Deputy Education Minister Rev John Ntim Fordjour says the concept of making preparatory materials available to students as part of their preparations for major examinations is international best practice.

He said students pay for past questions and examiners report worldwide, which could be as expensive as $2,000.

According to him, government’s decision to invest in such preparatory materials for students preparing for the West Africa Senior School Certificate Exams (WASSCE) cannot thus be described as a misplaced priority.

“The concept of preparing students for exams is not novel. It is best practice. Many countries, institutions and international exam bodies like Cambridge, IB, SAT, LSAT, IELT, etc., make provision for past questions and examiners report to be made available to students at a fee, far more expensive than the unit cost of this transaction.

“You have to pay and access it. You don’t just study and go to sit exams. WAEC examination is not an exception,” he told Aisha Ibrahim on PM Express.

Rev Ntim Fordjour, on Wednesday, July 14, explained that the idea of making these preparatory materials available to students is part of reforms being undertaken by WAEC to improve the quality of education.

“Key interventions deployed to ensure improved learning outcomes include the payment of interventions money, supply of all core textbooks to students and elective textbooks for access in school libraries, providing past questions and examiners report among others.

It accounted for the sterling WASSCE 2020 performance, which recorded over 50% A1 to C6 score in all core subjects. Moreover, 411 out of 465 students who obtained A1 in all subjects are Ghanaian students,” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Minister Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum was on the floor of Parliament to respond to questions on the issue.

Deputy Ranking Member on Parliament’s Education Committee, Dr Clement Apaak, asked if government will procure and distribute past examination questions to final year students preparing to write the WASSCE this year and how this will be funded.

Dr Adutwum revealed that the Ministry has procured 446,954 past questions from Messrs Kingdom Books and Stationery at a unit price of ¢78.00 for the students.

He explained that the procurement is funded from the Free Senior High School Programme’s account.

Dr Apaak, in response, said the investments were out of place and amounts to wastage by government.

But Rev Ntim Fordjour disagrees.

He insists 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 the 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.

“Till date, Kingdom Books reserves the sole right for the reproduction of such WAEC materials. When more publishers are able to secure similar rights from the appropriate outfit (WAEC), competitive tendering may be occasioned in the future,” the Deputy Minister added.

Rev Ntim Fordjour stated that the agreement was approved by the Public Procurement Authority (PPA).

“The fact that procurement was engaged under sole sourcing does not mean value for money considerations were disregarded. On the contrary, value for money considerations was duly factored in. It is a 457-page booklet. It is not just a piece of a pamphlet,” he explained.

Rev Ntim Fordjour disclosed this is not the first time preparatory materials are being provided to students.

He said claims that the unit price in 2020 was ¢59 is incorrect.

“It’s prudent to view the total sum expended in this year’s and previous year’s procurement within the context of the total number of final year students across the country,” he explained.

In 2019, the Ministry of Education procured 361,755 booklets of WAEC past questions and examiners report at a unit cost of ¢71.25 per booklet, but in 2021, the Ministry procured 446,954 booklets at the unit cost of ¢78 per booklet (457 pages, covering past questions and examiners report from 2015 to 2020).