Information obtained from the West African Examinations Council, coupled with painstaking research conducted by the New Statesman, indicates that ever since President John Evans Atta-Mills assumed the reins of office in January 2009, the pass-rate of students who have sat the Basic Education Certificate Examination have been on a downward decline, resulting in 574,688 young people being thrown onto the streets with no employable skills in the past three years.

The 2011 results of BECE students have been the worst in 13 years, using 1998 as the base year, with 46.93% of students achieving a pass rate and thus being eligible for placement into Senior High Schools. Out of the 375,280 students who sat for the 2011 examination, only 176,128 passed their examinations with the fate of 199,152 students left in their own hands.

In 2010, the second year under President Mills’ tenure saw 350,888 students sitting for the examination with 172,359, representing 49.12%, of students achieving a pass rate. 2009, perhaps, represented the best result achieved by President Mills’ and his NDC government with 50.21% of students achieving a pass rate.

The New Statesman can also reveal that President Mills in the foreword of the 2008 manifesto lied to Ghanaians when he stated that: “The quality of education is at an all time low with 50% of JSS students who last year [2007] sat for the Basic Education Certificate Examinations failing ‘beyond pardon’ – failure.”

Figures from the WAEC reveal that 61.28% of students, and not 50% as stated by Prof Mills, passed the 2007 BECE examination. The 2008 batch of BECE students bettered of 2007 when 210,282 students out of the 338,292 who sat the examination scored between aggregates six and 30, thus meeting the requirements for placement into second-cycle schools under the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System.

When the NPP was in power, it achieved an average pass rate of 61.25% for students who sat the BECE examination over an eight year period. 2001 represented the lowest point of BECE results under the NPP’s tenure with 60.40% of students achieving a pass rate.

The poor results of 2011 come on the bad policy decisions taken by the Mills administration. There were agitations and strike actions embarked by teachers who demanded better pay promised by President Mills in the run up to the 2008 elections and also the slashing by 6.79% of the Capitation Grant and BECE subsidy in the 2011 budget from GH¢35.5m to GH¢33m.

In 2010 the NDC government spent 7.93% of GDP on education and unsurprisingly this figure reduced in 2011 to 7.57%. Under the NDC, now and before, there is a clear policy to deprioritise and reduce spending on education, at the detriment of improving the quality of education. The result of this measure has been made evidently clear in the 2011 BECE results.