At a press briefing on Thursday, August 26, 2021, ten days after the commencement of WASSCE 2021, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, (GES) sought to defend the use of GH₵34.8 million to purchase largely, the same set of past questions given to WASSCE candidates in last year’s (2020) examinations for the 2021 candidates by saying that “we don’t go to school to fail”.
To an extent, the Director General was right in his assertion that all students go to school to pass their exams. It is good to pass exams, however, going to school cannot just be to pass exams, but it should also be about the acquisition of knowledge. Of what value is schooling, if the schooled has no knowledge: facts, information and skills acquired through education?
Any educationist will agree with the Director General that the three things that guarantee the success of students in exams are; Curriculum, Instructions and Assessment. What he failed to acknowledge is the fact that the most important among the three, is ‘Instruction’.
One can have a good curriculum but if instruction is not adequate and of quality, no genuine assessment will yield good results. When instruction is not effective, learning will not be effective, and students will try foul means, such as copying and sending foreign materials into the exam rooms to secure success at the exams.
Truth is that since the introduction of the Free Senior High School policy government has failed to provide a conducive atmosphere for effective teaching and learning in our Secondary Schools – with erratic academic calendar, obnoxious double track system that make students stay many months at home, inadequate and irregular release of funds, inadequate food to feed students, overloading of teachers with work among others.
It is for the above reasons that many believe, government started the policy of buying and supplying past examination questions and examiners’ reports to students to “assist them prepare for WASSCE or try their hands on before writing WASSCE ” as officials claim. This policy, for which GH₵68,513,455.75 has been expended so far, started with the 2020 WASSCE candidates, the very first batch of Free Senior High School students.
Like it or not it is now government policy to purchase and supply past exam questions and examiners’ reports to students to help them prepare for WASSCE. But, even if opposed to the policy, we are still obligated to ensure that there is value for money in the utilisation of GH₵34,862,412 to buy past questions and examiners’ reports intended to help students pass WASSCE 2021.
It is in light of the above that well-meaning Ghanaians expected and still expect the Director General to have addressed the following questions:
1) Why purchase another set of questions and examiners’ reports this year, at GH₵78 per set (446,958 sets at GH₵34.8 million), when those purchased last year, at a cost of GH₵59 per set (568,755 sets at GH₵33.6 million) are with the schools?
2) Why were/are the questions and examiners’ reports being given to students after they have started (August 16th 2021) 2021 final WASSCE exams, if the intent is for students to use them to prepare for WASSCE and or try their hands on before writing WASSCE?
3) Why have some schools still not been supplied with the questions 14 days (16th August 2021) after the start of WASSCE if the purpose for spending GH₵34.8 million on the purchase of 446,958 sets of past questions and examiners’ reports was to help students prepare for WASSCE 2021?
4) Why have some schools been given soft copies of the past questions and examiners’ reports to print out themselves when according to the Minister for Education on the floor of Parliament, this materials were bounded into book form at a set price of GH₵78? Where are these schools expected to get the money to use in printing the questions and examiners’ reports; and
5) Why were Headmasters/Headmistresses summoned to meetings with GES Officials and the Minister of Education just a few days to the commencement of the 2021 WASSCE and forced to sign so called “Performance Contracts”?
Ghanaians still expect these legitimate questions to be answered by the Director General.
Dr. Clement Apaak
Member of Parliament for Builsa South and Deputy Ranking Member On Education Committee of Parliament