The Ghana Chapter of the Social Enterprise Development Foundation, (SEND Ghana) is asking the Ghana Education Service (GES) to give details on how it disbursed the GHS61.8 million allocated to it for the implementation of the National Free School Uniform Programme, as well as the distribution guidelines it used for the project from 2009 to 2016.
The fund, which was allocated and captured in six national budgets from 2009 to 2014, according to the organization, was also mentioned in the 2017 budget.
However, SEND Ghana noted that implementation of the initiative has been facing some distribution challenges, as GES consistently failed to provide guidelines for the distribution of the uniforms.
Briefing the media at a national dialogue on the Free Uniform Project, Senior Programme Officer, SEND Ghana, Harriet Nuamah Agyemeng, explained that the number of uniforms distributed had not been properly documented and the amount of money spent on the uniforms as being quoted by the GES and the Finance Ministry are at variance.
According to the GES, 2.8million uniforms have been distributed under the project as at 2016 but SEND Ghana noted that the figure may be inflated as 300,000 pupils did not receive the uniforms.
Nuamah Agyemang noted that the organization became aware of the situation on a tracking initiative undertaken in 30 districts within Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East and West Regions in June last year.
She however said despite all those challenges, information gathered shows that the free school uniforms programme together with other interventions like the school feeding programme, and the distribution of free sandals, had helped to increase enrolment in certain schools in deprived areas.
The dialogue which brought together various stakeholders in education was held to discuss the status of the implementation of the free school uniform to help secure government’s full commitment towards addressing the challenges facing the distribution
“Some of the uniforms presented to the schools have been identified to be wrongly labeled, over-sized or under-sized, while some fabrics used to sew the uniforms were also found to be of poor quality” she revealed.
The organization said it was important for government to decentralize the project so as to equip local tailors in the various communities where the uniforms are being distributed to serve the objective of creating jobs for local tailors and dressmakers within the districts.
The tracking, according to the organization, revealed that some politicians were involved in the distribution of school uniforms in 2016. Most of them gave the uniforms out to children who were located in their strongholds where they could acquire votes.
Meanwhile, an Assistant Director of Education, Supply and Logistics at GES, Salifu Abdul Rahman, said the service had allocated 2000 uniform contracts to tailors in each of the then 170 districts to sew the uniforms but they could not meet the requirement.
“Looking at the level of unpreparedness at the various districts by the local tailors, GES later decided to give the contract to industrial tailors to execute” he said.
Chairperson of the event, Linda Ofori-Kwafo of Ghana Integrity initiative (GII), lauded Send Ghana’s initiative and said it would go a long way to improve and reduce the challenges confronting the free school uniform programme.
Source: Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe || Goldstreet Business