The 1987 educational reforms compressed the four-year middle school and the traditional secondary system into the three-year Junior Secondary School (JSS) and four-year Senior Secondary School (SSS). The average age of JSS admissions is twelve.
Formerly, student admissions to the secondary schools were based on results of the standardized Common Entrance Examination, which was taken during the middle school years. Successful candidates completed a five-year secondary school program and then wrote the WAEC-conducted examination for the General Certificate of Education at the Ordinary Levels (GCE O-level) in specialized subjects of study.
From here, the most successful students gained admission to the few Upper Secondary Schools (Sixth Form) for two more years. Sixth form graduates wrote another standardized examination at the Advanced Levels (GCE A-level) in specialized courses. Admission to the various departments of the national universities then followed, but the majority of students from the old system, who did not continue to the universities, either joined the general workforce or sought admission to postsecondary teacher colleges.
Unlike the former middle schools, the objective for the creation of the JSS included the need to train students in skill development, with a special emphasis on vocational education, science, technology, and creativity. Furthermore, the JSS ensured that girls received greater access to postprimary education.
The program called for the inculcation of a healthy appreciation of cultural heritage (history and geography) and the development of sound moral attitudes.
The curriculum developed for the achievement of the set goals included courses in mathematics, social studies, cultural studies, Ghanaian languages and English, technical and vocational skills, agriculture, and physical education.
The standardized examination conducted by the WAEC evaluates students' achievements at this level and makes it possible for admission into the senior secondary schools, technical institutes, or vocational schools (sometimes referred to as colleges).
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