The Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, has on two occasions failed to appear before the Education Committee of Parliament to respond to allegations concerning the scandal that rocked the placement of students into senior high schools in 2022.
According to the Deputy Ranking Member of the Education Committee, Dr Clement Apaak, the Minister gave an excuse for his absence in parliament on Thursday, February 2, and was subsequently re-scheduled to reappear on February 11, 2023.
The education minister failed to honour the second invitation by parliament.
“Unfortunately, the minister is yet to appear before the committee. But I know that the leadership of the committee has extended an invitation to [him] on two occasions. We expected the minister to appear before the committee but he could not attend because he was engaged in other activities,” Deputy Ranking Member of the Education Committee, Dr Clement Apaak laments.
The Builsa South legislator says he finds the excuses “untenable and unacceptable” and adds that Dr Adutwum has failed to honour similar invitations in the past.
“Even before the [school] placement [scandal], there was an issue about some World Bank project called the GALOP [Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project] where the committee extended an invitation to the minister but he failed to appear. I think the minister ought to treat the Education Committee with some respect.
“Ghanaians are beginning to have the impression that the parliamentary select committee is not up and doing. I think it is unfortunate to draw that conclusion, given what I know,” Dr Apaak said.
Dr. Apaak blamed the leadership of the committee for tolerating the many excuses from Dr. Adutwum.
When The Fourth Estate asked about the implications of failure to appear before a parliamentary committee, Dr Apaak said there could be sanctions. However, it is only the chairperson of the committee who can impose these sanctions.
“This is where I have a challenge with the way the system is set up. Because it is usually the governing party that is in the leadership of such committees. They also have the tendency to be protective of their party. They have the propensity to be less assertive and demanding of ministers of state and I think that is very unfortunate because it doesn’t serve our democracy well,’’ he added.
However, the Chairman of the Education Committee, Kwabena Amankwa Asiamah, told The Fourth Estate that Dr Adutwum had been out of the country on the occasions he was expected before the committee.
“We did a lot of meetings in which the education minister was not in the country, but we are trying to fix a date for him. We have been given assurances that he will meet the committee, but because of the election of our colleagues in the NDC, it’s been difficult to plan on a weekend. So, we are planning to do that just after their election,” Mr. Asiamah explains.
The Fourth Estate launched an investigation into some allegations of corruption in Ghana’s 2022 computerised school selection and placement system (CSSPS). The investigation uncovered how a syndicate sold admission slots to students who wanted placement in Ghana’s most sought-after senior high schools.
The syndicate demanded and took GH₵ 8,500 and GH₵ 11,000 to change placement from Accra Wesley Girls to Aggrey Memorial Zion School and from Aburi Presbyterian Senior High School to Mfantsiman Girls Senior High School.
After the exposé, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Dr. Eric Nkansah, at a meeting to announce the 2023 school placement, assured the public that measures have been put in place to prevent corruption in the 2023 school placement. He, however, refused to give details of the specific security measures the institution had put in place.
Not much changed in 2023
The Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service assured the public that they would strictly adhere to the rules governing the Computerized School Placement System (CSSPS) during the 2023 school placement process.
Although The Fourth Estate could not confirm money exchanging hands when it visited the GNAT Hall during the 2023 placement into senior high schools, some parents alleged that not much had changed after the exposé.
A parent, who asked for anonymity, said while he had been at the centre for two days, nobody approached him for money, but some parents complained to him that money was exchanging hands for students to be placed in higher grade schools.
The Fourth Estate received a voice note from a teacher in one of the basic schools which revealed that some persons visited some basic schools to influence parents and teachers to pay money to influence the placement of their wards. This was before the school placement was announced.
Additionally, The Fourth Estate grabbed screenshots of some persons who advertised category A schools’ slots for sale on social media platforms.
In spite of these alleged infractions, the Ministry of Education described the 2023 placement system as a successful one.
The Fourth Estate through its investigation had revealed that the Minister of Education and the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service were the only two individuals who had access to CSSPS passwords to Category A schools.
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