…Many Headmasters interdicted over widespread unauthorized fees
The Ghana Education Service (GES) appears overwhelmed and forced to interdict many headmasters of Senior High Schools (SHS) across the country, accusing them of imposing unauthorized fees on students, including questionable charges such as “Borla fees,” “motivation fees,” and “lunch bag” fees for new students making nonsense of the Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS Policy.
Out of the number, seven are from the Ashanti Region alone, two are from the Bono Region, while Greater Accra and Eastern regions, have not been spared. However, reports suggest that the actual number of interdicted head teachers could be higher, with individuals in other regions facing disciplinary action for unauthorized sales to students.
For instance, reports reveal that Bishop Herman College – BIHECO- in Kpando in the Volta Region is forking out as much as GH₵1,170 from fresh students charge as additional fees from first-year students, contravening the Free SHS principle.
The GH₵1,170 being demanded by the Catholic School is to complete their admission process in blatant disregard to the guidelines set by the GES and the Ministry of Education.
The breakdown of the charges includes a list of specific items amounting to GH₵935, necessary for students to be fully admitted: Furniture support – GH₵50, Exercise book – GH₵50, Exeat – GH₵20, Colleges Cloth & Cardigan – GH₵350 +30, Tracksuit – GH₵200+20, College Tie – GH₵25, College hymnal – GH₵45, White T-shirt – GH₵40, Hoe – GH₵35. This subtotal amounts to GH₵865, with an additional GH₵70 listed for food supplements, bringing the total to approximately GH₵935.
Furthermore, parents are expected to cover additional costs for the following: Parent Teacher Association dues – GH₵120, House dues – GH₵50, Passport picture – GH₵50 and Writing names – GH₵15. This translates to an extra GH₵235, raising concerns among parents who assert they have already spent a considerable amount to meet the requirements in the prospectus.
Parents express frustration over these unexpected charges, emphasizing the financial strain and short timelines given for payment.
The situation at Bishop Herman College adds to the ongoing debate surrounding adherence to the principles of Free SHS and highlights the challenges faced by parents and students despite the government’s efforts to provide free education at the secondary level.
Several letters from the Service have since last Friday, December 8, 2023, been in circulation announcing it has initiated investigations into the conduct of the headmasters.
The headteachers interdicted in the Bono Region are ; Afi Yaw Stephen, Headmaster of Berekum Senior High School, and Joseph Jilinjeh Abudu, Headmaster of Odomaseman Senior High School. They were both directed to step aside in separate letters by the GES for selling unauthorized items to new students.
In the Ashanti Region, Selina Anane Afoakwa, Headmistress of Kumasi Girls SHS, Nathaniel Asamoah, Headmaster of Asanteman SHS, Andrews Boateng, Headmaster of Kumasi Senior High Technical School and Kwadwo Obeng-Appiah, Headmaster of Manso-Adubia SHS, were all asked to step aside.
The rest are; Daniel Boamah Duku, Headmaster of the Agric Nzema Community SHS, Gladys Sarfowah, headmistress of Nkawie Senior High Technical School and Ampong Ahmed Omar, Headmaster of Collins SHS.
The other affected individuals are Patience Naki Mensah, Headmistress of Ghana Senior High School, Koforidua in the Eastern Region, and Nadia Lartechoe Annan, Headmistress of O’Reilly Senior High School in the Greater Accra Region.
The headmasters, have been accused of charging students various unapproved fees, including payments of house dues, Books and Calculators.
Others were also accused of charging fees for the admission process, the printing of slips and files and Hymn books.
Specific instances, include Afi Yaw Stephen’s alleged imposition of “Borla fees,” “motivation fees,” and “lunch bag” charges, while Jilinjeh Abudu was accused of charging GHC45 for hymn books, SRC fees, brown khaki, and other items.
Separate interdiction letters dated December 6th and 7th, 2023, were issued by the Regional Education Offices of Greater Accra and Eastern Regions to the respective headteachers.
Nadia Lartechoe Annan of O’Reilly SHS, was suspended pending an investigation into unauthorized collection of admission fees, violating the school’s code of conduct.
Similarly, Patience Naki Mensah of Ghana Senior High School, was interdicted for the unauthorized sale of ceremonial cloth, tracksuits, and other items to incoming Form One students.
Angel Carbonu, President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), has issued a strong warning to headteachers nationwide to comply with the government’s policy banning the sale of any items to students in schools.
Mr Carbonu on Citi FM’s Eyewitness News emphasized: “Let me caution my colleagues and my senior colleagues if GES under the control of the Ministry of Education is giving out a policy indicating that no school should sell any item to students either within the school premises or outside the school premises, no officer of the Ghana Education Service (GES) should make him or herself a salesman or a saleswoman to sell any item to parents or students.”
He further noted that while the rationale behind selling items might be valid, disregarding GES directives carries significant risk.
“Sometimes the reason these items are supposed to be sold is for very good reasons, mostly in the interest of the students themselves, but if the owner of the job, your employer, has directed you not to sell, why do you put yourself in harm’s way?
“You will just have to abide by that rule so that the consequences of that rule will be evident to the employer for the employer to rather amend its policy or maintain the policy.”