The Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), an education policy research and advocacy organization, described the practice of governments spending limited resources in their countries without ensuring efficiency as the major problem affecting the education sector. education – citing the recent GH ¢ 34.6 million spent by the Ministry of Education on past issues (Pasco) as a case in point.
According to its executive director, Kofi Asare, inefficient spending in the system affects the very heart of the education sector – upon enrollment, retention, completion, quality outcomes and procurement, among others. ; and in the midst of limited resources, what little the country has is not spent effectively.
“If you go to the Ministry of Education, pretty much everything that is purchased is done through a single source process; thus, the state does not get any efficiency in spending, knowing that value for money is different from efficiency in spending. Spending efficiency means that the cost of purchasing an item could have been much cheaper if other ways of spending the money had been taken, so the cost of the result obtained could have been much lower. “, did he declare.
To support his point, he pointed to a report by the African Development Bank in its 2020 Economic Outlook for Africa, which showed that the African continent contributes second in terms of GDP for education, the European Union ( UE) being the first. ; however, when it comes to spending efficiency, the continent is last and 20 percentage points behind the penultimate, which is Latin America.
He added that the report recommends that if Africa can improve its level of efficiency to that of Latin America, it will be able to increase the percentage of children completing primary school to around 95 percent.
Diving into the statement by Education Minister Dr Yaw Adutwum to Parliament that the government spent GH ¢ 33.6 million to buy Pasco for Africa High School Certificate Exam students from West (WASSCE) 2020/2021, Mr. Asare indicated that AEW’s main challenge with Pasco’s procurement is inefficient spending.
He clarified that the procedure used to purchase the books – which is single source at MM. Kingdom Books and Stationery at a unit price of GH ¢ 78 per unit when it could be done at a lower price through competitive bidding – is of great concern.
Further, he questioned the selection decision and disagreed with the Minister for saying it was because of the company’s track record, pointing out that MM. Kingdom Books was not a publishing house.
“What makes it worse is that Kingdom Books is not a publisher, they don’t have any experience in the publishing industry – they’re just a bookstore. So the biggest publisher or the two biggest publishers in this country should have received the contract, ”he said.
On the issue of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) which does not bind and sell books, he indicated that the WAEC is funded by the government and therefore the ministry would had to write to WAEC to obtain a copyright license in order to access the grading system and make it available. to the two largest publishing houses in the country to produce it for the ministry, instead of going through a third party.
Citing a scenario in which the government builds a six-unit classroom block for $ 50,000 while NGOs do the same for half that amount, he added that this Pasco problem is only a symptom of the challenges of the country. education sector supply system – which controls most of the budget.
There are 4,500 primary schools in the country with no high schools, and so when you go to underprivileged communities you finish primary six and have to travel a long distance to attend JHS at another school, and that’s the biggest drop. . on the rate in our education system from basic to basic-six level.
He stressed, however, that the practice of providing answers to past questions to students is a step in the right direction and should be continued, but the procurement process should be conducted competently.