Computer School Placement Fraud: 7 ways Blockchain Can Maximize School Placement Data in Ghana

Ghana’s Computer School Placement System is a centralized system used to place students in senior high schools in Ghana. In 2005, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, and the Ghana Education Service aimed to improve the student placement process by introducing the Computerized Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS), replacing the previous manual method that had caused stress and frustration for parents, schools, and students for many years.

The placement is based on the student’s performance in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) at the end of Junior High School. Students are placed into senior high schools based on their scores and choices of schools and programs. The placement system aims to ensure that students are placed into schools that match their abilities and interests, promoting equal access to quality education.

The Computerized Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) is plagued with cyclical problems that plague students every year, common among them include: 

Technical difficulties: The CSSPS is a computer-based system, and technical glitches and malfunctions cause disruptions and delays in the placement process; Delays in results: There have been instances where the release of placement results has been delayed, causing stress and uncertainty for students and their families; Accessibility issues: Students and families have reported difficulties accessing the system, which prevent them from seeing their placement results or making changes to their school preferences; Fairness and transparency concerns: People have expressed concerns about fairness and transparency in the placement process, questioning whether students are placed into schools based on merit or other factors; Misaligned placement: There have been instances where students are placed into schools that do not match their abilities or preferences, which can negatively impact their academic and personal development.

Every minister of education has emphasized the importance of continuous improvement and oversight to ensure that the CSSPS operates effectively and efficiently, providing equal access to quality education for all students in Ghana. Yet, the cyclical nature of the problem crops up almost every time.

Recently, an investigation by the Fourth Estate uncovered fraudulent activities plaguing a computerized placement system in Ghana. The investigation brought to light a network of individuals quoting exorbitant fees for parents to pay in order to have their wards placed in preferred schools. The Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum confirmed that the only possible explanation for making this phenomenon occur is the exploitation of the quota system in place for old students of schools, chiefs, clergy, staff of the ministry and schools who for some reason must be in particular schools and individuals who have contributed to the development of education in Ghana. 

The CSSPS is centralized and makes room for internal manipulation of a concluded database with or without approval. However, the use of blockchain for CSSPS would be able to provide a secured blockchain. 

Blockchain is a decentralized ledger technology that provides a secured and immutable database. The blockchain can curb the fraudulent menace whether private or public. A public blockchain is permissionless, open, and decentralized and provides everyone with internet to access the data, in this case, school placement data whereas a private blockchain operates in a private context that is controlled by a single identity [Ministry of Education]. Permission is required for access.

Whether private or public blockchain, we are certain of secure, open and transparent, scalable, trust, and speed. However, should the Ministry of Education in Ghana decide to use a private blockchain, people would be skeptical of trust, openness, and transparency since it allows the blockchain to be controlled by a single entity. 

The type of blockchain is important in outlining ways blockchain technology can maximize school placement data in Ghana. Educational authorities can increase public trust and confidence with a public blockchain. Here are the 7 ways to maximize school placement in Ghana;

  1. Decentralization: Blockchain technology provides a decentralized platform for storing and accessing data, which can improve the transparency and fairness of the school placement process.
  • Immutable records: Blockchain creates an immutable record of transactions, ensuring that placement data is tamper-proof and cannot be altered without detection.
  • Improved security: Blockchain offers enhanced security compared to traditional computer systems, reducing the risk of hacking or data breaches.
  • Real-time data: With blockchain, school placement data can be updated and accessed in real time, reducing delays and improving the accuracy of placement results.
  • Automation: Blockchain can automate certain aspects of the placement process, such as verifying student scores and allocating students to schools [with regards to various school categories], improving efficiency, and reducing the risk of human error, and fraud.
  • Traceability: Blockchain provides a clear, traceable record of all actions and decisions made during the placement process, allowing for better accountability and oversight.
  • Interoperability: Blockchain can facilitate data sharing between different stakeholders, including schools, students, and government agencies, improving the flow of information and the coordination of the placement process.

A potential use case involving Cardano blockchain in the school placement process is the creation of a decentralized platform for storing and accessing student records and placement data. This could include information such as BECE Score, Index Number, student preferences, school categories, and school capacity, among others.

By using blockchain, the data can be stored in a secure and transparent manner, reducing the risk of data breaches or manipulation. The decentralized nature of blockchain can also improve the fairness and accuracy of the placement process, as all stakeholders, including students, schools, and government agencies, can access the data and make informed decisions.

Moreover, the immutable nature of blockchain records ensures that the data is tamper-proof and can be audited at any time, providing greater transparency and accountability in the placement process. In addition, smart contracts can be used to automate certain aspects of the placement process, such as verifying students’ BECE scores, allocating students to schools based on preferences, and determining school capacity. 

Some countries are already applying blockchain innovatively in their educational sector. In 2018, the South Korean government agreed to invest approximately $9 million in the development of blockchain technology. The focus of this investment is on conducting six pilot projects in areas such as cattle supply chain management, online voting, cross-border e-document distribution, customs clearing, shipping logistics, and real estate transactions. The Ministry of Science and ICT is working with various government entities to implement these pilots with the aim of improving openness and efficiency in the exchange of information across public services through a decentralized network.

In an effort to address the issue of fake certificates in Vietnam, the country’s Ministry of Education and Training has announced plans to use blockchain technology for diploma issuance starting in 2021. The Ministry has entered into a partnership with SotaTek & TomoChain to store student records on a blockchain, which will provide a secure and accessible solution to this problem. The use of blockchain is intended to improve the reliability of the national education system by bringing all educational records together in a single location that is safe, secure, and easily accessible.

By utilizing blockchain technology, the school placement process in Ghana would become more efficient, secure, and transparent, providing equal access to quality education for all students.

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