Two former students of the Association International School (AIS) have sued the school over its decision to withhold their transcripts until they settle their outstanding school fees.
In a suit to endorse their right to education at the Human Rights Division of the High Court in Accra, the students — Sewenam Avle and Selikem Avle — who are suing through their mother, Nana Akua Hayford Avle, alleged that after paying GH¢100,000 out of GH¢141,560 as school fees, when they were ready to pay the rest, the school informed them that the balance of GH¢41,560, equivalent to $8,593 at the time of first payment, was now GH¢111,709 due to depreciation of the Ghana cedi at the time of paying the second instalment.
When they disagreed with the school on the outstanding amount, they alleged that the AIS communicated to them that they must stay at home due to their inability to pay the remaining fees, as communicated by the school.
By that action, the students, in their affidavit in support of the motion, said “the applicants felt ashamed, embarrassed and humiliated by the directive to stay home by reason of the fact that there was a disagreement between me and the school regarding outstanding amounts”.
As a result of the disagreement, the students’ mother, who had sought a different school for them, needed their transcripts as part of the admission process to the new school.
Upon request for the transcripts, the students alleged that AIS refused the request to release their transcripts, in spite of several subsequent requests.
“That AIS has failed to provide a compelling reason to justify withholding the transcripts and results of the applicants for the years already completed and fees paid for should be allowed as a reasonable limited to the applicants’ legal educational developments,” the students averred in their application, which has the Attorney-General as the second respondent.
The applicants are asking the court to declare as a violation of their fundamental human right the school’s refusal to release their transcripts.
They are also seeking a “declaration that there is no lawful basis for AIS to interfere with the applicants’ right to education based on fees owed the school”.
“An order directed at AIS to immediately release the transcripts and results of the two students,” they said in their application.
Apart from seeking damages for constitutional violations, inconvenience and waste of time, the students are also asking the court to direct AIS to pull down all pictures of the applicants that it uses on its website.
Meanwhile, in a response, the AIS contended that as a private liability company, it had no constitutional mandate and obligation to provide the students with an avenue to realise their rights of education unless the applicants could meet the terms and conditions set out by the school.
It is the case of the school that the students’ mother was made to sign a re-enrolment contract to comply with the terms and conditions of the school at the beginning of the academic year, but later said her children were no longer returning to the school due to economic hardships.
The school added that as part of its policy, “once a student leaves the school with outstanding schools fees, the student and his or her parents’ access to the platform is blocked until payment of the school fees in full”.
The applicants, according to the school, owed it $18,382.57, and that was acknowledged by their mother, adding: “That it does not accord with sound reason, good conscience and equity for the applicants to access education and use the expensive facilities of the school and refuse to pay school fees.”
“The applicants have failed, refused and neglected to even adhere to their own payment plan they sent to the school through their mother.
“They and their parents had access to the school's main platform called 'Managebac' like all other parents while they were in the school and could access all reports and transcripts,” the school said in its defence, filed on January 10, 2023.
It said until the students paid all their outstanding financial obligations to the school, particularly when they had terminated their contract of enrolment on their own accord, it could not be compelled to release their transcripts to them.
The school also described the application as grossly incompetent, as the applicants failed to notify the Attorney-General, who is party to the suit, 30 days before the commencement of the action, adding: “The application is incompetent, frivolous and vexatious and discloses no reasonable cause of action.”
History of Association International School
The AIS was founded by the late Col George E. Amuah in 1963 as a private school and stamped with his educational values, transforming it into a nationally recognised institution.
It was, however, made a model public school in 1984, after the government had seized the assets of the school, and although it maintained its name and original site since conception, the vision of providing transforming education changed.
In 2009, 25 years later, then President John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor released and returned all of the confiscated assets of the school to the rightful owners, the Amuahs.
Following the reinstatement, students under the Ghana Education Service had to be transitioned and transferred to another government school in 2010 as the institution underwent a major facelift.
The newly renovated private international school opened its doors to the public again on September 11, 2011.