A committee set up by the Ministry of Education to investigate allegations of corruption in the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) has said the school placement is “shrouded in secrecy” and “not transparent.”
A report by the six-member committee, which is exclusively available to The Fourth Estate, said while the initial mandate of the Committee was to investigate every activity connected to the placement system, “the Committee was limited in scope because we could not have access to the life [sic] system to probe into the real processes of placement.”
It said the opaque nature of the system lends itself to corruption.
“The risk of the system especially corruption risk is high due to the secrecy nature of the placement,” the report says.
The Ministry of Education launched an investigation into allegations of school corruption in the placement last year, but the report has since not been published nor its recommendations implemented. The investigation was instigated by an alert from the National Security Ministry over allegations of corruption in the school placement system.
Information about the committee and its work became public only after The Fourth Estate investigations into the 2022 school placement fraud. The investigation uncovered how a syndicate sold admission slots to students who wanted placement into Ghana’s most sought-after senior high schools.
In one instance, the syndicate demanded and took GHS8,500 to change placement from Accra Wesley Girls to Aggrey Memorial AME Zion School. The syndicate also demanded and took GHS 11,000 and changed placement from Aburi Presbyterian Senior High School to Mfantsiman Girls Senior High School.
Our investigation revealed that Rachel, a member of the syndicate 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.
Access to protocol placement in category “A” schools was limited to the Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, and the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa.
While he was still in office, Prof Opoku-Amankwa told the Committee that he was logged out of the system after he traced a paid placement that was made through the minister’s access.
According to the report, “He [Prof Opoku-Amankwa] sighted [sic] an example in one of the cases that was reported that an amount of GHS7000 had been charged to place someone at Wesley Girls or Achimota School. A probe using the log report on the system showed that it was done with the Hon. Minister’s access which was being handled by Ms. Vera Amoah.”
Shortly after that, Prof. Opoku-Amankwah told the committee that “his permission to the log port on the placement system was blocked and so could not trace and act on complaints that came in thereafter.”
With Prof. Amankwa removed, it meant that only Dr. Adutwum had access to the system and could effect changes or placements for the category “A” schools.
Prof Opoku-Amankwa was not the only person who did not have access to the log report to be able to follow up on paid placements.
Richard Appiah Kubi, who worked at the Free SHS Secretariat, told the Committee that a parent had approached him for placement but just a day later, the parent said he had paid someone GHS 6,000 for the placement to be done.
“The person did not disclose the identity of the person who took the money and he indicated that he could not check who did that particular placement because he did not have access to check the log report on the system to determine who did that,” the report said.
An assistant research officer in charge of procurement at the Free SHS secretariat, Mohammed Kamel Issa, was given access to the category C schools to help resolve some of the placement issues. But two weeks after the placement started, Kamal’s access was blocked.
He told the committee that when he asked why his access was removed, he was told the instruction to block his access came from the minister. He said he was told the minister wanted to meet him over the matter, but the meeting was called off at the instance of the minister.
The Committee noted that changes were made to the initial access to the computerised system while placement was still ongoing, though none of these were documented.
Mark Sosu Mensah, Coordinator for the CSSPS, told the Committee that, unlike the previous years, access to call logs in the placement system was limited in the 2022 placement.
“The call log on the system was limited this year so it made it impossible for him as a Coordinator to even follow up on a complaint and check whose access was used to do the placement for which the allegation was being made.”
CSSPS consultant fails to give Committee data for investigation
The Committee said it requested the consultant to provide the following:
- Data on all placements in category “A” and “B” schools (both automatic and manual) to include the placement trail and log reports
- Pre and post Placement vacancy declaration
- Report on the 30% equity measure
- Additional vacancies declared in the category and B schools
- Pincodes: Number of pin codes generated, sold and utilised.
The Committee said the consultant refused to submit any of the information requested.
While the Consultant, Daniel Sarpong Duah, told the Committee that the “system cannot generate live reports for the Committee”, because it was shut down, the spokesperson of the Ministry for Education, Kwasi Kwarteng, was able to tell instances where the former Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Prof Opoku-Amankwa, approved placement into some category “A” schools. This was almost a year later.
Mr. Kwarteng’s revelation was to fight off claims by the former Director General that he had been logged out of the system not long after placement had started in 2022.
Due to the challenges identified, the Committee said there was the need for an independent person to monitor the placement ”when it goes live and report independently to the Hon. Minister through the Chief Director.”
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Sad that this is happening at the detriment of young lives. All these is at the cost of inclusion and merit. Public place of work and now schools are becoming a preserve of the rich. From public agencies like GES, Security and Armed Forces, Ports and Harbour just to name a few to Education, the rich are prioritised, meritocracy is thrown out of the window and the plight of the disabled and minority groups are far from being heard.
To right to get quality education is no longer a right. Some schools continue to receive great investments from the government making them better and more subscribed while others are left to rot and labelled B,C,D and E. The big question is it’s the son or daughter of the less privileged who end up there whiles the rich but their way through.
In certain democracies efforts are being made to make inclusion and access a right and not a privilege. We on the other hand are being robbed by the very people with the legal mandate to make things happen.
Thank you Fourth Estate. What else can you do except to report and bring these things to light. Let’s leave posterity to decide if it’s fair to assume some people to be more human and Ghanaian than others.