Students Failure at the SHS is a Sign of Poor Education System - Peter Bismark

Everyone is shell-shock at any time of the release of West African Examination Council’s (WAEC) Senior High School results. Over the years, students who sit for WAEC examinations of more than 280,000 registered candidates usually do have poor performances of the outcome. There hasn’t been a year where about just 40% of the total candidates have ever been recorded to pass. To be retrospective, the failures in the four compulsory core subjects ushering students into “tertiaryhood” have fallen in standard. Senior High school students transition to the universities after the release of the WAEC results, but with average pass between 21%-31%  denote that, the drastic decline in the number of candidate pass looks very appalling, making our education peevish.

Stakeholders, Civil societies, and other traditional non-governmental agencies have all contributed verbally or materially to improving the standard of education but still, the system is oozing out  worse outcomes. It is unequivocal to seeing high failures in some subject areas. A number of workshops and trainings organized by the Ghana Education Service (GES), KOICA, JAICA, etc together with other state interventions have never materialized. Our educational system is politically malleable at all time. We often jaw-jaw transiently and impetuously put up measures for a shorter term benefits. Cursory interventions from GES and other stakeholders complicate the curricular contents, leading to the abysmal performances. When would there be a paragon educational system? Ghana has a lot of pretexts in all sectors of the economy.

It seems the whole system has been set up for failure. The system places emphasis on high ability group leaving behind the low ability group especially those in the rural areas. Most subjects taught lack diversification and paucity. Government spends between 30%-40% of the national budget on education (seemingly not enough), but the inadequate funding ought not to be a reason for the poor standard of education. The bureaucratic administrative activities within the public schools cannot be over looked. Most people think more spending would improve the system but it is a sophistry.  Government tends to looking at the inputs and increasing enrollment but not the outcome.

Ghana needs a long term antidote in curbing the high failures in mathematics and science education. Education is the combination of land, labor and capital goods, directed to particular objectives – instruction in academic subjects and related matters demanded by a class of consumers, primarily, parents.

We need to extend both parents and pupils controls over educational institutions by acquiring each family to select and pay for its own children’s education. Public school undermines individual and family choice and responsibility and stifles innovation and variety in education.

Taxation for educational purposes should be restricted to providing aid through a voucher mechanism to those families unable to pay for their own children’s education (Rand Paul).

In 2016, about 205,000 Senior High School leavers would not get admission into the public universities. Only 68,000 passed the WASSCE making 24.7% of the total 274,262.



Have an educational policy for a longer term regardless of any political party in Power. Any government that comes into power has to adhere and improve upon it rather than changing it. An educational policy for about 30 years would be of help. We need to test each system for a longer time and access its long term benefits and avoid the hasty reformation and ephemeral policies.


The basic (primary) school placement of teachers must never be over looked. As the name suggest BASIC SCHOOL, the failure in mathematics, ostensibly roots out from the primary. Pragmatic mathematics teachers who can vary their teaching methodologies must be sent there to build the foundation of these kids. Most Basic school teachers from our research are nebulous in understanding such critical thinking subjects. The dexterity in using teaching and learning materials and the methodologies matters. It’s very incomprehensive how GES haphazardly assign teachers their districts and classrooms. To construe this, it is obvious that, the subject areas of trained teachers are overlooked. Give teachers the right subjects to teach and this would be vigorously effective to promoting mathematics and science lessons. We need teachers who can motivate and wipe away the misconception that Mathematics a difficult subject.

Emphasize on improving EQUITY, QUALITY and OUTCOME of our education. We place much emphasis on high enrollment and infrastructures rather than the quality of the outcome. The higher the enrollment, the higher the failure. Increment in enrollment is of no doubt a better option but to some extent does not make the outcome prolific. Quality inputs must reflect the outcome.

Education and its decentralization motives must be well spelt out for some district directors to initiate their own policies and programs. Competition is the sole driving factor for innovation and improvement, so why not introduce competition? We need to adapt the free market approach to education.

There must be another independent examination body to put WAEC on its toes and a free choice of where to undertake the annual standardized test. This is a pensive one and the credibility of these bodies would be recommended by all stakeholders.

Political reform programs and political appointments of district educational directors and Head teachers ought to be eschewed. This must be done on merits rather than the arbitrary means and prejudices.

Why should government alone determine what is and what is not acceptable education? But why not parents since they are the consumer? Parents and the private sector should be free to determine what is and what not acceptable academic education and is for the same reason they are free to choose which telecommunication network to use. The world is open-ended and We do not know what we will learn tomorrow.

Extra-curricular and co-curricular activities must be arranged carefully in the school and on the districts school calendars.





Is our educational system designed to continually fail students sitting the examination?

Since the introduction of SSCE/WASSCE, why have we not been able make it pass 35% pass rate apart from 2012? Could it be the way subjects are taught or the nature of the examination are not in line with the teaching methodologies?

Do we need a regional examination bodies like WAEC to free the educational system to promote competition?

Are examiners provided professional development to be abreast with assessment methods beyond the coordination meeting they attend?

What is WAEC’s engagement with parents, teachers, schools and students beyond the examination?

How do we improve on our gains at WAEC examination?

Government and other stakeholders have over the years invested heavily in programs to beef up performance yet the results from WAEC shows the opposite. Are the state interventions not achieving its purpose?

What has been WAEC’s engagement with these interventions by government and the NGOs/CSOs?