Food and Nutrition, Clothing and Textiles, Music, Arabic, French and English Orals.
The Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Education, Stephen Adu, in an interview said it was very unfortunate that teachers were on strike at the 11th hour when their students needed them most. He, however, explained that his outfit was  fast-tracking the necessary administrative work to ensure that outstanding issues were quickly addressed so that the strike was not prolonged.

Check your data online WAEC tells candidates

Story: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has directed all candidates writing the May/June 2013 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the June 2013 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) to go online to check their correct data.
The online verification of statement of entries is to ensure that particulars of candidates submitted to the council are correct.
It will also help the council correct and facilitate the processing of results.
The Head of Public Relations at WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, explained to the Junior Graphic that for some time now the council had been receiving entries of some candidates with errors which sometimes delayed the  processing of results.
Mrs Teye-Cudjoe said some entries were sent with different names of candidates, photographs interchanged with those of others, wrong dates of birth and subjects, among others.
"When such errors occur, the candidates only detect them when they are handed their final results. This means many changes must be done," she said.
She said candidates should log onto the WAEC website: www.waecgh.org and if they detect any error in, for instance, their names, dates of birth, photographs or any other data, they should contact their heads of schools who would go ahead to request the correction of the errors.
"Requests from heads of schools for correction should reach the council not later than April 15," she added.

WASSCE kick starts

Story: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah                
This year's West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) began in earnest yesterday, with all the candidates across the country writing their first core paper — English Language Orals.
In all, 409,832 candidates, the highest number of candidates so far in the history of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), from 742 public and private schools are writing the examination.
In Ghana, 58 papers, made up of four core and 54 elective, will be written until May 17 which officially ends the entire WASSCE.
Today, April 10, another core paper, Integrated Science, will be written.
In an interview, the Head of Test Administration at WAEC, Mr Felix Akuffo-Badoo, disclosed that due to the frequent power cuts, the heads of schools had been advised to get standby generators to provide power during the oral papers.
He said in order to prevent delays in the delivery of examination papers, the council had opened various depots close to most of the schools to shorten the time for picking of papers.
"As you know, there is so much traffic in most of the metropolises and municipalities, hence this new initiative," he said.
He said WAEC had officially written to the Inspector-General  of Police (IGP)  to provide the council with adequate policemen across the country to ensure maximum security at all the examination centres.
Mr Akuffo-Badoo warned candidates against examination malpractice such as carrying foreign materials such as mobile phones, programmed calculators or other electronic communication devices into the examination halls.
"Offences such as mass cheating, leaked questions (apor), taking question papers or answer booklets out, tearing any part of the paper/answer booklet, insulting or assaulting an invigilator/supervisor inside or outside the examination hall will lead to the cancellation of a candidate's or an entire school's results, while the culprits could be barred from writing WAEC examinations or even imprisoned," he added.

WASSCE ongoing amdist drama

The 2013 May/June West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) is ongoing, amidst drama.
While majority of the candidates who wrote the Oral English last Tuesday had no problem with the recording, a few claimed the sound was not audible enough.
In almost all the senior high schools (SHSs) visited, the candidates were divided into batches to enable them to write the Oral English. For instance, at the Labone SHS, where 1,241 candidates wrote the paper, they were divided into five groups, while Accra High School, which had 900 candidates, had five groups.
 St Thomas Aquinas SHS, with 862 candidates, had four groups of 230 candidates each.
The Integrated Science paper, which was written on Wednesday, April 10, saw candidates occupying the examination halls and classrooms in the various centres due to the large number of candidates writing the paper.
Some heads of SHSs also used the examination as an opportunity to demand school fees from students who owed.
However, that action by some of the heads compelled the Chief Director of the Ministry of Education, Mr Enoch Hemans Cobbinah, to warn the heads not to prevent any candidate from writing the WASSCE because he or she owed school fees.
The director, in an interview, said, "Any attempt to prevent any candidate from writing the examination on account of the fact that he or she owes the school will constitute an infringement of the law."
About 195 students of the Kollege SHS at Darkuman, Accra also descended on their school last Wednesday just before the start of the Oral English paper, accusing the authorities of the school of failing to register them for the WASSCE.
The irate students set the director’s car ablaze and also destroyed several school property, including computers.
The Director of the school, Mr Ato Abraham, had to be arrested by policemen from the Odorkor Police Station who were on the school compound to restore order.
This year's WASSCE began on Tuesday, April 9 with 409,753 candidates from 724 public and private SHSs across the country.
In all, 220,866 males and 188,881 females are writing the examination, which is being written simultaneously in four other English-speaking West African countries —  Nigeria, Liberia, The Gambia and Sierra Leone.
This year’s examination has the highest number of candidates from the two batches of final-year SHS students, with the last batch of four-year SHS students under the 2007 educational reform policy writing the examination with the first batch of three-year SHS students following the reversal of the duration of SHS education from four to three years in 2010.

Candidates region by region
The Ashanti Region is presenting the highest number of candidates, 102,906, made up of 54,561 males and 48,345 females, followed by the Eastern Region, which is presenting 64,201 candidates, comprising 31,975 males and 32,226 females.
Greater Accra has 44,731 candidates, made up of 23,596 males and 21,135 females, while Central has 43,655 candidates, comprising 23,047 males and 20,608 females.
Volta is presenting 35,856 candidates, of which 19,994 are males and 15,862 females.
The rest are: Brong Ahafo, 35,692 candidates (19,503 males and 16,189 females); Northern, 31,645 (19,872 males and 11,773 females); Western, 29,692 (15,848 males and 13,844 females); Upper East, 12,691 (7,287 males and 5,404 females) and Upper West, 8,678 (5,183 males and 3,495 females).