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Printing textbooks locally; time and tide wait for no man

BY: Daily Graphic
Asare Konadu Yamoah - President, Ghana Publishers Association
Asare Konadu Yamoah - President, Ghana Publishers Association

Since 2020 when the government took the bold decision to completely change the curriculum for basic schools, there has been public outcry, especially after teachers came out that the resource pack given them as temporary teaching material was not detailed enough for proper and effective teaching to take place.

In the same year, member-publishers of the Ghana Publishers Association (GPA) were contacted to submit documents to the Ministry of Education for textbook procurement.

That gave the public hope and belief that the printing of the books would be done expeditiously. The public was also assured that the government had ceded 100 per cent of the printing of textbooks to local printers, and publishers were, therefore, tasked to submit signed memoranda of understanding with printers.

However, it has been two years since all that were done and the expectation is that the printing should have been done or at least ongoing to ensure smooth teaching and learning.

It, therefore, appears worrying that no contract has yet been signed between the government and the publishers. (See yesterday’s front page lead story.)

We are worried about the undue delay in the award of the contracts, mainly because the current state is compromising effective teaching and learning, since teachers have openly complained about the inadequacy of the teacher’s resource pack.

Secondly, the undue delay has created uneasy calm among local printers that parts of the contract could slip out of the country, to the detriment of our local printing industry.

We acknowledge the fact that the ministry has to go through the procurement process, as prescribed by the Public Procurement Authority, before the contracts can be awarded, but we believe that the process has taken too long a time, considering the urgency for the contract – the printing of textbooks for our children.

We believe that the procurement act is very clear and straightforward. For such an important tender to take almost two years, and still counting, to go through the procurement process is, to say the least, worrying and mind-boggling, particularly so when there are timelines in the procurement process.

It is our expectation, and that of the public, that the contract will be signed as soon as possible to give publishers the green light to execute.

No one can fault local printers for raising red flags over the possibility that at least part of the contracts could find their way outside the country.

The Daily Graphic is, however, happy that the GPA has come out publicly to declare its commitment to work with the Ghana Printers and Paper Converters Association (GPPCA) to ensure that the printing of the books is done 100 per cent locally.

Also commendable is the pronouncement by the publishers that the two parties are committed to developing the indigenous publishing and printing industry, thereby supporting local printing and publishing.

We applaud the President of the GPA, Asare Konadu Yamoah, for the tactical way he has handled the concerns raised by the GPPCA, followed by the warning given by the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, to deal appropriately with any publisher found to be circumventing the system.

The Daily Graphic urges the publishers and the printers to continue to work closely with the common aim of securing the contracts and doing the entire printing locally. Wherever there is any genuine concerns, they should use the communication channel established by the two parties to get those concerns addressed.

In the execution of these contracts, the keywords are a united front; anything short of that and the two parties will be shooting their own feet.

The urgency for the printing of the textbooks for use by teachers and pupils is non-negotiable if we are committed to developing a strong base for tomorrow’s human capital.

The child cannot wait, and so as we wait for the processes to be completed, we must bear in mind that time and tide wait for no man.