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14.10.2005 General News

Govt urged to make report on STEP Fund public

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Kumasi, Oct. 14, GNA - The Government has been urged to make the report on investigations conducted into alleged misappropriation of the Skills Training and Employment Placement (STEP) Project funds at the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment last year public. Mrs Diana Takyiaw Agbeko, Managing Director of Arise and Shine Professional Institute in Kumasi who made the call, said failure of the project was due to lack of effective monitoring and inadequate start-up capital to trainees as a result of the alleged misappropriation of the project funds by some officials at the Ministry.

Addressing a press conference in Kumasi on Wednesday in reaction to media reports that the STEP programme has been suspended Mrs Agbeko accused some officials at the Ministry for sabotaging the programme, which had the potential to equip many youth with employable skills. She said due to the alleged misappropriation of funds, the Ministry still owed some service providers who took part in the training of the youth several millions of cedis even though the trainees had passed out over a year ago.

Mrs Agbeko said the Ministry owed the Institute over 36 million cedis for training it provided to 65 trainees on vocational skills under the STEP programme.

She said because of the alleged misappropriation of funds, the Ministry denied most of the youth training while most of those who were able to receive training had still not received the start-up capital promised them.

Mrs Agbeko said most of the trainees who were given the start-up capital had found themselves back on the streets selling because the money given to them was too meagre that it could not help them to start their own businesses.

She called for a review of the programme to enable the youth and the country benefit from the project.

Mrs Agbeko called for the establishment of industries and factories to employ the trainees instead of the start-up capital.

She stressed the need for a conscious effort to promote vocational skills training that would be appreciated by the youth. Mrs Agbeko appealed to the Ghana Education Service to place vocational and technical schools on the computer selection system to admit and train most of the BECE candidates.

She called for positive and effective sensitization on the prospects of skills and other professional training to enable parents and guardians as well as the youth appreciate its importance for their future.