Nine heads of basic schools in the Accra metropolis who overcharged the registration fees for Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE) have been demoted to the rank of teachers.
With immediate effect, the heads of Kotobabi Two, Kotobabi Four, Kotobabi 15, Kotobabi 13 junior high schools (JHS), Abavana JHS and four others in the Kanda Cluster of Schools will become teachers.
Two other heads who tried to remedy their wrongdoing, however, escaped the wrath of the ministry and the Ghana Education Service (GES) with caution.
They are the heads of the Garrison Educational Centre in Burma Camp and the Unity JHS at Mamobi.
Although the Ministry of Education (MoE) had approved GH¢17.40 as fees for the registration, some of the schools had been charging between GH¢60 to GH¢150.
Explaining the ministry’s decision, a Deputy Minister of Education, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, said the ministry decided to carry out its independent investigations into increasing media reportage about high BECE registration fees being charged by some headteachers.
According to figures from the MoE, the BECE registration charged by WAEC per candidate is GH¢58. But the government has absorbed 70 per cent. This works up to GH¢40.60, leaving GH¢17.40 for parents to pay.
For the 2014/ 2015 academic year the government paid GH¢17.5 million as subsidy for more than 400,000 pupils.
Behaviour defeats subsidy purpose
After the investigations, the heads of the schools who were found culpable and the Metropolitan Director of Education were summoned together with the Director General of the GES to a meeting yesterday at the MoE where the minister said they admitted charging between GH¢60 to GH¢150.
“The conduct of the school heads defeats the purpose of the government subsidy because parents do not feel the impact as they were forced to pay way above the approved fees.
“These monies do not go to WAEC and only the heads know what they do with those illegal fees they collect,” Mr Ablakwa said.
For the school heads who were cautioned, the deputy minister said, it was because they had showed evidence of refunding the extra fees to the pupils, but warned that they would suffer a similar fate if they repeat the offence.
At the meeting, some of the heads gave the explanation that they needed to pay for passport photographs, and information technology services during the processing of the candidates’ details to WAEC.
He said having taken that into consideration, the directive to the schools was that no Ghanaian child should pay more than GH¢30.
“We have asked the Ghana Education Service (GES) to send circulars to that effect.
“Additionally, all parents and guardians who have paid more than GH¢30 should go for a refund immediately.”
He said the ministry would be going round to ensure that the illegal fees were refunded to parents.
“This is just the beginning and we have activated our complaints centre. If we receive any complaints from now onwards, they will receive immediate action because this is becoming too rampant,” he said.
The hike in the BECE registration fee is a practice prevalent in some private schools, but it appears it is becoming pervasive in some public schools.
Asked if the heads of private schools could also receive sanctions for the fee hikes, the minister said that could not happen now, since the ministry did not regulate the fees of private schools.
He, however, said the government subsidy covered pupils in all basic public and private schools.
Last month, the headmistress of the Otinibi Basic School in the La Nkwantanang-Madina Municipality, near Accra was asked to step aside for overcharging the BECE registration fee.
She was made to refund monies in excess of GH¢50 to parents.
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