At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana in October 2021, the Ministry of Education spent GH₵2 million on a COVID-19 Tracker App that was never used.
The app was intended to track COVID-19 cases in junior and senior high schools across the country. This was after the government launched the national COVID-19 Tracker App in April 2020.
However, the Auditor General’s report on the country’s expenditure on COVID-19 has revealed that the app was never used.
The ministry’s app was created under the Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project (GALOP). GALOP was a five-year project with the objective to improve the quality of education in low-performing basic education schools and strengthen education sector equity and accountability in Ghana. The project was jointly funded by the World Bank, the Department For International Development (DFID), and the Global Partnerships for Education (GPE).
Although The Fourth Estate downloaded the App on Google Playstore in August 2022, it could not log into it.
The app has since been taken down.
An audit report by the Ghana Audit Service on GALOP in June 2022 revealed that although the App was designed and developed, it was never deployed.
The audit report indicated that the non-usage of the App and other information technology (IT) infrastructure developed during the COVID-19 pandemic “could result in waste of government scarce resources.”
The audit report further indicated that IT infrastructure worth GH₵16 million procured under GALOP had been left idle.
That, according to the report, was because there was not enough collaboration between the procuring authorities and the implementing institution.
“The anomaly was attributed to late deployment of these tools, lack of consultation and coordination between the procuring Agencies (Ministry of Education and Ghana Library Authority and the user Agency (Ghana Education Service),” the report indicated.
The Fourth Estate’s RTI application to the Ministry of Education
To establish why the Ministry of Education had decided to develop an app although the government had already created one for that purpose, The Fourth Estate requested the following information through the RTI law in August 2022:
- When was the Ministry of Education’s CovTracker app launched?
- How much did the Ministry of Education pay for the CovTracker app?
- How was it deployed in the schools?
- The list of educational institutions and schools the CovTracker was used to record data on Covid-19-related cases.
- How different is this CovTracker app from the Covid-19 app?
- A copy of advertisement for the expression of interest for the services being rendered by the agency mentioned in (1) above in the dailies.
When the ministry failed to respond to the request within 14 days as the Right to Information (RTI) law required, The Fourth Estate appealed to the Minister for Education to release the requested information on September 22, 2022.
The minister did not respond to the appeal.
The Fourth Estate petitioned the RTI Commission on October 31, 2022, after the Ministry of Education had not responded to any of the requests.
The Commission wrote to the ministry on November 7, 2022. But, again, the ministry failed to respond.
After almost ten months of the Ministry of Education’s failure to grant The Fourth Estate’s request, the RTI Commission ruled to fine the ministry GH₵50,000.
“An administrative penalty of GH₵50,000.00 is imposed on the Respondent and this shall be payable to the Commission not later than 14 days after receipt of this decision of the Commission. The penalty so imposed shall attract an additional default penalty rate of 10% on the principal penalty sum of GH₵50,000 in the event of default for any additional 14 days thereafter.
“This penalty is founded on the Respondent’s failure to make decisions on the Applicant’s application, the Respondent clearly failed/and or refused to respond to the Commission’s letter received by it. Such a posture by the Respondent militates against the right to access of information enshrined under Article 21(1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and affirmed by Act 989 and same ought to be disapproved in strong terms.”
The RTI Commission further ruled that all the information requested by The Fourth Estate should be released within 14 days of its determination. However, after more than one month of the Commission’s ruling, the Ministry of Education is yet to furnish The Fourth Estate with the requested information.
The commission’s ruling is contained in a document dated May 30, 2022.
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