The NGO wants government to renegotiate and award fabric production contracts to local textile industries instead of importing them from outside the country.
The call was made known during a day’s “national dialogue on the free school uniform programme” organized by SEND Ghana in collaboration with Global Partnership for Social Accountability and funded by the World Bank in Accra.
The dialogue was aimed at soliciting views from various stakeholders on how to ensure local textile industries benefit from the programme and make appropriate recommendations to the Education Ministry.
The meeting called on the Ministry of Education to renegotiate and re-award contracts for production of fabric awarded to foreign firms.
“Until renegotiation is done, the Ministry should also encourage the uniform production companies to purchase fabrics from local textile manufacturers,” the meeting recommended.
The meeting also expressed concern that garment production contracts under the programme are not transparent enough.
“Our monitoring report also found that the source of the fabric used for the production of the free uniforms was unknown to the agencies spearheading the project, making government’s aim of boosting the local textile industry hard to assess,” Senior Programme Officer for SEND Ghana Harriet Nuamah Agyemang noted.
SEND Ghana believes the programme is a laudable one which can boost the local textile industries and generate lots of employment for the youth within the textile industry and contribute to reducing the unemployment situation in the country.
It also believes although the programme is a good social intervention initiative that can make the lives of societies’ under privileged better, there are currently too many challenges militating against its successful implementation.
“Some schools in the Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions are fraught with challenges such as poor distribution guidelines, the lack of a credible schools selection criterion among others,” a monitoring report by SEND Ghana on the free uniform distribution programme revealed.
Mrs. Nuamah Agyemang noted the programme was introduced to bring relief to parents and ensure the provision of jobs and it’s about time these objectives were prioritized.
The Senior Programmes Officer said in order to improve on the free uniform programme and the educational sector as a whole, Education Ministry officials “should go back and take a closer look at the objective of the initiative and bring back local textile players and dress makers on board to improve the sector.”
“We believe that government’s responsiveness to this demand will help realize the full potential of the programme,” she said.
On his part Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education and Member of Parliament for Jaman North, Steven Siaka said, the disclosures in the report were timely as it would assist the committee in proposing solutions to the major challenges disrupting the implementation of programmes designed to improve the educational sector.
Also present at the national dialogue were representatives from the Ghana Integrity Initiative, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service and Gender Children and Social Protection Ministry.