Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, standing in for the substantive minister to answer questions in Parliament bordering on education, had a tough time answering some of the questions, especially the one posed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Bosomtwe, Simon Osei-Mensah.
The Bosomtwe MP had asked the Minister to furnish the House with information on the total number of six-unit classroom blocks and two-storey dormitory blocks constructed by the Ministry of Education between January 2009 and December 2012, and also provide their locations and sources of funding.
The Minister accordingly provided the information in a 33-paged appendix to Members of Parliament, but the Member for Bosomtwe said the ministry’s answer fell short of what the question was demanding.
According to Mr. Osei-Mensah, the answer provided indicated just about 50 six-classroom blocks and 15 two-storey dormitories within the four-year period with funds from the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETfund) and also from Government of Ghana’s resources, and failed to give their locations.
“Mr. Speaker, this information could not be correct because in March 2011, this august House approved of CAL Bank loan facility amounting to GH¢85 million for the construction of 161 six-unit classroom blocks and 55 two-storey dormitory blocks for various senior high schools across the country; and if no information is given on such important projects, then where is the money?” he queried.
The Bosomtwe MP argued that with the CAL Bank loan facility and other projects undertaken under the GETfund and resources from grants, the number of six-unit classroom blocks and two-storey dormitories in senior high schools across the country should be higher than the figures provided by the ministry.
The Deputy Minister pleaded with the MP to go and re-align his facts on the CAL Bank facility and bring the accurate information to Parliament.
The First Deputy Speaker, Ebo Barton Odro, who was presiding, asked the Deputy Minister to come back to the House with the upgraded information before it rises in two weeks’ time.
Mr. Ablakwa was also taken on the spot by NPP Member of Parliament for Jaman South, Yaw Afful, who wanted to know when the dormitory project of Our Lady of Providence Senior High School at Kwasiborkrom in the Jaman South district of the Brong-Ahafo Region, awarded before 2008, would be completed.
In the Minister’s answer, he said the project was expected to be completed by November, 2014. According to him, the project, which was awarded in 2004 at the cost of GH¢443,334 and scheduled to be completed in 2008, was revised in 2005 with the contract sum increasing to GH¢851,427.
The Deputy Minister said work was 70 percent complete and that the remaining work would be completed by November, this year.
The Jaman South MP referred him to the Hansard where a similar question by him was asked in June, 2012 and the Minister then in answering the question, said work on the dormitory was 90 percent complete; so he wanted the Minister to reconcile the two answers as far as the stage of completion was concerned.
Okudzeto Ablakwa explained that at the time the MP was referring to, he was not at the Ministry so he might not know anything about that information, but the information he was providing was what officials in-charge of the project had given to him, therefore he would go back and check the real figure.
A question by the NPP Member for Asunafo North, Robert Sarfo-Mensah, as to what plans the Ministry of Education has regarding the construction of a new administration block for the Mim Senior High School in the Brong-Ahafo Region after the old block was gutted by fire last year, but the Deputy Minister’s answer that the administration was temporarily being housed in some part of the girls’ dormitory pending a report on the cause of the fire, generated a lot of controversy in Parliament.
The MPs wondered how male administrators could be sharing a dormitory for girls and called on the Ministry to take immediate steps to move them from the girls’ dormitory.