The Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, has largely been in the business of simply admitting the inability of the government to supply textbooks to pupils of basic schools despite the introduction of a new curriculum three years ago.
The future of the nation’s educational set-up looks very worrying. The various sector stakeholders strongly believe Dr. Adutwum acknowledges the relevance of textbooks in the process of implementing a new curriculum effectively in the basic schools; however, the political will to execute this very important policy has been in limbo for the past three years.
Like John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the USA, once said: “As we express what deeply we acknowledge, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
There have been several dates announced by either the education minister, Dr. Adutwum, or the communication team of the ministry of education which sincerely, time has proven that the people of Ghana should have taken those announcements with a pinch of salt.
After three years of implementing a new curriculum without textbooks, amid a sporadic shortage of chalk and other essential teaching/learning materials, the spokesperson of the Education Ministry, Kwesi Kwarteng, showed up at the beginning of the year to announce that the distribution of textbooks for the new curriculum will start in March 2022.
We are currently in the third week of May and there is no sign of textbooks for our basic schools. After following the activities of the sector closely from the early weeks of implementation of the new curriculum, I can sincerely conclude that the pressure being mounted by student leaders, civil society organisations, and many Ghanaians on the government to provide textbooks, will only be meaningful to the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service in 2024.
On a lighter note, I foresee the gov’t raising giant billboards with captions like: “Free textbooks for basic schools, remember us.”
The politics of procurement was indicated to be one of the major reasons for the delay in providing textbooks by Dr. Yaw Adutwum on the floor of parliament in late December 2021.
The flip side of the excuse given by the education minister on the floor of parliament is that the politics of procurement has a good relationship with the reward system of campaign financiers and political party financing officials. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest educational pending projects is the absence of textbooks for a new curriculum. It will be a huge fortune for the party financiers who will win the bid to supply the textbooks.
President Nana Addo announced the implementation in September 2019 and indicated that the new curriculum would focus on making children confident, innovative, creative thinkers, digitally literate, well-rounded and patriotic citizens; but the reality is that pupils are direct victims of the frustrations of teachers who do not have the learning materials to teach.
A gentleman, who works as a project manager for an NGO that is into assisting communities to fight open defecation shared an interesting experience with me; his experience creates a perfect picture to explain why there will be no textbooks after three years of implementing a new curriculum until 2024.
This zealous young man was employed to be a deputy project manager to handle a project in one of the coastal rural areas. This gentleman was zealously campaigning in the assigned communities and mobilising the neighbouring communities to work in groups to help fight the attitude of open defecation, and he was getting results for his efforts.
One day, his direct boss called him into a meeting, he thanked the young man for his hard work but informed him that he is over solving the problems because their donor supports depend on the availability of these problems.
It appears the MoE and Ghana Education Service (GES) are applying the principle of a great public relational mechanism instead of realistically addressing the unavailability of the textbook. It is a sad reality that a government is waiting till 2024 to build a political capital out of the absence of textbooks for a new curriculum they introduced.