Govt blows GH₵35 million on WASSCE past questions for candidates

The government of Ghana has secured past questions for candidates sitting for this year’s West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) at a cost of about GH₵ 35 million.

The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, confirmed this when he answered questions in Parliament on Wednesday, July 14. The purchase is the second one in two years for candidates for the annual examinations.

Some 446,958 past questions have so far been procured from Kingdom Books and Stationery for 2021 candidates at a unit cost of GH₵78. This purchase amounts to GH₵34,862,724.

The new unit cost represents a 32% increment on the GH₵59 a unit that was sold to the Ministry of Education last year. In 2020, the ministry purchased 568,755 units of past questions from the same firm.

Over two years, the cost of buying past questions has cost the government more than GH₵68 million.

Last year’s decision to buy the past questions was famously criticised by a former Minister of Education as well as the running mate to the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the 2020 election, Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang.

But she was not the only one. Other groups in civil society with an interest in education were also critical of the practice of buying past questions. But Education Minister Adutwum, who is an educationist, remains resolute in his decision.

“But for those of us who went to these ‘mushroom schools’, past questions was something we never saw. So this is an opportunity for our students to have access to Examiner’s Report, responses to previous questions so that they can study,” Adutwum told parliamentarians on Wednesday.

In a related development, the Executive Director of the African Foundation for Educational Development (AFfED), Ernest Kwame Adade, has described this year’s purchase of past questions as a misplaced priority.

“The ministry has abandoned the primary schools under trees, poor and deadly School infrastructure and inadequate Teaching and Learning Material but investing about GH¢35m of the taxpayers’ money into purchasing of past questions,” Adade said.

The AFfED boss also wondered why the ministry would spend about 4% of its entire annual budget on a sole-sourcing project that does not “[challenge] and [develop] the cognitive capacity of our students in the Senior High Schools”.

But a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education and Member of Parliament (MP) for Old Tafo, Vincent Ekow Assafuah, has defended the purchase of the past questions telling Joy News that “[Kingdom Books] is a Ghanaian company…and it is the only one with the copyright to the questions”.

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