The Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) comes at the end of formal basic education in Sierra Leone. It is administered by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). This report analyses the results obtained by candidates in 2023.
132, 684 candidates from 1,730 schools entered for the 2023 BECE. 5,619 candidates were absent for all subjects. This leaves a total of 127,065 candidates as sitting at least one subject/paper. The results of 1,889 candidates were from 8 late entry schools and are being with-held by WAEC. This leaves the results of 130,795 candidates (inclusive of those absent for all subjects) that were released to the MBSSE on 25 October 2023
At BECE, candidates take up to eight subjects, and the best score is 1 (Excellent) and the worst is 7 (Fail). Units/Grades 1 to 6 are various levels of passes. Thus, anyone scoring 6 or better will pass an individual BECE subject. The different grades are awarded based on the percentage of marks obtained on an individual exam.
Individual student performance is assessed using aggregate scores derived from the grades for a total of six subjects – the four (4) ‘core subjects’ plus the best ‘elective subject’ grade and the best ‘optional subject’ grade. The ‘average grade’ which is the sum of the grades obtained for all subjects attempted, divided by the number of subjects attempted, is also used to assess performance. The latter is a better measure of the quality of the performance of candidates. As an example of how average grades are computed – If a student sat 8 subjects and obtained four 1s, two 2s, one 3, and one 4 his/her average grade is computed.
It is important to underscore that the smaller the average grade/unit, the better the student performed. Students are aiming to get an average unit/grade score as close to 1.0 as possible.
Different senior schools have different entry requirements as a consequence of the fact that they have different numbers of places available in SS1 and differences in the number of candidates sitting for the school as well as the quality of their performance. Note that requirement for entry to one of the options in a senior secondary school is a minimum of 5 passes inclusive of Language Arts or Mathematics. The aggregate score and average grades are simply measures of the quality of the performance of the candidate.
Overall: In 2023 candidates obtained the best BECE results in recent memory.
Key highlights include:
The number of candidates sitting the 2023 BECE i.e. 127,065 are fewer than the 127,889 of 2022, as well as the 131,483 of 2021 and the 133,203 of 2020. These 127,065 candidates include those whose results are with-held by WAEC. Out of the 130,795 candidates whose results have been released to the MBSSE, a total of 5,584 were absent, leaving 125,211 candidates to have sat at least one subject. (Note that fewer candidates have been sitting BECE since 2020 largely due to fewer candidates failing and having to repeat the exam)
For the third year in a row, there are more female than male students sitting BECE. From the results released to the MBSSE, this year, 5.6% more females than males sat the BECE
The pass rate for individual papers has climbed from 76.8% in 2021 to 84.4% in 2022 and finally to 92.7% in 2023. This is the highest ever by a long way.
The number of candidates obtaining a minimum of 5 passes inclusive of Language Arts or Mathematics has increased by 85.5% in the period 2018-23. In 2023, 119,801 candidates obtained a minimum of 5 passes inclusive of Language Arts or Mathematics, which is the highest ever. This gives a BECE pass rate for the general SSS programme of 96%. This is higher than the BECE2022 pass rate of 88% and is the biggest general SSS programme pass rate ever.
Our goal has always been to get all children successfully completing basic education and moving on to senior secondary school. We are happy to note that we’re moving closer to achieving that goal.
The top candidate, Amida Sarlahmata Tejan, from Modern High School, sat and passed all 8 of her subjects with an aggregate score of 6, an average grade of 1.13, i.e. the candidate obtained a 1 in all her 7 subjects and a 2 in 1 subject. She was closely followed by another candidate with an aggregate score of 6, and an average score of 1.38 due to 1 in 6 subjects, a 2 in 1 subject and a 3 in another subject.
The top two candidates were girls, and the top 6 candidates with aggregate scores 6 or 7 were an equal number of boys and girls i.e. 3 girls and 3 boys
The top school, Cluny Free the Children JSS, Koidu, saw 100% of its candidates obtain a minimum of 5 passes inclusive of Language Arts or Mathematics, with an average grade of 1.66. A total of 870 schools saw all of their candidates passing for senior secondary school general programme and a further 505 schools had 95.00% or more of their candidates also passing for senior secondary school. These numbers are much better/larger than in 2022, when a total of 322 schools saw all of their candidates passing for senior secondary school general programme and a further 395 schools had 95.00% or more of their candidates also passing for senior secondary school. Many Government and Government Assisted Schools performed extremely well, achieving 100% success rate.
There remains some variation in performance across subjects but just as in 2022, no subject had pass rates below 70%.
There remains a large variation in performance across districts, including in terms of average grade/unit and pass rate for senior secondary school – general. Notwithstanding, all districts performed better than in 2022 and all had SSS pass rates in excess of 90.00%. The best district had an SSS pass rate of 98.91% and an average grade of 3.41. Candidates from Guinea did not perform as well as candidates from Sierra Leone but still performed better than in 2022. They had a combined SSS pass rate of 77.61% and an average grade of 4.71.