Is the purchase of past questions a greedy desire to line people’s pockets? Alovi writes
KWAMI ALORVI ASKS: SUPPLY OF PAST EXAMINATION QUESTIONS TO SHS3 STUDENTS, A GENUINE DESIRE TO PROMOTE STUDENTS’ ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE OR A GREEDY DESIRE TO LINE UP PEOPLE’S POCKETS?
Responding to a question filed in Ghana’s Parliament on 14th July 2021 by Hon. Clement Apaak, Member of Parliament for Builsa South, the Minister for Education Hon. Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, informed Ghanaians that he intended to supply 446,958 past WASSCE questions, costing *Ghc34,862,412* to the 2021 WASSCE candidates. This is at a unit cost of Ghc78.00. This policy is a continuation of the misguided and ill conceived Matthew Opoku Prempeh’s legacy bequeathed to the free SHS, where in the 2020 academic year, a total of 568,755 questions, costing the nation *Ghc33,664,043* were supplied to students at a unit cost of Ghc59.00. The increase in the unit price from Ghc59.00 to Ghc78.00 within one year amounts to a 32.2% increase in price using the same sole sourced supplier, Kingdom Books. Thus in two years, the Opoku Prempeh – Osei Adutwum Ministry of Education has wasted a total of *Ghc68,526,455* on past examination questions at the neglect of the welfare of teachers, on whom the success or otherwise of the fSHS hinges.
*JUSTIFICATION FOR PROCUREMENT OF THE QUESTIONS?*
The Ministers of Education, Ghana Education Service Officials, Government functionaries, party communicators, and even the President of the Republic, have all sought to justify the reckless procurement of the past questions by hoodwinking Ghanaians into believing that the malpractice ridden 2020 WASSCE results were the outcome of the sole sourced procurement of past questions for candidates. To those hypocritical analysts and communicators, teachers who suffered under very draconian conditions to teach these students for three years, contributed nothing to the so called good results of the 2020 WASSCE. No doubt, *teachers, including those that shouted #4MORE4NANA on roof tops in 2020, were handsomely rewarded with a 4% salary increase in 2021* as against the reported *79%* and *57%* increases for the President and his Ministers respectively. The Hallelujah-chorus teachers have since kept silent on the 4% salary increase. They are mute while their salary arrears, transfer grants, upgrading to ranks promoted to, responsibility allowances among others, have largely remained unaddressed.
To the Minister and government officials, the massive leakages of exam papers in 2020, the cheating by students in the examination halls, connivance of some school Heads and supervisors, the working out of answers and dictating same to students in the exam rooms in many of the schools by some invigilators etc., were no determinants of the outcome of the results. Compromised invigilators like Mr. Evans Yeboah, Mathematics Teacher of Kade Senior High Technical School in the Eastern Region, who was caught by the GES Director General dictating answers to students in the exam room, are still walking free and doing their work as teachers in the GES. And where is Evans Yeboah’s Headmaster, who allegedly attempted influencing the Director General with a Ghc10,000.00 envelope with the apparent intent to cover up the examination scandal in his school and his dereliction of duty as a Headmaster? Thank God the Director General, we learnt, directed him to handover his position after discovering the amount in the brown envelope upon his arrival at the GES Headquarters. But is his handing over to a new Head punitive enough?
At this juncture, one may want to know the true intent behind the procurement of these past questions. Is it for the academic benefit of candidates or to line up the pockets of the Ministers of Education? I believe the latter is the real reason and rightly so.
My checks in forty nine schools across the sixteen regions of Ghana revealed that, *the past questions secured for the 2020 candidates are still in the schools* in their libraries, bookshops or stores. The schools, under a directive from the Ministry and GES, collected the question booklets from the students just as it has been with the Core Textbooks supplied to them. If the questions are in the schools, how then can the Minister justify the procurement of the same questions for students this year?
I have heard the argument justifying the 32.2% rise in the unit cost from Ghc59.00 to Ghc78.00 that, two years’ past questions were added to those procured for the 2020 academic year. But the question arises as to why *the Minister could not procure only the questions that were not part of those procured last year?* That would have saved the tax payer huge sums of money.
Another fact rubbishing the claim that the procurement of the past questions were aimed at enhancing the performance of students in the exams is the late hour at which the questions are to be supplied to students. Per the 2021 WASSCE time table issued by WAEC, exams are scheduled to commence on 16th August 2021 for the practical papers, and 1st September 2021 for the theory or written papers. The entire exams are scheduled to end on 8th October 2021. As at today Monday 26th July 2021 when this report is being compiled, and less than three weeks to the commencement of the Exams, no school in Ghana has been supplied with the questions yet. And I can say with certainty that the questions have not been procured from Kingdom Books yet, and they may not be ready for distribution to *all schools* before the exams commence on 16th August 2021.
Assuming even that we manage to get the questions to the schools in August, at what time do the Minister and the Director General of the GES expect the students to take delivery of these questions, go through the over 530 page document as we were told, digest and assimilate the content alongside their notes before the exams?
The late procurement of the past questions, coupled with the fact that the 2020 procured questions are still in the custody of all schools, are manifestations of a predetermined, insatiable burning desire, just as in 2020, to loot and line people’s pockets rather than aid students in their examinations. Simply put, the country is being shortchanged by the Minister and his Government for parochial interest. The sole sourced procurement must thus be halted to save Ghana from this waste and thievery.
That money could be applied to solve some of the infrastructural challenges in our schools, pay capitation grants which have been in arrears for almost two years now to Headteachers to enable them effectively manage the schools, support teachers by upgrading the 4% salary increase offered them, or pay the responsibility allowances denied many of them.
*#Teachers’ working conditions matter*
*DATED:* MONDAY 26TH JULY 2021.
*Coming Soon:* Kwami Alorvi Asks: The Ghanaian Teacher, An Endangered Specie in The Labour Market?