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18
Mon, Dec

Use relevant channels to deal with challenges — GES

Matthew Opoku Prempeh

The Ghana Education Service (GES) has urged heads of senior high schools (SHSs) in the country that have specific concerns to use the relevant channels to liaise with it to deal with those concerns.

It said the service was committed to quality education delivery goals in the country at all levels and was working to ensure that any challenges were resolved in an expedited manner.

Reacting to the lead story in the Monday November 20, 2017 issue of the Daily Graphic, the Ag. Director-General of the GES, Prof Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa said, the attention of the GES was drawn to the news report by the outgoing President of the Conference of Assisted Senior High Schools (CHASS), Mrs Cecilia Kwakye Coffie, who was quoted to have made a wide range of statements, particularly on the running of the SHSs in the country.

Premature closure

At the 68th Speech and Prize-giving Day of the Winneba SHS in Winneba last Saturday Mrs Coffie called on the government, “as a matter of urgency, release subsidies, which have been in arrears for three terms to senior high schools,” saying that “SHSs risked being closed down prematurely if the absorbed fees by the government did not reach the schools immediately.”

Rebutal

But in a rebutal, Prof Opoku-Amankwa said both the subsidies and Progressively Free SHS programme, which were in arrears of GH¢25,469,885.50 and GH¢17,972,658 respectively as at January 2017 in respect of the first term of the academic year had been paid.

Subsidies and Progressively Free SHS

“The arrears in respect of the third term of the 2015/16 academic year, amounting to GH¢8,653,176 have also been paid.

“Further, GH¢10,128,090.21 for the Progressively Free SHS programme relating to the second term of the 2016/17 academic year has been paid, leaving an outstanding amount of GH¢7,844,567.79.

“The subsidies for the second term, together with both subsidies and the Progressively Free SHS arrears are still outstanding and are being processed for payment,” Prof. Opoku-Amankwa announced.

He, however, wondered how, the arrears of subsidy, which was just GH¢30.80 per student per term out of the total school fees of GH¢1,002.67, representing 3.07 per cent, could result in the prematured closure of schools, and assured the general public that the SHSs would not close down prematurely.

Different schedules

Prof Opoku-Amankwa explained that the arrears had always immanated from the fact that, while the Ministry of Finance worked on a quarterly calendar cycle, the schools operated on a trimester basis.

“This apparent conflict does have an impact on the payment cycle, and the Ministry of Education is actively engaged in discussions with the Ministry of Finance to find a way of reconciling the two cycles to prevent the regular spectre of arrears,” he explained.

Food supplies

Prof Opoku-Amankwa said the GES was surprised that Mrs Coffie, who was part of stakeholders to agree that the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) would register all suppliers of the schools and would be required to pick up the non-perishable items from the company for supplies to the schools, “could come out to say that since the buffer stock company took charge of the supply of food items on the directive of the government, no supply had been made to the schools.”

Challenges

He said the GES did not hide from stakeholders that there were initial challenges but gave an assurance that a team made up of the Ag. Deputy Director-General of the GES, the Chairman of the GES Council, the Coordinator of the Free SHS Secretariat and a representative from the NAFCO was currently on a nation-wide tour to meet with the suppliers and school heads to address the various challenges.