The 2013 May/June West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) will begin on Tuesday, April 9 with 409,754 candidates from 724 public and private senior high schools (SHSs) writing it across the country.
In all, 220,866 males and 188,881 females will write the examination which will be written simultaneously in four other English-speaking West African countries – Nigeria, Liberia, Gambia and Sierra Leone.
This year's examination will involve the highest number of candidates from the two batches of final-year SHS students, with (the last batch of four-year SHS students under the 2007 educational reform policy writing the examination with the first batch of three-year SHS students following the reversal of the duration of SHS education from four to three years in 2010.
Candidates region by region
The Ashanti Region is presenting the highest number of candidates - 102,906 - made up of 54,561 males and 48,345 females, followed by the Eastern Region, which is presenting 64,201 candidates, comprising 31,975 males and 32,226 females.
Greater Accra has 44,731 candidates, made up of 23,596 males and 21,135 females, while Central has 43,655 candidates, comprising 23,047 males and 20,608 females.
Volta is presenting 35,856 candidates, of which 19,994 are males and 15,862 females.
The rest are: Brong Ahafo, 35,692 candidates (19,503 males and 16,189 females); Northern, 3 1,645 - (19,872 males and 11,773 females); Western, 29,692 (15,848 males and 13,844 females); Upper East, 12,691 (7,287 males and 5,404 females) and Upper West, 8,678 (5,183 males and 3,495 females).
The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has declared its readiness to host the more than 400,000 candidates.
"We are set and ready for the examination... We started preparations two years ago with the setting up of a task force for the 2013 WASSCE because of the large number of students involved," the Head of Public Relations of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Teye-Cudjoe, told the Daily Graphic.
She said all the necessary security measures had been put in place, right from the printing of the question papers to their transportation and storage.
"Our ears are on the ground and we hope the media will also help us," she said.
Mrs Teye-Cudjoe said in spite of the fact that "dos and don'ts" of the examination had been spelt out to the candidates, invigilators and supervisors, "more sensitisation is ongoing in the schools".
For its part, the GES said everything was on course for the commencement of the examination next week.
It said with SHS One and Two students on vacation, enough space and teachers had been made available for a conducive atmosphere for the examination.
"Everything is on course. We don't have any problem with invigilation or supervision, as the teachers are back in the classrooms," the Head of Public Relations of the GF.S, Mr Charles Parker-Allotey, told the Daily Graphic.
Heads of SHSs have said they are also prepared to ensure a smooth conduct of the examination, having put in place the necessary arrangements.
The President of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Senior High Schools (CHASS), Mr Samuel Ofori-Adjci, told the Daily Graphic that all is set for the examination.
However, he said the challenge was with the purchase of chemicals for Chemistry practicals which would be done on April 18, 2013.
Subsidies for the second term especially, he said, were yet to be paid, although there was a component in it for practicals, adding that the challenge was how to raise money to purchase the chemicals. Mr Ofori-Adjei said another challenge had to do with the utilities which were also factored into the subsidies.
According to him, the Electricity Company of Ghana, for instance, had threatened to disconnect some schools if they did not pay their bills. Some of the schools, he said, had even been cut off, adding that but for those challenges; everything was on course for the examination.
The Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyeman, has sent best wishes to candidates taking part in the WASSCE.
A statement signed by the minister and issued in Accra said she was convinced that the candidates had been well tutored by their teachers and had diligently applied themselves to their instructions.
Minister commends heads
The minister, in a separate statement, also expressed the appreciation of the ministry to all heads and tutors of SHSs for the special arrangements they had put in place towards the conduct of the WASSCE.
Prof Opoku-Agyeman commended the heads and tutors for their enthusiasm, drive, hard work, dedication and "can do spirit" as they continued to prepare the next generation for beneficial and responsible living.
The examination begins with Oral English next Tuesday and ends with subjects including Technical Drawing and Arabic on May 17, 2013.
The practical aspects of the examination have been ongoing since last month.