The decision to re-open or close down any public school in the country lies in the hands of only the Minister of Education, the management of Ghana Education Service (GES) has emphasized.
The GES, has, therefore, advised the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) to back down on its decision not to re-open public secondary schools across the country for the next academic year, if government does not address pressing challenges facing them.
“CHASS is also reminded not to forget that they are part of the GES management and we insist on the continuous dialogue with all stakeholders,” it added.
The Director-General of GES, Mr. Jacob Kor, stated this at a press conference in Accra yesterday, in reaction to threats by CHASS not to re-open the schools for the 2016/2017 academic year.
Last Wednesday, CHASS held a press conference in Accra at which it mentioned the pressing challenges facing schools to include, unpaid absorbed fees and feeding grants, unpaid government scholarships, unpaid progressively free scholarships, inadequate feeding fee of GH¢ 3.30 per student per day for three meals.
The head of schools also complained about high expenditure on sanitation and fumigation due to bed bug infestation in schools as well as non-payment of Government of Ghana grants for administration since 2011 among others.
The president of CHASS, Madam Cecilia Kwakye Cofie, said that several appeals to the Ministry of Education, GES management and GES Council had yielded no results.
On the issue of unpaid absorbed fees, Mr. Kor said that Senior High School (SHS) Subsidy amounting to GH¢23.5 million had been paid for
the first term of 2015/2016 academic year, and at the time CHASS went to the press, another amount of GH¢ 23.4 million meant for the payment of subsidy for the second term was ready to be disbursed to the schools and that only the third term was outstanding.
Addressing the issue of feeding grants, he said that GH¢2 million has been paid and that payment for that of special schools for the third term was also being processed to be paid by the end of the term.
Regarding the request to increase the feeding fee of GH¢3.30 per student per day to a higher figure, he said the GES council had taken a decision on their request and that would be taken care of at the beginning of the 2016/2017 academic year, adding that reviews were done annually and not in the middle of the year.
Touching on the issue of Progressively Free Scholarships, an amount of GH¢17.2 million has been paid for the second term of the 2015/2016 academic year and that only the third term was currently outstanding and it was being processed to be paid before the term ends.
On the issue of the government of Ghana scholarships, he said that as at July 14, 2016, government released GH¢45,088,380, US$2, 808, 758.04 and EUROS 283, 608.00 for second cycle claims for third term of 2015/2016 academic year.
However, he said that payment on VAT and Income Tax could not cease and if second cycle schools wanted to be exempt from paying VAT, they must request for an amendment to that law, and that CHASS had been advised several times to take that action but it had refused.
He appealed to CHASS to continue to cooperate, consult and collaborate with all stakeholders for the smooth running of all schools.
By Emelia Enyonam Kuleke