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BECE re-sit, a welcome relief

Monday, 09 February 2015 10:13

The Ministry of Education, together with the West African Examination Council (WAEC), has finalised a deal allowing 1,181 private candidates of Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) to rewrite their exams for the first time.

The fee for the registration ranges from GH¢75 to GH¢105 depending on the number of subjects being registered by the candidate.

The examination, covering 21 subject areas, is slated to start on February 16 and end on February 20 in all the regional capitals and the Bia District in the Western Region, with 75 examiners expected to supervise the exercise.

Four persons with disability - one deaf and three blind candidates - would take part in the maiden examination that would witness 1,136 candidates writing Mathematics while 1,057 sit for English.

The Western Region recorded the highest entry figure of 276 whilst the Upper East Region recorded the lowest figure of 28.

Head of WAEC, Rev Nii Nmai Ollenu explained that the examination was opened to only re-sitters and first-timers, and to prevent students who were still in Junior High School from registering, re-sitters were asked to provide the index numbers and year of examination of their previous sitting.

He said first-timers were, on the other hand, initially required to be 18 years or above but this was later revised to 16 years to afford those who dropped out of school early the opportunity to sit again.

Education Minister, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang expressed joy that the teenagers finally have the opportunity to move to the next ladder of education. 

According to the Ghana Education Service (GES), only 60% of pupils who write the BECE make it into senior high schools. 

The assumption, therefore, is that the remaining 40% either go into informal vocational or technical training, or they learn a trade or sit idle.

These statistics are not good for an aspiring middle-income country that wants to break through into the ranks of the developed world.  

At the basic education level, education is supposed to be free and compulsory to ensure a progressive workforce for a growing economy; not as a stop-gap for the future.

Children who sit BECE are usually around 14 or 15 and are legally not allowed to work; so if at the basic level their education is terminated as a result of their inability to qualify for senior high school, then they are virtually left to ‘rot’ and be a burden on society.

Basic education is supposed to prepare the pupil for a sound footing, and not meant to be a terminating point. 

We should be concerned that all school-going children are given a good education to prepare them for the competitive world they are bound to face in later life.

It is for these reasons that The Finder congratulates the Ministry of Education and WAEC for listening to public criticism and instituting the BECE re-sit.


Enquire into police ‘murders’

Tuesday, 10 February 2015 10:48

Last Friday, a first year student of the Saint Paul’s Senior High School (SPACO) at Denu was hit and killed by a stray bullet when the police was called in to quell disturbances at the school.

Adio Rahkee, 14, was said to have been hit by a stray bullet fired by the police when enraged students of the school went on rampage vandalising school property and attacking tutors of the school.

In this country, hardly will the police be called to control violence without one hearing or reading about a death(s) through stray bullets.

The Finder has on several occasions expressed concern over the way police handle or control riots in this country. 

Clearly, this stray bullet phenomenon is destroying the image of the Police Service and the country, and the earlier a firm decision is taken on it, the better it will be for all.

It is our view that there was no need for the police to have fired warning shots in the Saint Paul’s Senior High School incident.

Surely, other riot control methods could have been adopted to save lives, which did not happen. 

The begging question is: why should Ghana Police even fire live bullets into a crowd of rowdy students?

In advanced jurisdictions, though protesters throw stones at the police, they do not react with warning shots. 

Instead, they use water cannons, and as the protesters retreat, officers with riot control gadgets pursue them. 

Unfortunately, this method is not commonly used in Ghana by the police, as they seem to prefer using warning shots, which in most of the cases result in deaths.

The use of firearms as the first response to a student riot is to say the least appalling. 

If the Police Service does not have the needed equipment to control violence, the government should take urgent steps to get it for them. Ghanaians are tired of these stray bullet deaths.

The Police Service must also investigate the numerous stray bullet deaths and punish the officers found guilty.


Make GYEEDA work this time round

Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:26

The country’s unemployment problem is still daunting because our various governments have not taken any long-term measures on job creation.

However, any effort by the central government to play the frontline role in creating job openings that will depend on the national coffers is not only frightening but is also stillborn and doomed to fail.

It has long been held that job creation should not be the responsibility of government.

Rather, government should create the congenial environment for private sector entrepreneurs to create jobs.

During the administration of ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, the National Youth Employment Programme was instituted to create jobs for the youth.

The programme was fraught with corruption, and millions were lost. Following the exposé on corruption, government suspended the programme and reinstituted restructuring.

Now, the bill backing the programme, which has been dubbed Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), has been passed into law with the aim of employing about a 100,000 youths “in the shortest possible time.”

The law is the final legislative piece that settles questions about how the Youth Employment Agency, known as GYEEDA, should be run after scandalous revelations last two years painted a sordid picture of a government programme poorly run and badly corrupt.

Thirty thousand youths are expected to be assigned to the sanitation sector where government also runs a monthly National Sanitation Day clean-up exercise.

The bill was not passed without drama. The Minority maintained last week that funding provisions in the bill tee up government officials to be corrupt. 

They are not happy that 15% of the District Assemblies' Common Fund will go to fund the programme.

Rising on the floor to halt the passage of the bill at its third reading, Minority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu asked for a second consideration of the bill to ensure further scrutiny.

This was a move the Speaker would not countenance. A voice vote nailed the new bill into law awaiting presidential assent within seven days.

Minority member Papa Owusu Ankomah, after the passing of the Bill, predicted that “what Parliament has approved will only enable government to gather money and spend it without any regulation.”

An issue worth explaining to the general public is the procedure for recruiting people into GYEEDA.

It is important for those in charge to look for only those who are interested in helping GYEEDA succeed and not those who are mere political party activists with no serious interest or skills to work for the betterment of the programme.

The criteria being used for the recruitment must be made clear and the recruitment procedures transparent so that no “job-for-the-boys” problem arises

It is important for GYEEDA to be turned into a viable self-supporting venture instead of depending on the national coffers for funds to pay salaries and for overhead expenditure.



Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:31

By Anthony Gingong

As a little boy the city called Accra was a place with limitless enjoyment, in fact the Paradise the Bible talks about. I was made to understand Accra was allergic to poverty and human suffering, and was addicted to solving all the challenges imposed by poverty, ignorance and disease. No wonder anytime a village folk sojourned to Accra and came back, we held a vigil at his/her home to listen to the endless stories of good life, which apparently were exaggerated and imaginative.  The sea was said to be the end of the world and its water could cure your tooth decay as well as guinea worm infection. I still fail to forget when my maternal uncle (a sub-chief) stated categorically that in Accra cars were more than human beings, and when he was asked who then drives the cars, he fell asleep instantly and only woke up after the relevance of the question had elapsed. My dream was to be in this paradise, where I will meet the angels responsible for good schools, success, wealth, jobs, natural but artistically designed ladies, and a customised car.

I first came to Accra in 1987on a dual purse: to visit my cousin, the late Mr Fabian Mork, an accomplished plastic surgeon who led the establishment of the Burns and Plastic Surgery Unit of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital; and to seek transfer from the Tamale Nurses Training Colleague to Korle-Bu Nurses Training Colleague. Mr Mork had worked as a general surgeon and later got a scholarship to pursue further specialisation in plastic surgery. The recommendation came as a surprise to him and the family as Fabian was an introvert and hardly mixed with peers. We later got to know that his hard work was picked by the National Security Advisor at that time who recommended him. Mr Mork died two years after retirement and has suddenly been forgotten. The country Ghana, the Ministry of Health, KBTH, and the numerous students he taught all have forgotten of a patriot.

Let’s support technology programmes

Thursday, 12 February 2015 10:43

One of the daunting challenges in development economics is finding the right matrix of factors that determine economic development. 

Technological progress is universally recognized as the most indispensable ingredient that connects all the spokes of the wheel of economic development and this cannot be debated.

To a large extent, the state of technological progress of any society can tell a great deal about how deep a country taps into its wellspring of creativity and ingenuity and this even more pertinent when we narrow it down to the youth of this country.

The question we ought to be asking ourselves as a country is how do we achieve and sustain improved technological progress? 

Technological progress comes from innovation and new ideas, which in turn depend on research and development (R&D). It is therefore important for us to establish an ecosystem for research and development by developing a culture for science, technology and creativity, and putting in place the complementary investments for developing a research infrastructure. 

This means that government investments in research and development should be very crucial to unlocking the keys to our technological progress.

It is worth noting that in most economically advanced countries such as China and India, governments are playing a leading role in investing in research and development. 

The Business Finder is impressed with efforts by some private entities in Ghana to encourage young graduates to take to the innovation and development of technology oriented projects.

We are aware that the United States (US) Embassy in Ghana has been extremely supportive of such programmes, likewise the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) has been training, mentoring and investing in young technology- minded entrepreneurs and African startups from Ghana and Nigeria.

Last week, the US Embassy in Accra in partnership with youth group, GhanaThink Foundation hosted 100 young social entrepreneurs from Ghana, Benin, Burkina faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo in a capacity building and networking session.

Dubbed ‘Techcamp West Africa,’ the initiative was to encourage cross-border collaboration, inspire entrepreneurship and promote increased trade across borders. 

We are confident that this initiative will considerably equip young graduates with the latest skills in technology and make them entrepreneurial and less dependent on white-colour jobs.

MEST recently partnered the African Technology Foundation (ATF) to support what they call great African technology entrepreneurs.

The landmark partnership aims to redefine the future of African technology entrepreneurs, address key sectorial challenges and spark a new wave of investments and innovation in African-led technology enterprises.

We are of the view that investments as these are worth supporting. Ghana cannot afford to be left behind in the current wave of excitement that has greeted digital entrepreneurship across the continent.

We ought to commit ourselves to  promote and incentivize foreign investment in our technology sector. 


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Frivolous state expenditure, one too many

Friday, 13 February 2015 11:17

It is a well known fact that the economic conditions in the country at the moment are not at their very best. To put it bluntly, times are hard and each and every Ghanaian is reeling under very harsh economic conditions and the pertaining enrgy crises even makes the situation more precarious.

A few weeks ago, the President of the Republic made a passionate appeal to Ghanaians to bear with the situation as his team were working around the clock to bring the situation under control and to set the country on a new footing for an economic take off.

But while we trust the President to deliver on his promise, the conduct of some of his ministers and appointees are sending the wrong signals to the citizenry making it difficult to bear with the exigencies of the time. 

We recall that our last appearance at the world cup in Brazil, Ghana became the butt of all jokes in the international media for our mismanagement of our affairs at the tournament when we air lifted hard American Dollars on board a plane to appease players of the national team, who had held their managers hostage threatening to abandon the tournament unless they saw cash.

 The disgraceful revelations at the Justice Dzamefe Commission should have at least thought the handlers of our national team some lessons, but that would be too much to ask of our current crop of leaders.

It is emerging that, the just ended AFCON tournament in which Ghana placed second is pregnant with many issues mismanagement involving a reckless spending of the tax payer’s money.

Last Tuesday, the Minister of Sports Mr  Mahama Ayariga left a sour taste in the mouth of many Ghanaians when he revealed that he shuttled to and fro Equatorial Guinea four times during the tournament.

Again, he insists that he owes the tax payer no explanation on how much of the tax payer’s money was used at the tournament.

Until Mr Ayariga is able to prove that he made those trips from his personal pocket, we at the Weekend Finder find his action as a total waste of the tax payer’s money.

Again that, a group of supporters were airlifted with state funds to support the Stars at their last game is in its own league of foolhardiness.

The growing penchant for always finding resources to fund frivolous activities at the expense of critical development are becoming one too many and it will not be long before the citizens begin to revolt. 

 The country is in a crises and Ministers and government appointees must learn to be prudent. 


English proficiency, key to passing exams

Monday, 16 February 2015 11:10

Michael Avorgah, the Science and Mathematics Co-ordinator at Agortime-Ziope District Directorate of Education, has said low proficiency in the English language is a major cause of bad performances in science and mathematics in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in rural areas.

 According to him, “If you do not grasp a question, obviously you cannot tackle it. Meaning, therefore, also that you probably did not fully understand lessons, of course, taught in English.”

Mr Avorgah also observed that many of the students at the junior high schools had “weak foundations” requiring that teachers put in more than the optimum to make an impact.

He said apathy on the part of students and parents was also a contributory factor.

The view of Mr Avorgah reignites the debate about Ghana Education Service’s language policy.

The decision to use languages other than English as the medium of instruction in the first three years of basic education will hurt the nation. With this policy, the managers of the Ghanaian educational system are embarking, yet again, on needless experiment that will not help anyone.

In countries such as Kenya, every national document written in English has a Swahili equivalent. 

Swahili is a language everyone speaks and, so for Kenyans, it is so easy to draw up a uniform code of instruction for teachers to follow. 

Consequently, teaching children in Swahili, which is an official national language, is in the right direction.

However, in Ghana, there are more than 40 local languages. It will be very costly - impossible, in other words - to draw up a uniform code of instruction at the lower primary level.

Imagine a situation where a child moves from Accra – where Ga is supposed to be the medium of instruction – to, say, Dzodze, where they teach in Ewe. How on earth is he going to learn anything in the new language?

Finally, this policy of instructing pupils at the lower level is being introduced at a time when there is serious concern about the quality of spoken and written English in Ghana. 

If the GES proceeds to implement this policy, the problem will get worse – not better. 

If those who were introduced to the English language much earlier in life cannot speak and write it so well, how does anyone expect those who get a late introduction to do better?

This new language policy is yet another dangerous experiment the Ghanaian education system can very conveniently do without. 

Apart from local language, all examination questions are written in English. The first step to passing exams is the ability to read the questions written in English and understand them.

It is only when a candidate understands the question that he or she can provide the right answer.  

Therefore, GES must reconsider the language policy and ensure that English is used as medium of instruction from kindergarten. 


Arrest perpetrators of Atebubu religious conflict now

Tuesday, 17 February 2015 11:18

Last week, a mission house of the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) was set ablaze by a group of rampaging Muslim youth at Atebubu in the Brong Ahafo Region in a dispute over a piece of land.

The land under contention is situated between the SDA church and the mosque of the Tijaniyya Muslim group.

The confusion began when the Muslim group decided to build a wall around the land, but this was vehemently resisted by the leadership of the SDA church.

This infuriated the youth group, who, according to reports, began vandalising the properties of the church.

The Brong Ahafo Regional Police Commander, ASP Christopher Tawiah, who confirmed the incident, said the two groups have been fighting over that particular parcel of land for quite some time now.

He said even though the land is located within the Muslim community, where the church is also sited, a court has ruled that the land legitimately belongs to the church.

It is important to note that elsewhere in the world there have been numerous religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians, and even sometimes intra-religious conflicts.

Our next-door neighbour Nigeria is a typical example. Thousands of innocent people have been killed as a result of religious conflict.

Nigeria's election commission announced that a poll due on February 14 would be pushed back by six weeks, citing security fears. 

The election will now be held on March 28.

However, Ghana continues to grow and develop because of inter- and intra-religious tolerance.  

It is exhilarating to see such a high level of tolerance existing between the various religious denominations in the country.

This demonstrates a high sense of maturity on the part of the leadership of religions groups, which is important for national unity and development.

The Finder is worried that the police are yet to take drastic action against Muslim youth at Atebubu who burnt down the SDA church.

Once the police have established that a court has ruled in favour of the SDA church as the rightful owners of the land, the police must ensure that perpetrators face the full rigours of the law, including paying for the cost of properties destroyed.

The police also have a responsibility to supervise the construction of a wall around the land by the SDA church to secure it for good.

Such drastic action on the part of the police will send a strong signal to the Muslim youth and other religious organisations that they cannot do as they pleases and go scot free.

The Inspector General of Police, National Security and the Bureau of National Investigations must all take interest in this particular case to send a signal to all religious bodies that such lawless acts would not be tolerated. 

Failure to do this is a recipe for disaster.


We want violence-free demo

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 14:35

Starting from today the country will witness waves of demonstrations to protest the erratic power supply, popularly called ‘Dumsor,’ and the worsening economic situation.

Thousands of Ghanaians are expected to take part in the anti-government demonstrations.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) will set the tone today with a demonstration to protest the erratic power supply in the country.  

Six days after the NPP demonstration, the Movement For Change (MFC), a pressure group within the NPP, will on February 24 organise another demonstration in the Kumasi Metropolis against the government on the current socio-economic challenges facing the country.         

 A group calling itself Concerned Ghanaians has also set March 6 to embark on a demonstration to express its resentment over government’s handling of the power challenges.  

It is important to note that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. This is a right closely linked to the right to freedom of expression.

It provides a means for public expression and is one of the foundations of a democratic society.

This right only applies to peaceful gatherings and does not protect intentional violent protest.

For this reason, the various groups have a responsibility to ensure that the demonstrations are peaceful.

The Finder is appealing to the NPP and other groups that have planned demonstrations to follow the routes agreed with the police.

Protesters must behave as civilised individuals marching for the good of the country by avoiding all forms of violence.

It is worth reminding all of us that violent demonstrations may result in needless injuries and the loss of lives.

While cautioning protesters, it is also important to advise the police to act professionally to avoid use of force.

The police have a responsibility to protect life and property. However, it is incumbent on the police to restrain themselves from using force at the slightest provocation.

In advance jurisdictions, we have seen police restrain themselves from using violence even when protesters engage in violent acts.

Personnel of the Ghana Police Service face similar tests in the three demonstrations starting from today.

DCOP Nathan Kofi Boakye, Ashanti Regional Police Commander, and his men demonstrated the highest sense of professionalism in recent time when NPP protesters in Kumasi used unapproved routes.

Even though the police could have used force to whip the protesters in line, DCOP Kofi Boakye restrained his men and, in the end, everything was peaceful and successful.

In is the hope of The Finder that police in Accra would do same in the event that today’s protest, which is billed to attract one of the largest crowds in recent time, suffers similar challenges.

We have come far and cannot, and will not, accept any misconduct on the part of the police.