In a prelude to its manifesto watch program for the year, VIAM Africa has supported the policy position by the Progressive People's Party (PPP) to scrap the Basic Education Certificate Examination.

The education think tank, in a correspondence to the PPP, said the policy initiative is long overdue.

The PPP in its 2012 manifesto promised to implement a continuous secondary education for all pupils as against the competitive BECE policy that had been executed over several years.

The PPP is convinced the BECE limits access to education to a good number of pupils and believes a continuous secondary education program will empower the pupils all the more.

VIAM Africa agrees entirely with the policy to scrap the BECE and cited two key reasons. In the correspondence, VIAM Africa said the validity of the BECE policy is questionable.

"The BECE focuses on selecting few above-average students who qualify to pursue grammar/general secondary education programs at the SHS," a selection process VIAM Africa believes is flawed.

Quoting portions of the  Anamuah-Mensah’s Education Review Committee Report, the VIAM Africa Executive Director Dr Prince Armah said  the Stanine system of grading in BECE cannot be used as the measure of a student's ability.

Dr Armah further said in the correspondence, "there is some evidence to suggest that a large proportion of  pupils who fail to pass the exams and/or do not qualify for SHS are from disadvantaged backgrounds, suggesting a high achievement gap between students from underserved communities and those from seemingly affluent communities. This raises equity and social justice issues which have become a global concern within the education policy space, particularly in the context of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 of improved learning outcomes for all."

While applauding the PPP for its bold policy initiative, VIAM Africa pointed out what it says is a potential flaw in the trend analysis done by the PPP in its 2012 manifesto.

The party said the standard of education at the JHS level was falling at an abysmal rate and sought to compare the results and performance over the years in a trend analysis but the VIAM Africa head in the correspondence to the PPP said such trend analysis may potentially be flawed.

"We find this trend analysis questionable and wish to advise you to be cautious of any such analysis in future for the following reason. As mentioned earlier, the BECE is evaluated by measuring a candidate’s performance against their peers who sat the same exams (i.e. norm-referenced) with fixed percentages for each grade obtained every year."

"The implication is that, the top 4% (Grade 1) of the 2010 BECE in Mathematics, for instance, may comprise of pupils who obtained scores from 70-85%, whilst that of 2011 may be 65-70%, and that of 2012 may be 66-78% depending on the performance of the pupils in each year," the correspondence said.

The think tank will soon begin its manifesto watch program and will conduct a surgical analysis of the education policies of the various political parties ahead of the 2016 elections.

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