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21.07.2009 Education

CHASS FIGHT GOV`T OVER FEEDING GRANT… Threatens not to re-open schools

By Isaac Akwetey, Koforidua - Ghanaian Chronicle
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The destiny of fresh students who would be entering the various Senior High schools (SHSs) in the country to continue with their education, hangs in the balance, as the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) has threatened not to reopen schools.

According to information gathered by the paper, the move by the conference comes from that fact that the Ministry of Education had still not shown any concern to addressing some pertinent issues concerning SHS in the country.

Notably among the issues, this reporter gathered, were the upward review of school feeding fees, absorbed fees and the duration of the SHS.

Investigations conducted by the paper revealed that heads of SHS could no longer provide breakfast, lunch and supper for each student at the cost of GP80 per day, considering the current economic conditions in the country.

This reporter gathered that there was a meeting between CHASS and the Ministry somewhere last month, where the former initially proposed GH¢1.50, based on costing from domestic bursars and other factors to the latter, but a consensus was not reached.

What seems to have broken the camel's back, were speculations that the Ministry had decided to peg the new feeding fee at GH¢1, which CHASS described as woefully inadequate.

On absorbed fees and the duration of the SHS, this reporter was further told that the second installment of 50% absorbed fee, which covers payments such as utilities for the 2008/9 by the government, has not be released to the schools.

The National Secretary of CHASS, Mr. Felix Essah-Hienno, would neither confirm nor deny the story when this reporter contacted him.

He rather raised serious concern over the situation, since according to him it beats the imagination of CHASS, as to why pertinent issues such as new feeding fees, absorbed fees and the duration of the SHS, concerning SHS education, which have received sufficient media coverage, have not been addressed.

The National Secretary, who is also the Headmaster of Akwamuman Senior High, said they would find it extremely difficult to accept any feeding fee short of what they had tabled for three square meals a day for the students, considering the current economic situation.

According to Mr.Essah-Hienno, the heads of the various SHS in the country were in a dilemma, since almost all SHS were in the process of preparing their students' bills, and did not know the new feeding fee for next academic year, as the term of the 2008/9 academic year was almost coming to a close.

He called on the Ministry of Education to state its position, as a matter of urgency, since his outfit could not exercise further tolerance.

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