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26.05.2004 General News

Achimota School Embroiled In Mystery Computer Deal

By Joy
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The Director general of the Ghana Education Service, Rev. Ama Afo Blay, has directed the Greater Accra regional director of GES to immediately repost the Headmistress of Achimota Basic School, Dorothy Bartlett-Vandapujye for her involvement in a computer deal and other acts of malfeasance at the school.

Rev. Afo Blay has also directed that the contracts of the staff of the school be terminated at the end of this academic year for acts of insubordination.

The action of the director general follows recommendations made by an investigative report on certain issues concerning Achimota Basic School conducted by the office of the national security coordinator.

The National security investigation was commission by the Minister of Education Youth and Sports, Kwadwo Baah Wiredu, after some teachers of the school wrote to him complaining about some acts of malfeasance involving the headmistress and her managerial conduct.

The teachers particularly petitioned the minister to investigate how a computer centre in the school was established and also review the contract covering it.

JOYNEWS investigations into the computer centre deal has revealed that somewhere in 2002 the headmistress of the school introduced an ICT company, known then as Info tech and now Learn Direct Solutions to the executives of the school's Parent Teachers Association to establish a computer laboratory for the school.

The Chairman of the PTA then, Francis Aboagye Agyin told JOYNEWS that they initially declined the offer on the grounds that the PTA had no money to finance the project.

He said the headmistress assured them that Learn Direct was prepared to finance the project with their own resources under an arrangement with the school. He said they later signed an agreement with Learn Direct Solution for commencement of the project.

Under the agreement, Learn direct was to be paid by the PTA through levies charged parents for a period to enable them recover their investment. Sixty-five computers were imported under the deal.

Mr. Agyin said they subsequently made a request to the Ministry of Finance for VAT exemptions for the computers to be imported by the company.

This was granted. But Mr. Agyin said their attention was drawn to some parts of the agreement which were not in the better interest of the school after the current chairman of the PTA joined the executive body.

He said they realised that they were being cheated under the agreement and as such called for re-negotiations. But Learn direct solutions refused. He said the haedmistress did nothing to compel the company, which she introduced to them, to come back to the negotiation table.

The new PTA administration led by its chairman, Aboabgye Agyei which took over from Mr. Agyin's team terminated any further payment to Learn Direct Solutions. Mr. Aboagye told JOYNEWS that his administration did not feel obliged to pay because available documents indicates that the facility belonged to the school.

The termination of the agreement generated heated debates between the PTA and the company and some teachers in the school. The headmistress was accused by some staff members of pushing her personal interest in the whole deal since she seemed to be on the side of Learn Direct Solutions. They subsequently wrote to the education minister who ordered the enquiry.

The National security report, released in February this year, indicted the headmistress in the whole affair. Learn direct has subsequently been asked to pay hundred percent VAT on the imported computers since it has been realized that they are making profit out of the project.

The regional education director has also been asked to review the contract agreement covering the computer centre and take steps to return the supervision of the school to the Achimota School Board.

Meanwhile, Learn Direct Solutions has taken legal action against the Parent Teacher Association for terminating payments to them. The company's chief executive told JOYNEWS in an interview that they see the termination as a breach of the agreement they signed with the immediate past PTA administration.

They are praying the court hearing the case to compel the PTA to pay the amount due them and all arrears that have accrued as a result of the termination. They are also contesting the ownership of the computer centre.

The current PTA has terminated the payment because they say all available documents suggest that the centre belongs to Achimota School and not learn direct solutions.