On August 11, 2020, the Minister of Education, Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh (Napo), presented a statement to parliament.
The presentation was part of a special dispensation granted by the Speaker of Parliament to Ministers to make statements about their sectors to the house.
Fact-check Ghana has verified some of the claims the minister made during his presentation. Below are the verdicts and explanations.
Claim 1: “In the National Education Assessment (NEA) conducted in 2016, only 11% of Primary 6 pupils were proficient in Mathematics. Mr. Speaker, it is heartwarming to note that the well thought-out initiatives pursued since 2017 are beginning to yield results. In the 2018 National Education Assessment proficiency rate in Mathematics increased from 11% in 2016 to 22% in 2018.”
Verdict: Completely False
Explanation: The NEA is a biennial nationally and regionally representative measure of pupils’ competency in mathematics and English in primary classes 4 and 6 (P4 and P6).
Contrary to the Minister’s claim that “only 11% of Primary 6 pupils were proficient in Mathematics,” the 2016 National Education Assessment published by the Ministry of Education rather indicates that 24.9% of Primary 6 pupils were proficient in Mathematics. This is contained in Table ES1 labelled as “Percentage of pupils meeting criteria for minimum competency and proficiency, by subject and grade” on page viii of the assessment report and further corroborated by the diagram under Figure 2 of the report (page 9). Below is a screenshot of the table and diagram.
While Fact-check Ghana could not access the 2018 NEA, even if the minister’s claim that 22% of Primary 6 pupils were proficient in mathematics in 2018 is assumed to be correct, then there’s a decrease in proficiency in mathematics rather than increase when compared with the 2016 NEA.
Claim 2: “Mr. Speaker, the Book & Research Allowance which was abolished by the NDC government, has been restored by this government.”
Verdict: Completely False
Explanation: In 2013, the Government of Ghana, through its functionaries announced that it was going to review the book and research allowance, a system that provided research support to lecturers and researchers. The government said it wanted to replace it with the national research fund.
The decision was also announced in the 2014 budget statement (pg. 190) by the then finance minister, Mr. Seth Terkper.
“In order to encourage more research work in tertiary institutions and to realize its full benefits, Government has decided to review the existing system of payment of the book and research allowance, and replace it with a Research Facility. Mr. Speaker, the Ministry of Education through the National Council for Tertiary Education has set aside GH₵15 million towards the establishment of a Research and Innovation Facility,” the budget statement said.
The decision was opposed by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG), which staged a number strikes to register their protest.
UTAG and POTAG contended that they did not oppose the establishment of the national research fund, as it was an idea they first mooted in 2006. They, however, believed that the fund should not give rise to the scrapping of the book and research allowance but should complement it. Their demands were, however, not fully accepted by the Government of Ghana.
Despite the disagreements, the NDC government in its last year in power, 2016, paid the book and research allowance for the 2015/2016 academic year. This was announced by President John Dramani Mahama at the 50th congregation ceremony of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi on July 6, 2019. He said the government had released GH¢37 million to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department to pay the book and research allowance.
The payment was further confirmed by the then President of UTAG, Dr. Harry Agbanu, that the various universities had picked up their cheques from the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE).
A letter by the Ministry of Finance authorizing payment on March 24, 2016.
These pieces of evidence therefore prove that the NDC government did not cancel the book and research allowance warranting its restoration or reintroduction.
Claim 3: “In 2015, approximately 49% of [WASCCE] candidates scored F9 in mathematics…”
Explanation: The West African Examination Council (WAEC) released the provisional results of candidates who took the 2015 West African Senior School Certificate Examination for School Candidates (WASSCE) in August 2015.
On the contrary, 37.17% of the candidates scored F9 in mathematics. This is further corroborated by an infographic photo that Code for Ghana published after the results were released.
Claim 4: “Similarly, the proportion of students that score F9 in mathematics [WASSCE] has declined from 45% in 2015 to 14% in 2019.”
Explanation: Even though according to data from WAEC, it is accurate that 14% of candidates that took the 2019 WASSCE scored F9 in mathematics, it is false that 45% of the WASSCE 2015 scored F9.
Further, it is worth noting the inconsistency in Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh’s data on the percentage of WASSCE students who scored F9 in mathematics in 2015. While he previously quoted 49%, he later mentioned 45%, both of which are incorrect.