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24.10.2005 Press Review

No School Fees, But What Fees Are These?

By Public Agenda
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The Minister of Education and Sports, Honourable Osafo Maafo, has been shouting himself hoarse about parents paying school fees as being a thing of the past. Not too long ago, the Minister announced gleefully that government was getting herculean and picking up the bill for school fees. Parents heaved a sigh of relieve and thumbs-upped government. In the main, government would pay ¢52,000 for pupils in schools.

The dust that engulfed the whole of Ghana arising out of the announcement made by the Elephant Group of Companies, (NPP), led government, has hardly settled and some parents are learning not to swallow what politicians say hook, line, and sinker. Some parents have placed a question mark, as big as an elephant, on Osafo Maafo's sugar-laced statements. Is there a truth in them or are they naked, crude truth, half truth and deceit of public officer.

Last Thursday, 13 October, members of the Parents Teacher Association of the Panama School at Kokomlemle attended a PTA meeting at the school. It turned out to be a gross erosion of Minister Maafo's mouth-matics. The parents were shocked to learn at the meeting that government was not bearing the full brunt of the school fees issue.

A group of complaining parents who spoke to me said the Panama School, headed by a Mrs. Brocke, had slapped some fees on them. According to them, they were told that government had paid only ¢30,000 out of ¢52,000. The balance of ¢22,000 would have to be borne by the parents.

Additionally, those registering for the BECE, would pay ¢45,000. Similarly, a whopping ¢25,000 would be paid for all BECE registering candidates. For what? Four passport size photographs. What even stunned the parents was that they are to pay ¢4,000 each for envelopes! To worsen matters, a parent who claimed he was also a teacher, voluminously accepted payment of the ¢22,000 balance that government has yet to pay. He called it "laudable idea." Other parents were not only stunned, a few were so shocked by this nonsense that they became dumb-founded and could not contribute anything during the rest of the meeting. By some calculation, every parent, including the teacher who sickly supported the fees that had to be paid, all were defiled of an amount each of ¢104,000. They paid. They had to pay.

Someone has said that, "if you think education is expensive, try ignorance." The bulk of the parents who attended the meeting were from Ayawaso East Constituency, known to be a deprived community, where in recent times, the Ministry of Works and Housing is distributing free malaria and fever to the residents. The Ministry of Works and Housing has stubbornly refused, since 2001, to construct the remaining part of "the Nima-Mamobi Gutter Defence Wall". In a letter dated Monday, 5th February 2001, the MP for East Ayawaso Constituency, Dr. Mustapha Ahmed, a dentist, in a letter in 2001 told the then Honourable Kwame Bartels, Minister of Works and Housing that

"I wish to draw your attention to the problems that the drainage system in Nima-Mamobi, which runs from Kawokudi Junction through Paloma Restaurant to the Korle Largoon is creating for the people in my constituency. The first part of the Mamobi drainage which was awarded to the erstwhile State Construction Company (SCC) was completed, but the second phase, which runs from the Mamobi bridge to Kawokudi junction has been abandoned.

People whose houses are close to the drainage stand a high risk of losing their lives and property during heavy floods. There are reported cases, in which flood waters of the drain destroyed some houses and property, killed people and even damaged vehicles. Some mothers also reported that their children fell in the drain and were injured.

The construction of the remaining part of the drainage system will go a long way to solve the mounting sanitation problems of Nima and Mamobi.

In view of the menace being caused by the drain, I shall be very grateful if you would treat the construction of the remaining part of the drain as a matter of urgency to save life and property.

I look forward to your quick response and a timetable for the implementation of our strategies for THE NIMA-MAMOBI GUTTER "DEFENCE WALL".

As a resident of Nima and Mamobi, I (John Abaah) took up the matter.

Arriving at the MW&H in the evening at 4.pm, 17th October, the receptionists in room 7, received me well with deception. First, they wanted to know what I wanted. I told them I did not need any front-man or woman. Then, he said I did not qualify to see any of the Deputy Ministers. I countered with a very clever, over powering statement that is as dangerous as Kathrina and Rita and Tsunami combined. Then, they found a way of abolishing me and asking me to return at 5.pm. I acquiesced. The problem of transportation and traffic congestion in Accra caught me. I was late. And that is why I love Public Agenda. Boldly written on their Notice Board is this cryptic statement: "There is only one sin in journalism: being late." What an editor! Well, but this was news follow-up. Having come at 5.30 pm, the gentle, beautiful, persuasive, two young receptionists, dismissed me again to come "probably tomorrow."

"At what time?" I asked.

"Any time." They said. As usual, with my simple, humble, background I left. Full of ire, war, and of course, a gentle smile.

Whatever is happening in this country, nobody knows. The MW&H and distributing free malaria and fever to my people. Can't I complain? And if a Mrs. Brocke, whose husband is in a disciplinary institution like Ghana's Army, can flout the very words of a loud-mouthed Osafo Maafo of a Minister, what else can I offer my people of Nima, Mamobi, Pig Farm, Luga, 441, New Town, Kokomlemle, and where else?

Blood? No!

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