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Scrapping End of Semester Or Term Based Examinations in Public Basic Schools Would Be Suicidal

The zeal of government in providing Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education to learners in our public basic schools is worth extolling. The Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service could not be left out unpraised. Their unrelenting effort in ensuring that the policy is implemented to the latter is ubiquitous. Kudos! 

Nevertheless, there is a public outcry on the issue of summative assessments (End of Semester/Term Examinations) for public basic schools. As seen in the immediate past term for primary schools, and pre-empting same for Junior High School students, they walked home without an End of Term Examination. This incidence when left unattended to would be suicidal to the sector.

May I hasten to ask; is there any policy on examinations that the micro level implementer is not aware of? This is hatching confusion in the minds of school managers and administrators. How beneficent would this policy be to the classroom learner, the facilitator (teacher), parents and policy makers if any of such exists?

The argument of using class tests or merely writing examination questions on the chalkboard should not be a debate at all. It lacks merit in the 21st century and could not hold water, expressly when stakeholders remain with immeasurable attempts in closing the quality gap between private and public education. 

To make the bases of this argument clearer, one may ask; how would School Performance Appraisal Meetings (SPAM) be conducted in the absence of End of Semester/Term Examination Results? It is a cause to worry. With a humble plea, there is no need politicising the argument. This is because at the primary school level, End of Term Examination results are the central basis of target setting at SPAM.

In furtherance, the questions that remain unanswered are: how sustainable is the cost take over of printing these examinations by government, if government could not meet its financial obligations, what happens to End of Semester/Term Examinations? These are not oratorical questions. Let us answer them with all the sincerity and make the necessary amends accordingly.

On the other hand, End of Semester/Term Examinations do not merely inform school authorities as to how positively or negatively the learner has progressed, they bridge the gap between parents/guardians and the facilitator. Similarly, after End of Semester/Term Examinations, learners send reports on their performances home. These reports inform their parents or guardian on how their wards are progressing in the school.  

Better still, it's worth appreciating the fact that, the idea of not undertaking End of Semester/ Term Examinations at the pre-tertiary level would not only weaken the foundation but serve as an incumbrance to both the facilitator (teacher) and the learner if care is not taken. 

Once again, permit me to ask; what happens to the competition between public and private schools if this artificial gap is allowed to permeate the system? 

Indisputably, when the learner gets to know that after all, learning would not be assessed at the end of the semester/term, the motivation to taking it seriously would be marginal. Not only that, the facilitator may relax and pretend covering every strand in the curriculum.

Recommendations:

1. The Ghana Education Service should make the policy on conducting End of Semester/Term Examinations for Public Basic Schools available to stakeholders so they could master it for effective implementation. 

In the midst of none;

2. The Quality Assurance Department of the Ghana Education Service should see it as a necessity and call for stakeholder engagement to reviewing the phenomenon.

3. Learners at the pre-tertiary level should be made to sit for compulsory End of Semester/Term Examinations to whip-up their interest, so they could learn harder towards passing the Basic Entrance Certificate Examination or any other.

4. Government should quickly address the hitch (if any) in releasing funds for the conduct of these examinations. The project seems to be extremely laudable from its very beginning at the various district education directorates.

5. In the midst of financial constraints on government, stakeholders at the micro level should be allowed to bring resources together and organize such examinations at well defined cost; using the already equipped printing facilities at the various district education offices. This should be backed by a by-law at the various assemblies, in order to reduce the already existing burden on government in making education free and accessible at the pre-tertiary level.

Conclusion 

A special plead goes to the Ministry of Education and the Quality Assurance Department of the Ghana Education Service to as a matter of urgency re-examine the modalities in conducting End of Semester/Term Examinations at the pre-tertiary level. This is because classroom-based exercises could not provide adequate academic records on learners.

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Free Compulsory Ghana Education Service Ministry of Education

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