When we allow students with poor grades to use the self-placement option of the Free SHS School Placement System to gain admission, we should surely expect such students in deprived schools where they study General Science and Business with aggregates 30-48.
According to the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) observations on the performance of the Free SHS, the abolition of cut-off grades in the admission of students has led to a situation of dumping of poor-grade students in schools, particularly deprived schools.
That is just the immediate effect of our current school placement system in the short term. In the past, all students were placed before the school placement portal is opened to the public.
Apart from the need to abolish the no cut off points policy, the self-placement system is the second biggest contributor to the dumping of poor grade students in the deprived schools.
The Free SHS policy, therefore, came along with an “evil” called Self Placement. The self-placement system introduced by the government gives students who are not placed in any of their chosen schools very often due to bad grades the chance to choose a school from a list of available ones, select a programme of choice and then accommodation.
Very often than not, the majority of such students have bad grades but given this chance, they choose programmes they can not study or do not even have an interest in. Every program has a cut-off point and we all know students with bad grades cannot perform well in General Science. A student who wants to study a technical course but was not placed could end up choosing General Science or Business or Agric Science program. Naturally, such students will struggle with the course even if they are placed in a well-endowed school. In the long run, these students will not be able to perform to our expectations.
In some instances, in the middle of the stress and fear of not getting a school, many students who are not placed are forced to choose programs available in deprived schools because those are the only ones available. They also choose deprived schools because those are the options left for them if they want to enjoy free SHS.
This revelation by the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) surely gives us glimpses of the dangers we are likely to face when these students do no perform well at the WASSCE 2020.
One easy way of resolving this challenge and ensuring students are properly placed is to take off the self-placement system entirely. This will not only reduce the high traffic to the site when the placement is out, but it will help ensure, at least students are placed by officers charged with that responsibility at the GES and the Free SHS secretariate.
The Self-placement system is not helping. If a student can do self-placement into available schools, then it is better he or she is placed in the school through the system. Such placements must not be reversed under any circumstance unless the reasons are tangible enough to merit such a change.
Again, there is an urgent need to classify public secondary schools and programs studied in each based on the minimum raw scores that can help a student gain admission into such schools. This way, some level of sanity can be brought into the school placement system.
The Free SHS secretariate, Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service must ensure that they beef up the human resource base when the placement of students into public senior high schools begins.
They must ensure students who qualify for SHS are placed through the staff and ahead of the activation of the school placement portal.
Just as there is a limit to the number of schools a student can choose, there should be a limit to the number of courses a student can choose. For instance, in choosing six (6) schools, a candidate must not choose more than three (3) programs of interest. The limited number of courses a student can choose when making school choices will help the GES and the Free SHS secretariate to do the so-called self-placement by themselves
Until we desire to improve on the system of placing students in secondary schools, poor grade students will find their way into the senior high schools and not perform well.
Source: Wisdom Hammond| NewsGhana24