The government will absorb the registration fees of 2018 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates in public junior high schools.
The registration fee is GHc 75 per candidate in both private and government schools.
This was contained in a memo sighted by Citi News, from the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) to the Metropolitan, Municipal, District and Directors of Education.
The registration for the candidates is scheduled to take place from November 13 to December 15, 2017.
Students resitting are to register as private candidates.
WAEC warned the directors of education in the memo that it will “nullify entries of private schools that select school types wrongly and thereby do not pay fees.”
This marks the Akufo-Addo government’s latest intervention in public education after the implementation of the Free Senior High School policy which started in with the 2017/2018 academic year SHS entrants.
The BECE is required for both the certification and selection into Senior High Schools and Technical Institutions.
Is basic education really free?
The implementation of the Free Senior High School is good news for parents whose wards enrolled in second cycle institutions this year. However, for some parents in public basic schools, especially the Junior High School, the notion that basic education in Ghana is free under the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE), is just a fallacy.
In September this year, Citi News’ Farida Shaibu and Akosua Ofewaa Opoku, who visited some public Junior High Schools report that no student is admitted without having to pay for tuition, exercise books and in some cases, desks.
One of such schools is the Kwabena Atomic M/A 3 & 4 JHS located in the Dome Kwabenya constituency, where the education of a 12-year old prospective JHS girl was put on hold because her mother could not afford an amount of Ghc250 which was the total sum to be paid for various things demanded by the school.
Currently, Ghana has almost 10,000 public basic schools and public secondary schools hover around 578. The transition rate from Primary 6 to JHS1, according to the 2016 Education Sector Performance Report, has reduced by 4.4 percent nationally. This is from 99.1% in 2014/15, to 94.7% in 2015/16 academic year.
For deprived districts, this decline was even steeper: from 91.7% to 83.2% in 2015/2016.
The Ghana Education Service (GES) seems unaware that schools are charging what they term as unapproved fees. When contacted, the Public Relations Officer for the service, Reverend Jonathan Bettey, was furious about the development.
But on the minds of many Ghanaians, the question still remains as to why government is sponsoring Free SHS when the very foundation, JHS, is being neglected? With the current situation, only parents who can afford to pay over GHC400 per term can get their wards to finish JHS and progress to enjoy Free SHS.