An Education Policy Research and Advocacy Organization, Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) has advised the Ministry of Education to desist from the annual procurement of past questions for WASSCE candidates nationwide.
Africa Education Watch, in a press statement dated July 15, recommended that the procurement of past questions should be done once in every three years. The statement explained that currently, regular textbooks in Senior High Schools are used for over three years before replacement.
“Students should leave the over 400-paged past question books, with their respective schools after examinations, just as is done with all textbooks. This will enable students from subsequent batches to use the books 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,” parts of the statement read.
Eduwatch’s recommendation comes after Education Minister, Dr Yaw Adutwum on Wednesday, disclosed to Parliament that his outfit has procured 446,954 past questions from Messrs Kingdom Books and Stationery at a unit price of ¢78.00 (457 pages, covering past questions and examiners report from 2015 to 2020) for Senior High School Students.
Dr Yaw Adutwum explained that funding for the procurement of the past questions, is drawn from the Free Senior High School Programme’s account.
Deputy Education Minister Rev John Ntim Fordjour also stated that the contract with Kingdom Books, for example, provides good value for money.
“WAEC needed to engage partners to assist in producing the booklet because their core mandate is not to go into publishing. Their core mandate is to oversee the quality of examinations and administer same.
“So, they engaged publishers and Kingdom Books was engaged by WAEC and granted the sole rights to be able to publish past questions and examiner’s report. WAEC owns the copyright to WAEC past questions, and examiners report and, therefore, any publisher who engages in the reproduction of any WAEC material, without the legal authority, does so in breach of the law,” he clarified.
Reacting to the issue, the Africa Education Watch has raised concerns over the contract awarded to Messrs Kingdom Books and Stationery.
“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.
“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, is due to a copyright mandate issued to Kingdom Books by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), raises more questions,” it stated.
According to Eduwatch, rather than being tied down to an unfavourable procurement method and supporting monopolistic arrangements, the government should obtain copyright permission from WAEC and engage its own publishers.
“The MoE must demonstrate its practical commitment to competitive procurement methods to assure the Ghanaian public of the premium it accords the core tenets of spending efficiency. This should be pursued through a paradigm shift from the regularized restricted tendering and single source methods of procurement at the Ministry to a more competitive approach,” it recommended.
Eduwatch, nonetheless, commended government for providing WASSCE candidates the needed past questions ahead of the final examination.