Secondary schools in Ghana have been categorized into four broad groups which have led to increased preference for some particular schools over others.
For instance, students would prefer Achimota SHS to Odogonor SHS even though they have not been to both schools before. Parents, on the other hand, also prefer their wards to be enrolled in some schools and not others.
There are several reasons that account for this preference for some schools by both BECE graduates and parents.
However, before we look at that, let us take a look at the main factors considered in the categorization of secondary schools in Ghana.
The major factor that is considered in grouping secondary schools in Ghana into categories A to D is the facilities that exist in the said school.
Secondary schools that have nearly all the facilities required in a school are classified as Category A schools. What this means is that in such a school all the basic school facilities have been provided.
These include classrooms, laboratories, dormitories, and other essential facilities.
Schools in Category B also have the needed facilities but cannot be compared with those in Category A just as those in C have fewer school amenities or facilities compared to B.
The schools are not often classified based on their performance at the WASSCE.
However, for learners and parents, choosing a secondary school and or attending a secondary school today is influenced by several factors.
The truth is that every student wants to attend a category A or B school. This desire for such schools which creates competition can be traced to several factors.
The history behind the school
Schools have history and culture, which may cover areas such as affluent and respectable persons in society who received their secondary education there.
The school’s previous academic and sports achievements, for instance, can influence the choice or preference for these schools. Achimota, Presec Legon, Aburi Girls are among some of these schools.
Academic performance of past students
The academic success attained by Category A and B school students at the WASSCE is a contributing factor to students and parents choosing these schools during the school selection stage of the BECE registration.
Performance of the school in the National Science and Maths Quiz
Schools that contest in the NSMQ and do well also attract more students in subsequent years.
Their performance becomes the means by which students in JHS judge and choose them during the school selection phase, especially students who want to study General Science at the SHS.
Facilities available in the school
The facilities available in a given secondary school makes it attractive and a preference for many students. Every year, such schools are oversubscribed by students completing JHS. The sad reality is that students whose academic strength will not permit them to attend these schools also choose them.
The prestige attached to attending a particular school
Prestige is attached to nearly everything in life, including the secondary schools in Ghana. Parents want to ensure their wards are enrolled in some specific schools as prestige and will work hard at it. Nearly every parent wants his or her ward to become a student in a top school in Ghana.
The classification of schools has created an impression that some schools are better than others. The reality is that all schools are not the same in terms of the available infrastructure, but the qualification of the teachers in all these schools are nearly the same.
In a related development, the general secretary of GNAT, Thomas Musah has disclosed that the categorization of schools is also based on the outcome of academic activities including the performance of schools. He argued that the classification of SHS into groups based on their performance in the area of academics is not helping the nation.
In a publication sighted by Examhall.org, Mr. Msusa is on record to have said that “If you classify one school as A, another as B, and another as C, it creates the impression that the C schools are not good, and I think we must do away with the grades A, B, C, and D (categorization),” Mr. Thomas Musah said.
One key thing that can deal with the need to categorize schools is for the government to be committed to improving the educational facilities of all schools to the highest status.
If this nation can save the millions that we lose through corruption and save scarce resources for this, we can transform the infrastructure of several schools each year.