S.H.S. Placement Fever in Takoradi

With just a few days to go before Senior High Schools around the country reopen and commence the 2017/2018 academic year, parents and guardians are making frantic efforts in order to see their children and wards admitted into school.

And, with the government’s implementation of the Free Senior High School Programme – the incumbent NPP’s flagship campaign policy during the 2016 general elections – one would not be wrong to think school fever has hit Ghana.

In the Western Region’s commercial hub, Takoradi, the situation has been evident in several internet cafés and post offices as prospective Senior High School students accompanied by their guardians or parents strive to buy the scratch cards with which they can check and print their results and placement forms.

With a distraught look on his face, Michael, one of the Junior High School graduates seeking to enter S.H.S. disclosed to me in a hush tone that he had aggregate 38 in his Basic Education Certificate Examination, thus, failed to be part of the 424,092 students who according to the Ghana Education Service, got direct placement into the various public secondary schools of their choices.

Accompanied by his father to buy a scratch card and go through the process of self-placement, Michael and his father were amongst the close to a 100 people I met at the Market Circle branch of the Ghana Post Office on Tuesday – the initial deadline for the end of the self-placement process – who were waiting in line to buy scratch cards and print out their results and placement forms.

Due to difficulties accessing the website that was set up by the Ghana Education Service for the backlog of over 150,000 prospective Senior High School students around the country who were unable to get placement into a school of their choice, Michael and his father were only able to complete their processing on Wednesday, after trying unsuccessfully since Monday.

The mood was tense on Tuesday at the Market Circle branch of the Ghana Post Office, with looks of restlessness and nervousness on the faces of the students who had their parents present as they huddled around a man in front of a computer doing the checking and printing of their forms.

According to Mr. Delight, the man operating the computer and doing the printing of results and placement forms for the prospective S.H.S. students, the inaccessibility of the website is a normal occurrence and has been happening for years. He suggested that the government enhance the capability of the servers which run the website to avoid such occurrences in the future.

Some prospective Senior High School students also wore looks of dissatisfaction and anger, upon discovering that they were not placed in their choice schools despite having done considerably well in the B.E.C.E.

Firdaus Adama, who had eight 1s and chose Mfantsiman Girls’ Senior High School as her first choice, was so upset she couldn’t control her disappointment: “Instead of them placing me in my first choice, I was placed in Aggrey Memorial, my second choice; I had eight 1s for God’s sake! My sister who had aggregate 15 rather had Mfantsiman. I feel cheated. It’s not fair, it’s not fair!”

Explaining why she chose Mfantsiman Girls’ Senior High School, Ms. Adama said: “I chose Mfantsiman because I want to offer Science. I chose the school because of the facilities and laboratory they have, yet, they gave me Aggrey. I just feel cheated. I feel my hard work was in vain… eight 1s, yet I wasn’t placed in my first choice.”

Mr. Pee, a father whose daughter had aggregate 49 said, he was there to meet with a man who claimed he could help him get his daughter placed in a school where she would be able to benefit from the Free S.H.S. Programme.

“Massa, massa, massa…” was his response when I tried to draw his attention to the governments caution against such acts.

According to him, he is willing to pay any amount to see his daughter be a beneficiary of the Free Senior High School programme.

A quick stop at the Cyber Link Internet Café, located a stone’s throw from the Market Circle also revealed a similar situation, albeit with a lesser crowd.

The deadline for the Computerized School Selection Placement System (CSSPS) ends at midnight today, Thursday, after being extended twice following reports of hitches and glitches in accessing the website provided by the Ghana Education Service for the school placement process.

In a press statement which was signed by the Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, it stated that, “in view of the challenges experienced, the deadline for accessing the website to complete the placement process has been extended to midnight on Thursday, 7th September, 2017.”

The statement further went on to provide telephone numbers via which enquiries can be made.

The numbers to contact for further enquiries are: 030 274 7778 or 020 274 9017.

The Free Senior High School programme will see the government catering for the full cost of public secondary education which will cover admission, library, science centre, computer lab, examination, and utility fees.

 

. Godwin Kpade

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