New curricula implementation: Give us textbooks - Educational heads cry out to GES
Municipal and district directors of education and head teachers of some basic schools in the Central Region have made a passionate appeal to the Ghana Education Service (GES) to ensure the supply of the full complement of textbooks to basic schools.
They said the current shortfall in the supply of textbooks, particularly for English Language, Core Mathematics and Science, was not aiding effective teaching and learning under the new standard-based curricula.
These concerns emerged when a 20-member Government Assurance Committee of Parliament embarked on a verification visit to some selected basic schools in the Central Region last Thursday and Friday.
However, in a quick response, the Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, said there were enough textbooks and copies for all regions and said the ministry was working with the Regional Heads of Stores to correct the deficit.
“We have procured enough textbooks for all subjects to go round all the schools. What is left is for the Regional Stores to ensure that every school with a shortfall receives the extra textbooks they need,” he said.
As an interim measure to overcome the bottleneck, Dr Adutwum said he had engaged GhanaPost and another courier service to ensure that the books were delivered quickly to places where they were in short supply.
“The engagement with GhanaPost is to ensure that the books are distributed immediately while a more permanent way is found to distribute textbooks to the schools from the regional stores,” the minister said, stressing that it was not right for the books to remain at the regional depots when the schools needed them.
The stakeholders noted that while some of the textbooks, teachers’ guide and other materials had been supplied, they were yet to receive the full complement.
The directors and head teachers also cited how the adverse situation had compelled schools to prevent learners from taking textbooks home for homework, a practice they said undermined the output of pupils.
Additionally, they expressed deep worry over how they had not yet received any textbooks for some of the junior high schools (JHS) at a time final-year students had to be prepared for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) in August this year.
The visit, led by the chairperson of the committee, Patricia Appiagyei, was aimed at finding out if all the basic schools had received the full complement of textbooks which Dr Adutwum promised to supply.
The minister had appeared in Parliament in 2021 to assure Members of Parliament that the GES had supplied the full complement of textbooks to all basic schools in the Central Region.
To verify that assurance, the committee visited the Islamic Research School in the Awutu Senya East Municipality, the Osubonpanyin Ateitu MA Basic School in the Effutu Municipality, Pomadze-Asebu D/A B Model Basic in the Gomoa Central District, Apewosika M/A Basic School in Cape Coast and the Kufui M/A Primary School in the Komenda/Edina/Eguafo/Abirem Municipality, where it discovered that most schools had not received the full set of textbooks.
The team also visited the Central Regional Depot at the Ghana National College where the Regional Supply Officer, Ebenezer Awotwe, also confirmed the shortage in the supply of textbooks.
During the visit to the Islamic Research Basic School, the Head teacher of the school, Rahinatu Iddrisu, informed the committee that the school had received a set of English and Science textbooks for standard-based curriculum from Class One to Class Six.
However, it had not received Mathematics textbooks for Classes One to Five.
For Creative Arts textbooks, she said, they received textbooks from Class One to Class Three.
When the chairperson of the committee asked when the textbooks were delivered, the head teacher said the first consignment came in on September 28, last year; the second on January 16, this year, while the third consignment was received on April 13, 2023.
Cumbersome carting of books
On how the municipal education directorate took delivery of the books, the Awutu Senya East Municipal Director of Education, Faustina Alimatu Braimah, told the committee that the GES in Accra first delivered the textbooks to the Central Regional Depot in Cape Coast, where the municipal directorate sent vehicles to pick them up to Kasoa for distribution to schools, based on enrolment.
She described the process of sending vehicles to pick up the books as not only cumbersome but costly to the directorate which operated on an annual budget of GH¢3,000.
“We cannot cart all the textbooks at a go because our vehicles are small and sometimes we have to rent cars to go and bring them from Cape Coast for distribution,” she said.
Mrs Braimah, therefore, suggested the construction of a depot in the Effutu Municipality where districts close to Accra such as Awutu Senya East, Gomoa East, Senya and Effutu could easily go for the textbooks.
Full set received
At the Osubonpanyin Ateitu M/A Basic School in Winneba, the Head teacher, Catherine Bentum, told the committee that the school had received the full set of Mathematics, English and Science textbooks.
However, the Effutu Municipal Director of Education, Mabel Judith Micah, said anytime textbooks arrived they were taken to Cape Coast and a pick-up had to be dispatched to cart them.
“So, we think that if we had a depot nearby, schools around could go for the textbooks to reduce the burden of travelling to Cape Coast for the materials,” she suggested.
No textbooks for JHS students
At the Pomadze Asebu D/A B Basic School, the Head teacher, Rose Quansah, said the school with an enrolment of 573 learners from Kindergarten One to JHS Three, had received 31 copies of Science for Class One, 42 copies for Class Two, 36 copies for Class Three, 46 copies for Class Four, 40 copies for Class Five and 40 copies for Class Six.
However, when the committee members quizzed her about textbooks received for JHS, she stated: “We have received none at the JHS level.”
On how the school had managed with no textbooks, given that final-year JHS students will soon write the BECE, Mrs Quansah said: “Normally, the students buy their own textbooks to support teaching and learning.”
Request for full complement
The Cape Coast Municipal Director of Education, Phyllis Asante-Krobea, also said the directorate had not received the full complement of textbooks for all the subjects except for Mathematics and Creative Arts.
Asked if the shortfall in the supply affected teaching and learning, Mrs Asante-Krobea said: “Yes, it does and we want to have the full complement and that will be better.”
The committee also visited the Central Regional Book Depot where the regional Supply Officer of the GES Regional Education Directorate, Ebenezer Awotwe, corroborated the concerns of the head teacher and the district education director.
Mr Awotwe said since 2021, he had not received the full set of Creative Arts and Core Mathematics textbooks from Primary One to Six, adding that “we are yet to receive some of the materials.”
“Since I took over as the regional supply officer in January 2022, I have not received any textbooks for the junior high school,” Mr Awotwe told the committee.
Asked if he knew the quantity of textbooks allocated to the Central regional schools, Mr Awotwe said: “I receive the materials from the headquarters in Accra without knowing the beneficiaries.”
“If they are meant for basic schools, I go to the regional statistics and planning office and collect data and share the books to district offices which also share them,” he said.
Speaking to the media after the tour, Mrs Appiagye gave the assurance that the committee would engage the Education Minister to find out why there had been a shortfall in the supply of textbooks in the Central Region.