Under the guise of staging mock examinations and extra classes, basic school authorities have resorted to charging pupils high registration fees for the Basic Education Certificate Examination, in spite of heavy government subsidy.
Checks by the B&FT from various basic schools revealed that some school authorities charge as much as GH¢200.00 for BECE registration, even though government subsidises the registration fee by as much as 70percent.
The situation has led to a lot of disparity in the fees charged for the BECE by various schools. For instance, at the Nungua Presby Basic School in Accra, parents paid GH¢200 as registration fee for their children who will write the BECE in June, 2017, whilst students at the Amanokrom Presby Basic School in the Eastern Region paid GH¢100.00.
Also, at the Ahwerase LA JHS in the Eastern Region, students were asked to pay GH?45.
Sources at these schools told the B&FT that the payment includes charges for extra classes and mock examinations.
A parent who paid GH?200 at the Nungua Presby Basic School said “they [school authorities] told me it includes extra-classes fee and mock examination.”
She added that the school authorities told them the children will write five mock examinations before they finally write the BECE.
Since 2016, government has been providing subsidy for the registration of BECE candidates. In that year, about 461,000 candidates benefited from the subsidy.
This year, government made another provision to cover 70 percent of BECE registration fees for 467,692 candidates, both private and public.
Government has further promised to fully absorb the BECE registration fee starting from the 2018 academic year, for all public Junior High School (JHS) students and also continue to subsidize the registration fees for private JHS students.
Government, in 2005, initiated free basic education and introduced capitation grant, with an annual per capita grant amount of GH?3.00, which was increased to GH?4.50 in 2009.
However, in the 2017 budget statement, it was stated that “high cost of living has rendered the amount insufficient compelling schools to charge levies, making it difficult for children from poor backgrounds to participate fully in basic education.”
To address this problem, President Akufo-Addo has said his government will increase the capitation grant by 100 percent to GH? 9.00 per child per annum, and introduce equity in government support to schools by restructuring disbursement of capitation.
Again, he said his government will introduce equal amounts of base grant to be paid to all schools at the beginning of the academic year; disburse 50 percent of total capitation as base grant and the remaining 50 percent on per capita basis.
As part of this initiative, government said BECE will be used as a tool for placement of students into second cycle schools and not for certification.
Source: Benson Afful l thebftonline.com l Ghana