‘Pasco’ Contract For Free SHS Students Bloated -  Clement Apaak 

Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum and Dr. Clement Apaak Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum and Dr. Clement Apaak

It has emerged that, the GH₵ 34.8million profligate sole sourced contract entered into by the Akufo-Addo government through the Ministry of Education to buy past questions and answers for final year Senior High School (SHS) students to prepare them write their West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), has been overblown by 32 per cent.

This, follows revelations that only last year 2020, government procured the past questions and answers from the supplier, Messers Kingdom Books and Stationery at a unit price of GH₵59. However, a year later, the cost of same items has been strangely increased to GH₵78 per unit, amounting to a whopping 32 per cent rise from the same supplier.

Interestingly, the price of textbooks used by SHS students, have not been increased over the period by the same supplier, Messers Kingdom Books and Stationery.

Deputy Ranking Member on Education Committee and Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South, Dr Clement A. Apaak, who blew the cover on the matter and taking it up, in a statement sighted by The Herald said, the development begs for answers.

He said, "Why Government will spend GH₵68,513,455.75 [GH₵68.5million] to buy 1,035,733 exam questions through sole source from same company two years in a row, and agree to pay for same exam questions at GH₵78 per unit, when it paid GH₵59 per unit only a year ago, a whopping 32% increase, begs the question."

He mentioned that, "Interestingly the price of textbooks used by Senior High School students have not increased over the period", adding, "So how can past cost of past exam questions increased by 32% from the same supplier. I will share the content follow up questions and follow ups by colleagues at a later date".

Many believe, but for the Bulsa South MP's curiosity through two questions he posed to the Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, details about the contract, as well as the outrageous amount blown for the procurement would have been swept under the carpet on the blind side of Ghanaians.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) (MP in his questions to the Minister, Dr Adutwum, asked how much it cost the state to procure 568,755 past examination questions for SHS students who wrote the WASSCE in 2020 and the source of funding for the procurement.

Dr Apaak, also sought to know if the government would procure and distribute past examination questions to final year students preparing to write the 2021 WASSCE, and how this would be funded.

However, in his response Dr Adutwum told Parliament, "The procurement of these questions was funded through the Free Senior High School account and the results of the 2020 WASSCE was tremendous compared to previous years' WASSCE performance.

He added that, the procurement of the 2021 materials at the cost of GH₵ 34.8million, would also be funded from the same Free Senior High School account.

"For students in deprived schools, giving them access to previous examinations' questions and answers and examiners reports is good intervention," he said.

On its part, the Africa Education Watch, an education policy research and advocacy organization working with Civil Society, governments, and the private sector has commended the government for providing past questions to students.

The organization said they support the decision to provide all resources required to adequately prepare students for examinations.

The organizations statement comes after the Education Minister's confirmation that government has purchased past questions for candidates preparing for this year's WASSCE.

Responding to a question on the floor of Parliament on Wednesday, July 14, Dr Osei Adutwum, said the past questions were procured from Kingdom Books and Office Stationery at a total cost of almost GHS35 million.

That move generated controversy with a former Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, who was also a Vice Presidential Candidate in the 2020 elections, criticising it as backward.

"Achieving good results from our students cannot be achieved by buying past questions," she said during one of her tours ahead of last year's polls, which her party lost.

"We can only do that by grooming the children well, by supporting the teachers, by putting methods in place for strict supervision and accountability."

A statement issued by its Executive Director Kofi Asare yesterday July 15, Africa Education Wtach, said "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 in adequately preparing students ahead of their examinations. It is on this basis that we commend government for providing the past questions."

Regarding the procurement deal and spending efficiency, the organization 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."

Source: www.theheraldghana.com