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Minority questions cost of math sets to be purchased for SHS students

The Minority in Parliament has questioned the cost of mathematical sets purchased for Senior High School students.

The Scientific Mathematical Instruments (SMI) are to help eliminate examination malpractices in the country but the NDC MPs claim the unit cost of ₵75 per set is too expensive as compared to others on the market.

The SMI is to be procured and supplied by Messrs Bluegrass Group Limited for use in examinations conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in Ghana.

The agreement between Education Ministry and Messrs Bluegrass Group Limited will see the company supplying 853,009 units of the Kapek Scientific Mathematical Instruments.

Presenting the Finance Committee report for approval of $3.2 million tax waiver on the importation of the mathematical sets, Chairman of the Committee, Mark Assibey Yeboh said the procurement of the Kapek branded Scientific Mathematical Instruments will combat examination malpractices which had been aided especially by use of mathematical sets and calculators in examination halls by candidates in all WAEC examinations.

He added that the two-in-one functionality of the instruments which comes as a cheaper alternative to acquiring them individually will also help to improve the rating of the certificate issued by the examining body and boost confidence in the nation’s educational systems.

But contributing to the debate on the floor, former Deputy Education MInister, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa demanded a value for money report on the yet to be procured materials.

“On the market currently, the Marchal Mathematical Instrument is going for ₵7, the Oxford is ₵5. The most expensive one, the Nataraj mathematical instrument is ₵12

“This is 75 cedis, we are told it comes with some calculator, did you see a sample,” Mr Ablakwa questioned the Finance Committee chair.

The North Tongu MP also expressed his disappointment over the sole sourced contract to M/S Bluegrass Group Limited without the participation of other local companies.

“I would really have wished that after all these years we can get a local manufacturer to produce these very basic scientific and mathematical instruments here in Ghana. We are importing all of them and I am worried about that,” he lamented.

The MP added that Ghanaian companies have come up with very creative scientific sets and it was time for such companies to be encouraged through building local capacity.

“Mathematical instruments are so basic that I believe if there was the political will, we could have gotten a company here in Ghana to manufacture these instruments instead of importing them.

“Is the Finance Committee really convinced that we needed to use sole sourcing and identify one company to import all of these? Did we get value for money for that arrangement? What is so special about the group that the Ministry of Education applied to PPA to use sole sourcing in this purchase,” he queried.

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