It is a pity to react to the issues raised by the Ashanti Regional Director of Education, Mr. Kofi Safo Kantanka. The Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi has no axe to grind with the GES, Ministry of Education or the Regional and Metropolitan Directorates of Education. The Church has always believed in a holistic formation of people through education. The means to achieve this is the provision of accessible, affordable and open education to the citizenry. Such mission is founded on the principles of non-discrimination of people.
Education, as one of the socio-religious responsibilities of the Church, is a must for the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi. Every local church is therefore mandated to place education as a priority in evangelization – for evangelization is the holistic development of people to achieve freedom, fairness, justice and finally, salvation. Much as the Church makes the effort to achieve its mandate, it does not do so alone but in collaboration with the society and the State. This calls for a partnership between the State and the Church and this is well understood through the years from the colonial times to the present. This partnership or collaboration between the partners is in mutuality not in servitude.
The Catholic Church in Kumasi is therefore demanding nothing but a respect to the terms of the partnership where the various educational Units have over the years been actively involved in the management of the Unit schools. This demand is not a privilege but a right to the people who also contribute to the governance of the State through taxes and other commitments that the social contract between the citizenry and the government of the people have.
Issues we have raised against the unjust situation in Ashanti Region are not only about St. Jerome Senior High School but also schools under the management of the Catholic Educational Unit. In the case of the St. Jerome, the Church would want to state in no uncertain terms that if anything went wrong with the appointment of a non-Catholic as head of St. Jerome S.H.S., then it is the machination and the uncanny acts and attitude of Mr. Kofi Safo Kantanka. The Church would have ignored the statements of the Regional Director in the Daily Graphic newspaper of February 24, 2015, page 44, but fairness and justice demand a response.
The Directorate of Education and Religious Affairs of the Catholic Archdiocese was informed by the Priest-Chaplain of St. Jerome SHS in April 2014 of the retirement of the Headmaster of the school. Sometime in May and June in 2014, the Directorate scouted for potential replacement as soon as the Headmaster retired.
In May, the Chaplain together with Mr. Bagbin, the immediate retired Municipal Director of Education, Offinso South under whose jurisdiction St. Jerome falls and the Priest Chaplain of St Jerome went to the office of the Regional Director to inform him of the situation on the headship of the school. The Archdiocesan Directorate in May as a follow-up presented Mr. Stephen Manu (DDE), to the Regional Director. The Director advised the Archdiocesan Director and the Chaplain of St. Jerome to add at least two other names for consideration. The Regional Director himself directed that the Church could recommend those of the rank of Assistant Directors of Education. For the record, he gave the example of Ms. Anna Osei Duah as one he himself recommended to take over the headship of St. Joseph Catholic Technical Senior High School at Ahwiren, near Asante Bekwai.
It was on account of the assurance he gave that the two – Mrs. Regina Edusei and Mr. Samuel Twumasi-Ankrah – were suggested for the position. The documents of all three were submitted personally to the Regional Director in May 2014 by the proactive initiative of the Archdiocese and not on the fact that the position had been vacant since May! The Headmaster was at post until the end of the academic year.
We are stating emphatically that the Regional Director has been disrespectful to the Church in our initiative towards a smooth transition of headship. Why would the Archdiocesan Director and Chaplain meet the Regional Director three times after the submission of the documents of the suggested candidates for the position? Why would the Regional Director ignore a simple courtesy of informing the Church that people proposed by the Church on his suggestion were unqualified? Who has been deceptive in this sense? To this day and date, the Regional Director has not found it courteous enough to accord the Church the simple recognition of our role in the management of our schools. What happened between May to October 2014 until Mr. Seth Boadu Kwakye was appointed as Headmaster of the school? Would it have been wrong for Mr. Kantanka to inform the Church of the appointment of Mr Seth Boadu as the preferred head over the candidates presented by the Church?
The Church does not know and has not seen Mr. Seth Boadu Kwakye in person. All we demand is that we are partners in education delivery and management. It is not a privilege that any State organization or an individual grants but it is our right and we demand from the recalcitrant Mr. Safo Kantanka.
Why would Mr. Kofi Safo Kantanka set up a panel including Offinso Municipal Director of Education, Frank Musa, to reprimand Fr. Peter Kwasi Sarpong for his concern and welfare of a school built with the sweat and toil of the Church? In that meeting, Mr. Safo Kantanka made it cynically clear that he would impose a non-Catholic on the school and even dared the Church to challenge him.
The paying of salaries of staff by the State is not a privilege; it is a right of every citizen to enjoy the benefits of our social contract with the State. It is therefore not to an individual like Mr. Safo Kantanka to surmise that the payment of the salaries is a ticket to the total control of unit schools. We are citizens of Ghana and we demand that we are accorded a total respect to the partnership agreement. No State apparatus can take their right from any citizen in a democratic dispensation. The Church has been tolerant with the unhealthy situation in Ashanti Region since the assumption of Mr. Safo Kantanka as Regional Director of Education. We want to reiterate that he should be called to order by the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education as soon as possible.
Another issue of concern is the arbitrary transfer of teachers under the pretext of rationalization. As I speak, St. Joseph Primary School at Ashanti New Town is on hot iron. Two teachers have been asked to go to another school because the school is overstaffed. Yet a teacher, from Atasemanso, the wife of a police officer, has been sent to the school. This is clear evidence of social injustice and corruption from the Regional and Metropolitan Directorates. How do you replace teachers of an overstaffed school with the same number of teachers sent away?
Please find enclosed the fishy deals of the Metropolitan Directorate in their dealings in our schools. How could Mr. Kwesi Esson Nunoo, Head of Supervision of Kumasi Metro Education Office, log with two different Circuit Supervisors from Agric (Mr. Louis Boachie) and Tanoso (Mr. Faucett Kwakwa) when St. Joseph does not fall under the jurisdiction of Agric and Tanoso? Let the public judge our concern. This is just one example.
What is humane about transferring teachers in the middle of the academic year, precisely the second term of a school year, when teachers would need to find accommodation, schools and other services for themselves and their families? Let social justice and fairness drive the Regional and Metropolitan Directorate of Education. All positions and human life are transient but at the end our names and actions will outlive us. We believe God is watching us all.
Kumasi Archdiocesan Education & Religious Affairs Directorate
February 25, 2015
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