The immediate past Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Prof Opoku-Amankwa, says he and the Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, should take responsibility in the case of any fraud associated with protocol placement of students into senior high schools.
“If there is fraud in the matter, then I, as the Director-General, and the minister, should take responsibility. I fully accept and agree, but I knew that I was part of it and I wanted to actually make sure that there were no challenges with it,” he told The Fourth Estate in an interview.
The two are the only persons with the passwords to effect placement to category A schools. Although the minister of education said the GES Director-General’s office and the Ministry of Education were the two institutions which had access to Category A schools, our checks revealed that full access to such protocol placement and all category A schools were limited to only two individuals.
“In reality, we have two; the Director-General’s office and the Ministry of Education. Last year, those are the two people with access,” Dr Adutwum told The Fourth Estate in an interview.
“If only two people have access to category A schools, you are able to tell who did the placement for a certain student so if these allegations that a parent has paid money, and this student has found himself in this school, you go into the system and the IT people are able to tell which of the two people did the placement so it becomes much easier,” the minister said.
He added: “And you know this is the area [category A schools] where people are scamming parents because they are the most desirable schools.”
A memo that was circulated within the Ministry of Education on the 2022 placement shows that only the Director-General of the GES, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, and the Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, had full access to the category A schools.
This means people like Rachel, one of the 8 suspects standing trial for the school placement fraud are able to place students either have links to the ministry or the schools. We could not get evidence of her links to the schools, but we established she had links to the Ministry of Education. She was in charge of the canteen at the Ministry of Education until the canteen was shut down for refurbishment.
Our sources at the Ministry of Education also said Rachel constantly called some of them asking for placement vacancies.
Whatever her source of vacancy was, only two persons; the minister or the GES Director-General had the passwords for placement into category A schools.
Prof Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa requests for investigations and the obstacles
During the 2022 placement process, Professor Opoku-Amankwa, who was unhappy about corruption in the placement, wrote to the National Intelligence Bureau and the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service to investigate allegations of corruption in the placement process. Part of his letter to the two-state security agencies reads:
“In some instances, fingers have been pointed at top officials of the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service/Computerised School Selection and Placement System and the Free SHS Secretariat. Management of Ghana Education Service will be grateful if your office could launch a full-scale investigation into these allegations to establish their authenticity or otherwise.”
The Fourth Estate understands that the NIB initially agreed and started the investigation, but exactly one month later, it wrote to the GES asking: “You may redirect your request to the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service for the necessary action.”
The GES had already also petitioned the police CID the same day it wrote to the NIB.
The Fourth Estate sources say these investigations were stopped by “powers from above.” Prof. Opoku-Amankwa could not pursue this matter to the end. He was removed from office that same year.
When The Fourth Estate concluded our investigations and wanted the police involved in arresting the perpetrators, the CID headquarters agreed to work with us. A team from the Financial Forensic Unit was assigned to work with us. But there was a sudden withdrawal of the team and we were directed to report the matter to the Ministries Police Station.
In all, the police have arrested eight people in connection with the school placement fraud uncovered by The Fourth Estate. None of them is from the Education Ministry, GES or the Free SHS Secretariat as mentioned in Professor Opoku-Amankwa’s letters to the CID and NIB. It is also evident, that Rachel could not have placed a student into Mfantsiman Girls without the approval of the Minister of Education or the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, the only two individuals with passwords to Category A schools.
How the names of students got to the education minister or the GES Director General for placement into category A school is easy to find, according to the Minister’s explanation. It is, however, not clear if the police will follow this case to the top since there is evidence that the top hierarchy of the security agencies failed to investigate the matter when the GES Director-General requested the investigation.
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