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18.04.2007 Crime & Punishment

Headmaster Squanders BECE Registration Fees

The hopes of 11 JSS Three students of the Ghana National Preparatory School (GHANAPS) at Nungua, in Accra, of writing this year's Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) have been dashed because the proprietor of the school has squandered their registration fees.

“It was just unfortunate,” the Proprietor, Mr Theophilus Tei Okunnor, who also doubles as the Headmaster of the school, was reported to have told the police after his arrest.

Mr Okunnor, who is a former Assembly Member for East Nkpor in Nungua, was yesterday remanded in police custody, together with the Assistant Headmaster, Mr Ben Nyamekye, after appearing before the La Magistrate Court on a preliminary charge of stealing.

Although BECE candidates are required to pay ¢41,000, which is 28 per cent of the registration fee of ¢146,000, with the government absorbing the remainder, the parents and students claimed that they were made to pay ¢100,000 as registration fees for the examination.

According to them, apart from the registration fees, all the other financial investments they had made in the children, such as the payment of school and mock examination fees, the buying of a compiled book of senior secondary schools (SSS) from which they could make their choice and other materials, all totalling ¢1.5 million each (¢16.5 million for all the students) for this academic year alone, had gone down the drain.

Daily Graphic enquiries indicated that Mr Okunnor had all along deceived the parents of the students that he had registered them for the BECE until last Monday, one week to the start of the BECE, when he unveiled his deception to them.

Yesterday, some of the parents and students stormed the headquarters of the Ghana Education Service (GES) at the Ministries to seek official intervention for their children to write the BECE.

The Director-General of the GES and the Director of Basic Education were not available for comment, but when the Daily Graphic called at the offices of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the engines of the vehicles which are to despatch examination materials to various parts of the country were warming up.

According to the Public Relations Officer of WAEC, Mrs Agnes Tei-Cudjoe, it was not likely that anything could be done for the affected students now, since all was set for the BECE to start on Monday.

Some of the parents the Daily Graphic caught up with at the Nungua Police Station yesterday said about a month ago, Mr Okunnor invited the parents individually to suggest to them to let their children write the BECE next year because their academic performance was not good.

The parents, however, rejected the suggestion and insisted that their children should write the examination and that if they did not perform well, then they would know what to do next.

They said anytime they asked Mr Okunnor whether he had registered the students, he responded in the affirmative so they did not suspect that such a thing could happen.

The parents said the students had been attending classes, even during the vacation period, in preparation for the BECE but just last Friday the proprietor sent a message through the students to the parents, inviting them for a meeting last Monday, during which he told them the truth.

They said Mr Okunnor had explained that he could not meet the WAEC deadline for the registration, as a result of which he was asked to pay a penalty of ¢2 million, and since he did not want to pass on that penalty to parents, it took him a little while to raise that money, by which time the registration had closed.

Story by Kofi Yeboah