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Monday, March 18th, 2013

Ghana’s “Double-Cohort”

Having several decades of experience with the Ghanaian high school system, and a member of the CUAC’s global squad of counsellors – recruiting internationally-bound high school graduates this year is considerably unpleasant.

Essentially, 2013 marks a year in which students are graduating out of both four year and three year streams simultaneously. Hence,  we are assessing two groups of students based on their performance transcripts at Senior High School but having spent a different duration pursuing – ostensibly – the same syllabus. Ostensibly, because we are not even sure if the course content is in fact truly the same since the subjects have been taught over different time periods and without the oversight needed to maintain consistency.

Further, the final West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination which would be taken by both groups has posed logistical challenges. Where conditions are less than appropriate, and students are stressed or uncomfortable for lack of space or adequate materials, how would that translate into their exam performance?

Finally, financial planning for some families has been undermined because siblings who are not twins are graduating the same year or too close together. For those from families of modest finances, it means staying in Ghana. Some students staying at home may have to wait an extra year to enter university, as funding may not be available for both children at the outset. For those families seeking overseas institutions, some will be in a quandary if funding for both siblings from the start is financially daunting, and these families may need to have one of them begin post-secondary studies in Ghana.

This much is certain, and is vital to know from an admissions/assessment perspective: the four year students taken as a whole have a better understanding of their courses which should translate into better examination results.

Ms. Gifty E. Annan Myers is Manager of the Canadian University Application Centre (CUAC) in Accra, Ghana.

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