CSSPS – What we all need to know

The improvement of the education sector continues to be a bane of contention as Ghana strives to train quality human resource for its development efforts.

One issue that has recently generated a lot of controversy is the School Selection and Placement System.

This piece is meant to explain the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) which was introduced some few years ago to improve the selection process and thereby address some of the challenges that previously characterised placement into secondary schools.

The CSSPS is not meant to create further challenge for anxious parents, guardians and wards but to introduce a mechanised mode of selection without much human interference.

Whilst there might have been some level of challenges at the initial introduction of the CSSPS, arising out of a misunderstanding of how the system operated, enough information gathered with its implementation has informed a much better system and hopefully, we shall all embrace the system as the most effective and efficient way of placing qualified students in secondary schools.

Selections and Qualification in Placement Process

For a candidate to qualify for selection and placement, the grades obtained in any of four core subjects must not exceed grade five. The candidate’s minimum grade in any best two subjects should not exceed grade six. The candidate’s best two subjects should not be more than aggregate 30 if the two are added to the four core subjects.

A candidate is disqualified in the selection and placement if any of his/her core subjects exceeds six or any core subjects are cancelled by WAEC due to examination malpractices or other reason.

Since a greater number of Junior High School (JHS) students sit for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and could all qualify for their first choice schools, the CSSPS uses raw scores of candidates for the selection process.

Also, qualified BECE candidates who were unable to obtain admission or deferred admission to SHS or Technical Institutions within the immediate past three years are also eligible for selection and placement process alongside the current year candidates.

Non-Ghanaian candidates, Ghanaian candidates domiciled in foreign countries and seeking admission to Ghanaian schools and children of Ghanaian citizens on foreign missions seeking admission to Senior School or Technical/Vocational Institutes in Ghana are also qualified for the selection process.

Raw Scores Selection and Displacement

The system processes total raw scores of six subjects instead of grades of each candidate. This selection is done on merit by placing all candidates in their first choice schools using the ranking order. The raw scores of each candidate are then used. This unfortunately seems to displace some students whose raw scores might be slightly weaker than their other mates as a matter of merit or better performance. This might displace first choice candidates with second choice candidates.

For example, if all available vacancies in a low-scoring candidate’s (Mansa’s) first choice school is exhausted, her total score will be ranked with those of first choice candidates for her second-choice school. If Mansa’s total score is higher than that of any candidate already selected for her second choice school, that candidate will be automatically replaced by Mansa, regardless of the fact that the displaced candidate selected the school as her first choice.

Choice of Schools from Regions

Parents before choosing schools for their children must ensure that they choose a day school in their region if they want their children to attend day schools. Unfortunately, some candidates choose schools outside their region which are not boarding schools and yet intend that their children attend a boarding school. This causes inconvenience to such candidates who gain admission to such schools.

Placement in schools with limited boarding facilities is highly competitive; candidates have the opportunity to choose six schools and all these are considered in the placement.

In avoiding the inconvenience and problems associated with the above, parents in collaboration with the school authorities and active participation of their respective children must join hands in choosing SHS or Technical/Vocational Institutes and Programmes, the selection should not be left to the candidate alone.

Parents must co-operate with teachers or school counsellors to determine the best programme for their children, since they are likely to know the strength and weakness of the students they teach, remembering that the choice their children make today will determine their future.

Some parents sometimes underestimate the academic capabilities of their children; they sometimes choose ‘lesser-endowed schools” to ensure that their children get their first choice schools. However, if the child should excel beyond expectation they then attempt to disrupt the selection process by seeking admission for them in “well-endowed or prestigious schools”.

Parents end up wasting money travelling from region to region looking for admission; giving the impression that the number of public schools available is not adequate to absorb the number of qualified candidates.

Parents are advised to take the registration exercise seriously and select schools where their children’s chances of gaining admission are high. Under-estimation and over-estimation of candidates’ academic performance should be avoided.

Candidates are at liberty to select Senior Secondary Schools, Technical/Vocational Institutes or both, however, the candidate’s choices must be listed in order of preference and the correct code number for each indicated as directed on the registration cards and scanable forms.

They must ensure that their preferred programmes are offered in the schools of their preference. There should be no confusion between the programmes offered in Senior High Schools and trades offered in Technical/Vocational Institutes. Care must be taken to note or indicate the correct code number for each programme selected.

Candidates are also advised to take their studies seriously as the selection process is based on merit. Also it must be noted that this is the only sure way to make good grades and gain admission to one’s preferred choice of school.

Most importantly, it is incumbent on all Ghanaians to accept the placement done by the computer and not rely on influencing officials in charge of the CSSPS placement to change schools that have been already selected by the system for their wards.

Under the CSSPS, there is nothing like “last minute” changes in choice of schools because there is no vacancy left in any school once the computer does the selection. The CSSPS is intended to address the recurring stress and frustrations which have become characteristic of the manual system. It is therefore important to make realistic choices when selecting schools for candidates in order to make the selection and placement system effective.

The Ministry of Education and the GES are counting on the co-operation of parents, teachers, administrators, candidates and the general public for the success of the CSSPS.