The government is to construct dormitories for the E-Block community day senior high schools (SHS) across the country to attract more students. This follows the realisation that even though those schools have good facilities, Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates often decline to select them when they are selecting the SHSs they would want to attend after junior high school (JHS), claiming the E-Block schools are day schools which are located far from their homes.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, announced this at a press conference in Accra yesterday to give an update on the ongoing Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS).
Dr. Opoku Prempeh said, for instance, that last year, 10 of the E-Block schools were included in the list of schools under the CSSPS, but no candidate selected them for placement, adding: “I cannot force students to go to such schools.”Even though the minister described the schools as fantastic, he said students would only be attracted to them if dormitories and other amenities were attached to them.
He conceded the fact that some of the E-Blocks were located within communities and cited the Fafraha Community Day School at Adentan in Accra and the one at Kasoa in the Central Region as some of the facilities that were strategically sited. The minister further said that although the Kumasi Senior High/Technical School was not a grade ‘A’ school, more than 37,000 candidates chose to be placed in that school because of its proximity to the city.
He observed that if the E-Block schools had boarding facilities and had been sited at strategic locations, more students would have applied to go to those schools, and that would have reduced the pressure on existing boarding schools in the country.
Dr. Opoku Prempeh said since many BECE candidates were determined to attend schools such as Wesley Girls’, Holy Child, Mfantsipim, Prempeh, Achimota, among others, the government had embarked on expansion projects to create more space in those schools. The projects included the construction of two-storey dormitory and classroom blocks, as well as the rehabilitation of existing facilities, he said.
Justifying a 30 percent equity admission quota, the minister said it would not be fair if the 24.2 percent of BECE candidates from private schools were allowed to fill all the vacancies in public SHSs, saying such a system would disadvantage the 75.8 percent candidates from public JHSs. According to Dr. Opoku Prempeh, the quota system was not new, explaining that it was initially called quota for catchment areas but was changed to 30 percent public equity by the present government.
The E-Block schools were constructed as part of a Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP) with a World Bank support to the government of Ghana in the form of a loan to improve secondary education and was undertaken under the previous government.
Dr. Prempeh, however, faulted that government for siting some of the schools far away from communities, without providing those schools with boarding facilities.
He said some of the schools were located about eight kilometres from communities, asking: “How will the students go to school?”