The Africa Education Watch has raised concerns over the government’s procurement of past questions for both the 2020 and 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) candidates through sole sourcing.
The Education think tank, in a statement on the procurement of the past questions at a cost of GHS34.8 million, added that it has no problem with the government’s decision to provide all resources required to adequately prepare students for examinations.
“We have no objection to the supply of past questions, answers and examiners’ reports to support students, so far as the teaching authorities recommend and find same useful inadequately preparing students ahead of their examinations. It is on this basis that we commend the government for providing the past questions,” it clarified.
It however raised concerns over the spending inefficiencies arising out of the decision by the Ministry of Education (MoE) to procure the past questions using sole-sourcing.
“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.”
It said the explanation by the Education Ministry that its decision to solely consider Kingdom Books and Stationery for the GHS34.8 million contract is due to a copyright mandate issued to Kingdom Books by WAEC, only “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 or prevents the MoE from [also] obtaining the copyright permission and engaging its publishers competitively rather than supporting the current monopolistic arrangement which ties Ghana down to an unfavourable procurement method?” the group queried.
Africa Education Watch further questioned the sustainability of supplying students with past questions on a disposable basis.
“At present, regular textbooks in Senior High Schools are used for over three years before replacement. What then is the justification for procuring over GHS 30 million worth of past questions on a disposable basis annually, when these past questions are scarcely used beyond six weeks in a year?”
The Education think tank recommended that the Education Ministry obtains copyright permission over subsequent past questions, answers, etc. “before commissioning publishers competitively to print same on their behalf.”
It also urged the ministry to demonstrate its “practical commitment to competitive procurement methods to assure the Ghanaian public of the premium it accords to the core tenets of spending efficiency.”
It again suggested that the procurement of past questions should happen once every three years, just as textbooks.
“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,” it added.
The government procured some past questions for final year SHS students who sat for the last examinations.
Those who criticised the move were of the view that the government was bent on ensuring a good pass mark for the first batch of Free Senior High School graduates just to score political points despite the challenges the policy is going through.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, has justified the procurement of West African Senior High School Examination, WASSCE, past questions at the cost of GHS 33.6 million.
According to him, the supply of the questions is an essential part of the government’s effort to enhance the preparation of students ahead of the WASSCE.
Dr Adutwum in an interview after answering questions on the floor of Parliament from Bulisa South MP, Dr Clement Apaak on the matter, justified the expenditure.
He said it was an important support to the students especially those in deprived communities.