Dark clouds over $400,000 and ¢570 million CID on high alert An alleged financial rip-off involving the Javsalynn Foundation for Youth Renaissance and Development and the Otumfuo Education Fund is unfolding.
The deal started last year when the Javsalynn Foundation advertised in the Friday, May 7, 2004 edition of the Daily Graphic that in conjunction with His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu's International Tertiary Education Sponsorship Initiative, it would search and place interested Ghanaian youth who wished to study undergraduate, graduate and professional courses in American and European universities.
The May 7 advert came with the badge of the Javsalynn Foundation and the picture of Otumfuo Osei Tutu in his royal regalia. But the subsequent adverts on Tuesday October 5, 2004 and Friday October 15, 2004 did not include the Otumfuo's picture and the name of his foundation.
The information bulletin of the foundation clearly states that "this sponsorship scheme which is a unique system with immense benefits requires the foundation to provide a package of 80 per cent of the total cost of stay and study abroad, while the applicant contributes 20 percent."
Based on these promises and perhaps the link with the Otumfuo's Tertiary Education Sponsorship Initiative over 2000 students rushed to take advantage of the Javsalynn's sponsorship package.
The process involved a lot of time and paper work. Applicants must first pass the overseas universities entrance examination, register for and take examinations in English language, quantitative methods and basic aptitudes, attend a screening session, interviews and medical examinations at a cost.
The form costs $50, processing $150, bringing the total to $200 for the form and processing alone. Then all applicants who are invited for the interview are required to pay an additional 385,000 cedis.
The long process and cost notwithstanding, prospective students registered in their numbers with some of them putting the figure at 2000 applicants who as at last May had registered with the foundation and claimed that they each paid $200 for the forms and processing and 285,000 for the interview. Using an estimate of 2000 applicants it brings the total to $400, 000 for the forms and processing and 570 million cedis for the interviews.
Javsalynn's information bulletin categorically states that "there are no refunds for fees in respect of registration for examination, interviews, medical examination and university search and placement."
Some students who disclosed the deal to Public Agenda said after going through the processes and paying all the fees, they realized they were up against some tricks by the owners of the foundation. One applicant, Alfred Nilan Tonuu told this newspaper that after paying all the necessary fees for the processing and passing the examination and interview for six months now he is yet to receive his admission letter. "I am tired of going to the Tudu offices of the Javsalynn Foundation and I don't know how to get my money back", he told this reporter.
Nelson Akwamumor also complained that after going through the process successfully he was asked to pay an additional 70 million cedis, being the cedi equivalent of the 20 percent of his total school fees. According to him when he asked for the actual cost for which he was paying the 20 percent, he was told it was not necessary to disclose it to him. "We were misled because we believed that the Otumfuo Education Foundation was involved", Akwamumor lamented.
Emmanuel Zieka also complained that Javsalynn told him that he could opt for Eastern European schools if he could not pay high cost of western schools. According to him, he agreed and was asked to pay an additional 250 Euros, which he could not afford, so he gave up.
The applicants alleged that out of over 2000 applicants who started the process last year only six have gained admission to Malaysia and South Africa, but the foundations owner, Samuel Arday says so far eight students have made it to foreign universities.
Arday who led a three-man delegation to Public Agenda office, after we called him for his reaction explained that the foundation was properly registered with the Ghana Education Service, the Department of Social Welfare and the Registrar General's Dept.
Asked to explain the extent of Otumfuo's involvement in his foundation, he said, "Otumfuo is a life patron and he has the right to withdraw."
"We have the right to advertise. But we don't have the right to force students to patronize our programmes", he said. He explained further that since the foundation deals with foreign institutions and examinations they had to arrange with the West African Examinations Council to administer the examinations, adding that applicants were aware that the forms, interviews and processing fess were not refundable before starting the search and placement process.
Malik Seidu, the Placement Director of the foundation also explained that the foundation has the right to place any students without prior notice. He said the foreign universities do not issue admission unless the foundation pays the fees on each student. "After receiving the admission, the foundation then calculates the entire cost of education. "So if applicants claim they don't know the total cost of the course they are telling lies", he said.
When the Otumfuo's Education Fund was reached for their comment, they said their fund had nothing to do with Javsalynn Foundation. Manhyia Palace sources told Public Agenda that Otumfuo's assistants have lodged a complaint at the CID headquarters, urging them to investigate the use of his majesty's name by the foundation.
At press time on Thursday when Public Agenda contacted the CID headquarters the officer in charge of the case confirmed that Manhyia had lodged a complaint with them and that they were investigating the case and will soon tell the public the outcome of their investigations.