The Leadership of Africa Education Watch (EduWatch), an Education Policy Research and Advocacy Organisation have expressed concerns about the procurement of GHc34.8Million worth of past questions for Senior High School Students across the country.
According to EduWatch, contracting a company without a track record in Ghana’s publishing industry to publish and supply about 450,000 copies of past questions raises more questions.
In a release sighted by Thnknewsonline.com, it said “There are concerns with Spending Efficiency arising out of the decision by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to subject the procurement of GHC 34.8 million worth of past questions to a single-source procurement method. Selecting repeatedly for two years, a company without a track record in Ghana’s publishing industry to publish and supply about 450,000 copies of past questions raises more questions”
Touching on whether past questions are necessary, EduWatch hinted that it supports the decision to provide all resources required to adequately prepare students for examinations.
It also mentioned that it has no objection to the supply of past questions, answers, and examiner reports to support students so far as the teaching authorities recommend and find the same useful inadequately preparing students ahead of their examinations.
“It is on this basis that we commend the government for providing the past questions” EduWatch mentioned.
Throwing light on spending inefficiency and financial waste in Ghana’s Education Sector; EduWatch said “The challenges in Ghana’s education sector scarcely includes bad policies. Indeed, there are mainly two – Inefficient Spending and Poor Management. Amid these two systemic deficits, no matter the objectives, strategies, and resourcing of policies and programs, there are bound to be poor, inequitable, or unsustainable outcomes”
It explained that the 20% dropout rate at the basic level, lack of adequate teachers in deprived schools, poor teacher supervision, the existence of 5,000 schools under trees, lack of desks, exercise books, school uniforms, textbooks, etc. at the basic school level are all symptoms of Mismanagement and Spending Inefficiencies, considering that Ghana ranks very high among the countries committing most resources into education.
On spending inefficiency in Africa’s Education Sector; it said “The African Development Bank in its Africa Economic Outlook 2020 report indicated that, even though Africa ranks 2nd globally in terms of its 5% GDP allocation to education, the continent ranks last in spending efficiency”
“It went ahead to predict that if Africa’s spending efficiency increases from an average 50% to the level of Latin America (Average 75%), primary school completion rate would increase from 79% to 98%,” it said.
Addressing the copyrights issues of the materials, EduWatch noted that the explanation by the Ministry of Education (MoE) that its decision to use Kingdom Books and Stationery as single-source procurement beneficiary for the GHC 34.8 million contract was due to a copyright mandate issued to Kingdom Books by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) raises more questions.
While the WAEC Act of 2006 (Act 719) does not confer the copyright over WAEC’s past questions to WAEC, after being paid by MoE to conduct an assessment of Ghanaian students, it shall be useful to share any such subsidiary contract conferring such copyrights to WAEC for public review.
“Regardless, what prevented/prevents the MoE from [also] obtaining the copyright permission and engaging its own publishers competitively rather than supporting the current monopolistic arrangement which ties Ghana down to an unfavorable procurement method?” it further revealed.
Touching on sustainability, EduWatch said “At present, regular textbooks in Senior High Schools are used for over three years before replacement. What then is the justification for procuring over GHC 30 million worth of past questions on a disposable basis annually, when these past questions are scarcely used beyond six weeks in a year?”
It, however, recommended that the procurement of past questions should happen once in every three years, just as textbooks adding that students should deposit the over 400 paged past question books with their respective schools after examinations, just as is done for all textbooks, to enable the subsequent batches to use for two more years.
“With wifi available in Senior High Schools, GES must support school heads to take the responsibility of sharing soft/hard copy updates of subsequent years’ questions with teachers to facilitate their engagement with students. Conclusion The two major systemic issues in the education sector are spending and management inefficiency. All others are symptoms. The MoE and agencies must demonstrate beyond the rhetoric that, making competitive procurement culture is a genuine government policy without which education SDGs cannot be attained by 2030” it concluded.
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith