A record number of 11,815 candidates have registered for the 2018 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for Private Candidates.
The figure outnumbers the total candidature of the last three examinations put together.
As has been the case with the BECE over the years, the Ashanti Region has the highest number of candidates of 1,404 while the Upper West Region has the lowest number of 148 candidates.
Last year, a total of 1,379 candidates sat for the examination while 1,418 candidates took part in the examination in 2016. The maiden edition of the examination in 2015 had 1,181 candidates.
It is likely that this year’s large number of candidates, who have registered to take part in the BECE for Private Candidates in February, have done so to enable them to enjoy the benefits of the free SHS policy introduced last year.
In an interview with the Head of Public Affairs of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, she also said the new policy must have had a big role to play in generating the interests of young people to sit for the examination this year.
According to her, many graduates, who did not perform well in one or two of the core subjects, may want to improve on their grades in order to benefit from the Free SHS next academic year.
“Maybe most of them want to take advantage of the Free Senior High School (SHS) Programme that has been implemented. That is our guess,” she said.
For some of the candidates, the opportunity to enjoy the Free SHS and the use of the private BECE for preparation ahead of the public one were their reasons for registering to sit for the examination.
A tailor, Emmanuel Anderson told the Junior Graphic that he had registered to write the private BECE because he wanted to go back to school because of the Free SHS and also to get a certificate.
He said he completed junior high school three years ago but could not continue because he did not have any support from his mother, who is a fishmonger.
“I was offered tailoring free of charge but I think at 21, I can still go back to school, get a certificate and continue from there,” he added.
Nineteen-year-old Gifty Appreku, an apprentice seamstress said her motivation to register for the examination was to enjoy the Free SHS and then hopefully continue to the polytechnic.
“Hopefully when I pass, which I think I would, I would enjoy the Free SHS. I would like to go to the Ngleshie Amanfro SHS which is close to me. While in school, I would be able to save money for my polytechnic education because I would like to study fashion,” she said.
About 36,000 graduates, who took part in the BECE for School Candidates last year, were not placed in SHSs or technical institutes during the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) because they scored either grade eight or nine in Mathematics or English.
The BECE for Private Candidates is to enable candidates, who desire to improve on their grades in the exam as well as others who have never written the examination before and prefer to pursue formal education, to register to sit for the exam.
Under the requirements for registration, candidates who are improving on their grades would have to provide the index numbers they used for the previous BECE.
In the case of first time candidates, they would have to be 16 years and above, and would be required to provide their birth certificates during the registration exercise.
“It is illegal for school candidates to enter for this examination,” the WAEC PRO warned, and added that those who flouted the directive would have their results cancelled.
This year’s examination will be written from February 12-16