General News of 2014-08-26

Uncovered: Government textbooks for sale!

Myjoyonline.com has uncovered a syndicate selling government textbooks meant to be given to students for free at a time when Senior Secondary School students have not received government textbooks since 2007.
Over 5,000 copies of textbooks belonging to the Ghana Education Service found their way into an uncompleted building at Opetekwei around Dansoman Last Stop in Accra.
Myjoyonline journalist, Edwin Appiah, who investigated the activities of the syndicate, discovered that the "Not of Sale" insignia on the books are first defaced or painted to conceal the identity of the books. They are then distributed to some bookshops in Accra.
The books range from Classes 1 through to SHS 3 and include several subjects - Mathematics, Akuapem Twi, English Language, Chemistry, etc.
Checks at some book shops in Accra show the books are sold between Ghc25 and Ghc50 depending on the size and class the books are meant for.
The book conversion facility is operated by one Ernestina Agyekumaa. She has been using the place for at least two years. She was originally said to be working at the Ghana Education Service. But checks with the Human Resource Department proved otherwise.
She runs the place with two other family members only known as Godfred, an SHS graduate and one Atta.
An operative and a teenager, Godfred told a member of the investigative team, "are you trying to be a good citizen of Ghana," and threatened to get him locked up in jail.
The informant has since been living in fear after many threats from the syndicate.
News of government textbooks finding their way into the market for sale is a malpractice known by the GES. But it is difficult to explain how they end up on the open market.
While a school of thought believes the publishers print the books in excess and release the excess into the market, others also believe it is an inside job within the GES.
The revelation comes after Executive Secretary of the Ghana Book Publishers Association told Adom FM, Senior High Schools have not received textbooks since 2007.
According to the Education Sector Performance Report of the Ministry of Education (MoE), from 2007 to 2010, over 80 percent of the Ministry’s procurement budget was spent on the acquisition of textbooks at an estimated value of Ghc60 million.
But while government incurs huge costs in printing the books, basic schools have been complaining of shortages.
A March 2012 edition of Junior Graphic reported; “there is a massive shortage of government textbooks for primary school pupils and JHS students in most public schools in Accra”, elaborating, “Currently, most of the schools have run out of textbooks for core subjects, which are Mathematics, English, Integrated Science and Social Studies, as well as Religious and Moral Education (RME).”