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28.10.2004 General News

Minister bemoans lack of transparency in SSS admissions

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Cape Coast, Oct. 28, GNA - The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Ms Elisabeth Ohene, on Wednesday expressed concern about the lack of transparency in admissions in second cycle schools in the country.

Ms Ohene, who was opening the 42nd annual conference of the Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) at Cape Coast said due to the mistrust of parents in the admission process, most of them unduly pressurised government officials, chiefs, opinion leaders and priests among others to seek admission for their wards.

"Parents and guardians resort to the 'protocol list' for admissions because they are not convinced that the process is transparent or equitable," she declared, saying, "This has become a traumatic period for all of us in the education sector."

She expressed the hope, however, that the introduction of the computerised system for admissions would make the process more transparent, engender confidence among Ghanaians and remove the annual ritual of pressure that accompanied admissions.

The Minister also observed that there were too many imaginative items on school bills and stressed that it was unacceptable for heads to add things to bills that had not been approved by the Ghana Education Service.

"Even though the Ministry will like to leave heads of schools to manage, we have the responsibility to listen to parents and guardians when they bring their complaints to us," she stressed. She pointed out that when heads stuck to the approved fees it would be clear for all Ghanaians to know that the rate of increase in fees since this government took over four years ago was much lower than what had been occurring since 1992.

On infrastructure development the Minister, said government was committed to it and that the first phase of the upgrading of 31 secondary schools was nearing completion and 25 others would be catered for in the second phase, which would take off next year and appealed to heads to cooperate with the Ministry to ensure early completion of the projects.

The minister also urged CHASS to come out on the allegation of corruption against some of its members and reassure parents by stemming the practice if it truly existed.

On discipline, Ms Ohene gave the heads the assurance that her Ministry would support heads to instil discipline in students "since discipline brings about good results".

Ms Ohene announced that a government white paper on the new education reforms would be issued next week and hinted that the welfare of teachers featured prominently in it.

She appealed to heads to ensure that their schools were "alcohol free zones" and also the practice of occultism and other negative behaviours were rooted out to promote healthy atmosphere for teaching and learning.

The President of CHASS, Mr Bolina Saaka said the attention of Ghanaians on education had declined, adding that people are not prepared to sacrifice towards quality education and urged all stakeholders to support the sector.

The Regional Chairman of CHASS, Mr Crosby Kofi Eshun reminded Ghanaians that education was an indispensable enterprise and must therefore be given the due attention that it deserved to help build the nation.

Mr Eshun, who is also the headmaster of Mfantsipim School, appealed to all to help stem some negative practices including alcoholism, occultism, and pornography among others in secondary schools.

Professor Emmanuel Adow Obeng, Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, who chaired the function appealed to the heads not to shelve the outcome of the conference but make its recommendations available to others.

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