The Ghana Education Service (GES) has urged parents and guardians of students in public junior high schools (JHS) not to panic over the reported unavailability of fabrics for the new school uniforms to be introduced at the beginning of the new academic year, neither should that be a hindrance for students to be in school.
According to the GES, the current uniforms would be phased out over the next three years, so that the new uniforms did not become an added burden but rather give parents and guardians enough time to get them for their children and wards.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Director-General of the GES, Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, however, said it was not the responsibility of the GES to supply or produce the fabrics for the new uniforms, saying they could be purchased on the open market.
“Parents must not be unduly worried about not being able to immediately get them and thus prevent them from sending their children to school.
“The focus of the GES is to ensure that the policy is implemented when the 2019/2020 academic year begins. However, it will not be a complete change-over but a gradual phasing out over the next three years.
“Also, it’s not the responsibility of the GES to produce or supply the uniforms. All we have to do is announce and unveil the design and the style for the uniforms; it is up to business people or dealers to take it up and make the uniforms available on the market.
“Issues such as the source of production of the fabrics, the quality, supply and sale are beyond the GES. Our role ended when the fabrics and styles were unveiled after the initial announcement was made by President Nana Akufo-Addo in the State of the Nation Address earlier this year,” he explained.
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa granted the interview in reaction to the perception that the supply of the fabrics for the new uniforms was limited on the open market because his outfit had not made them available.
On a visit to the Newspaper Department of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), the Director-General of the GES said the current situation of the uniforms should not be an excuse for any child to be prevented from going to school because he/she was not wearing the new school uniform.
The visit was to afford the management of the GES an opportunity to explain the implementation of the new school uniforms policy, which commences from the 2019/2020 academic year in September, and also provide updates on issues concerning the educational reforms to be rolled out.
The Acting Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Kobby Asmah, welcoming the Director-General, said he was happy about the visit and called for effective stakeholder engagement to enable the paper to inform its readers accurately.
“As a credible newspaper, we need enough information to enable us to inform the public adequately. An ill-informed media cannot play their role effectively.
“In fact, we will rather be ill-informing society, and so for me, stakeholder engagement is absolutely essential if we are to serve the needs of society. That is why your visit is very critical and important to us.
“This visit will also open the doorway to enable us to have easy access to you, so that on the spot we can always elicit reactions to whatever we are trying to put out there,” Mr Asmah said.
Other members of the Graphic Editorial Board included the Night Editor, Mr Vance Azu, the News Editor, Mr Samuel Ablordepey, Gender and Education Editor, Ms Salome Donkor, and Sub-Editor Mr Zakaria Alhasan.
Although the announcement of the introduction of the new uniforms was made last April, the fabrics can so far be found at some few shops in the central business district (CBD) of Accra.
Some dealers in the fabric who spoke to the Daily Graphic when it went round confirmed that the fabric were imported.
A yard of the printed fabric for the top is being sold between GH¢15 and GH¢17, while the plain fabric for the pair of shorts or skirt is between GH¢9 and GH¢10 a yard.
At the moment, there are no already sewn sets on sale, although a few sets of sewn ones for both boys and girls are on display at the various shops selling the fabrics.
No free uniforms
Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said there would be no absolute free provision of uniforms at the initial stage, as the provision of school uniforms had always been the responsibility of parents, except in particular instances when government had intervened, saying that would not change.
“Generally, there will be no free supplies of the uniforms, but consideration will be given to the provision of uniforms for students in very deprived areas, as has always been done by the government.
“Even with the free SHS policy, first-year students are only supplied with uniforms on admission. If the student misplaces his uniforms or outgrows them or they get damaged, it becomes the responsibility of the parents to replace them.
“Thus parents of children in JHS should not expect to be handed free sets of uniforms when school resumes. They can purchase the uniforms for the children on the open market,” Prof. Opoku-Amankwa emphasised.