Buying 'pasco' for students has been the norm even in advanced countries – Ntim Fordjour

Deputy Education Minister, John Ntim Fordjour,
Deputy Minister of Education and Member of Parliament for Assin South John Ntim Fordjour have justified the procurement of West African Education Council(WAEC) past questions from Kingdom Books because they have the sole right to reproduce past questions with the examiner’s report in the country.

He said the state decided to procure past questions for the final year students to give a level ground for all the students due to the inability of some parents to afford the luxury of buying past questions for their wards.

Mr Fordjour said the practice of procuring past questions for students is quite the norm even in advanced countries and their examinations, like in the Standard Aptitude Test (SAT) and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) in the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

He said the 430 page booklet contains all the past questions and examiner’s report from WAEC, which has given the sole right to Kingdom Books in Ghana to reproduce the booklet in Ghana. This is the reason why government is dealing with them to procure the past questions and not any other entity else in the country.

Mr Fordjour pointed out that the past question booklet was procured at GHS 71.25 in 2019 but has been raised by 9.47%, making it GHS 78 so it is justified for government to procure the document for the best outcome of its students in the country. He said it is incorrect the figures that the minority are quoting as the price procured in 2019 at GHS 59 per unit is false due to a ‘typo error’ made on the document presented to parliament.

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He said these ‘typo errors’ are a commonplace in the House that is why a provision is made to correct errors on the floor of parliament and just yesterday he had corrected six pages on the document containing errors inadvertently made in printing it. He said it will be a mistake for the minority to hang on these mistakes to doubt the legitimacy of the procurement.

Mr Fordjour disclosed this in an interview with Berla Mundi on the New Day show on TV3, Wednesday, July 15.

He was speaking on the back of the procurement of past question booklets for final year Senior High students by the government through the Ghana Education Service(GES) in 2019. The minority have raised concerns about the inflated price on the booklet and also why the government is dealing with Kingdom Books for the past questions and no entity else in the country.

“As students have been prepared for three years, it’s best practice everywhere that when you are going to write SAT, when you are sitting for IB, when you are sitting for Cambridge, when you are sitting for GRE and any international exams for that matter, past questions and a comprehensive examiner’s report are made available at a fee to the user. In West Africa, five countries that make up WAEC, many countries are spending sufficiently to prepare their children to pass. This practice of compiling past questions and examiner’s reports to introduce to the children in their revision period on how they have to prepare for the exams that are ahead” he pointed out.

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He added “we have had situations where particularly people from underserved communities and underserved backgrounds are not able to afford. We have had parents who are spending as much as GHS 1000, GHS 2000 just to be able to compile certain materials to aid their wards. And this time, for equity and across the board, a booklet that is 430 pages so when people are calling for value for money, let us have it in mind that that the booklet is 430 pages of all past questions and examiner’s report and you will not get it for GHS 200 or GHS 500 anywhere on the market. And so if it was procured at GHS 71.25 in 2019 and two years on it has been reviewed at 9.47% to 78% that is the matter”.

Mr Fordjour also submitted that aside from the free past questions for the students, the government supplied four core textbooks to the final year Senior High School students, a feat he says no government has done before.

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“WAEC owns the copyright to all their questions, materials and examiner’s reports, if there is any publisher out there who without legal authority from WAEC is reproducing any WAEC material that publisher is doing so at the breach of the law. And this must be put in context, the only company that WAEC has given that legal authority to reproduce their past questions and examiner’s report is Kingdom Books. As and when other publishers are able to obtain the legal right to reproduce WAEC material, competitive tender must be engaged. But as we speak the only company which has the sole right to reproduce is Kingdom Books”, he clarified on the New Day show.

By Barima Kwabena Yeboah||Ghana



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