From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Kumasi .
Mr I.K. Gyasi, a retired educationist, has advised the Ghana Education Service (GES) and government to scrap the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) if there would not be any cutoff point for students who are entering second cycle institutions in Ghana.
According to the veteran educationist, the BECE basically determines how many students qualify to enter second cycle institutions, but, since there is no cutoff point for students who benefit from the Free Senior High School (SHS) and get admitted into these schools, it would not be out of place for the GES to scrap the BECE.
Mr Gyasi, who spoke to The Chronicle in an interview over a wide range of issues, said what is currently at play is the open-ended examination, in which students take the examination and enroll into the second cycle schools, and expressed his dissatisfaction in the face of the inherent expenses and time wasting.
“I am not happy about the open-ended examination. If that is the case, then spare us the expenses and energy,” he bemoaned.
He explained that he does not abhor the Free SHS policy, which makes every child have access to education, but indicated that there was no need for the BECE, if every student had to qualify to SHS.
Referring to the backgrounds of all time greatest boxer and politician respectively, Mohammed Ali and Winston Churchill, to buttress a point, Mr. Gyasi stressed that everyone has a God-given talent which should be developed, and not necessarily pass through the SHS.
The former columnist of The Chronicle expressed worry that, as a country, we do not have a school of art, music and others to provide opportunities for people to develop their talents.
He said it should not be the end of the world for a child who does not go to school, but rather there must be an opportunity for the child to develop his or her talent.
Mr Gyasi questioned the reason why someone who wants to undertake pastry making should go to the SHS and read Home Economics.
He mentioned that a contemporary Ghanaian student should be able to read, write and have arithmetic literacy, which, according to him, should be the basic education everyone Ghanaian child should acquire.
Mr Gyasi, a former Headmaster of T.I. Ahmadiyya School (AMASS), also took a swipe against the GES stance on collection of Parent Teachers Association (PTA) dues.
The GES recently directed that the levying of PTA dues must stop, but the retired educationist has asked the GES not to demonise PTAs, since they have done a yeoman’s job in developing schools in Ghana.
He argued that had it not been for the PTAs, many SHSs would have collapsed, and said during his days at AMASS, the PTA had to bail the school by building a dormitory for the students, when the need arose.
He noted that there are instances where PTA levies go into the provision of furniture.
“Had it not been for PTAs, some schools would have collapsed, if they had not supported the government in the running of the schools, especially, at times when government’s subvention delayed,” he said.
The retired educationist admonished the government to be careful with the PTA issue, so that they don’t later tell Ghanaians that the government alone cannot develop the schools.
He further cautioned that criticising the directive should not be construed to mean an anti-government stance.
On the ban of corporal punishment, Mr Gyasi expressed his disapproval, saying caning should be part of the correction methods and must be standard.
He questioned what mechanism should be used in instilling fear in students following the ban on corporal punishment by the GES, criticising the impact of foreign cultures on us.
Mr. Gyasi emphasised that corporal punishment should be controlled to avoid excesses by some teachers.