The educational future of a 16-year-oldpupil, Fred, brightened last Friday in Accra when teachers, whose corrupt habit of illegally inflating examination registration fees has twice made it impossible for him to write the Basic Education Certificate Examination, were disciplined.
Education Minister Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang who cracked the whip, demoted nine heads of Junior High Schools in the Abavana and Kanda suburbs of the Accra metropolis.
“The demoted heads have also been instructed by the Education Ministry to refund monies they illegally collected from pupils as examination registration fees. The sanctions were announced after the heads were summoned on Friday to justify why they were charging illegal fees”, a spokesperson said.
The investigation and subsequent disciplinary action by the Education Ministry follows a Joy FM News’ exposé which revealed that some schools in the capital were charging as high as GH¢200 for an examination registration process that is supposed to cost 17.40 Ghana cedis per candidate.
Per the Education Ministry’s directive, the schools can add additional charges based on negotiations with parents but some schools had been exploiting it unilaterally and making life impossible for pupils from poor homes.
Pupils at the Abavanna cluster of schools were paying GHS111.00, whilst those at the Kanda cluster of schools were paying GHS120.00. Those at the Garrison schools at Burma Camp were also paying GHS 50.00 for the same process.
Said Kwasi Asante, Examinations Coordinator for the Accra Metro Education Directorate, “there was little we could do about the situation. But the Ministry has found a solution, at least for the time being. Kwasi Asante is on his way out of the Accra Metro.
Another official who sought anonymity, reported that the additional charges had prevented 16-year-old Fred, a pupil of Kotobabi 3, in the Abavanna cluster of Schools from registering to write his exams.
“It is the second time he is missing the opportunity to register and write the BECE, Nartey reported, “as he was one of many students whose parents were unable to pay the registrations fee”
The official disclosed that five school heads from the Abavanna Cluster of schools and the Accra Metro Education Directorate Kwesi Asante were summoned by the Ministry to explain why they were charging the exorbitant fees.
The heads from the Kanda cluster of schools failed to turn up. It appeared those present at the meeting were not successful in justifying why they were charging illegal fees.
He told newsmen that the school heads from Abavanna will no longer hold themselves out as heads of the various clusters. The same sanctions have been handed to the heads of Kanda Cluster of schools head who failed to turn up at the Ministry’s meeting.
According to the Ministry, the schools can only charge GHS30.00 and have instructed the heads to refund the overcharged amounts to the parents of the pupils.
With these sanctions, the heads at Abavanna are to refund GHS81.00 to each pupil. Those at the Kanda Cluster of Schools are to refund GHS90.00 whilst those at Garrison schools in Burma Camp are to refund GHS20.00.