General News of Wednesday, 10 May 2017
Government-assisted senior high schools (SHSs) in the three regions of the north are unable to reopen for the third term of the 2016/2017 academic year because of lack of funds to feed students.
Public sector SHSs across the country reopened for the third term on May 4, 2017 but those in the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions remain closed because education authorities said for three-and-half terms, the government had not paid feeding grants to the schools.
The development had led to the schools owing their suppliers huge amounts of money.
This is not the first time SHSs in the three regions could not reopen at the beginning of a new term due to arrears in the payment of feeding grant to the schools. The last one occurred in the 2014/2015 academic year .
The Northern Regional Director of Education, Alhaji Mohammed Haroon who confirmed this to the Daily Graphic in Tamale explained that the previous government left behind arrears of two-and-half terms before exiting power, while the current government was in arrears for one term.
He said it was, therefore, the responsibility of the government to pay the arrears to the schools to enable them to reopen for the third term.
With the development, he said the schools would remain closed for the third term since suppliers insist that they could not continue to supply until they were paid their arrears.
Alhaji Haroon made a passionate appeal to the Northern Regional Minister, Mr Salifu Sa-eed, as a matter of urgency to do something about the situation since the students were losing contact hours.
Decision not to reopen
Alhaji Haroon stated that the decision not to reopen was taken by the Conference of Heads of Assisted Senior High Schools (CHASS) following the position taken by the suppliers.
He added that CHASS took that decision because if they reopen and the students are not fed well, they may blame the school heads.
Alhaji Haroon said some of the suppliers called at his office to complain that they were indebted to the banks and as a result the banks had refused to extend further credit to them.
Besides, the suppliers said interests on loans they took from the banks continued to build up.
Alhaji Haroon disclosed that he was in discussion with a group of young farmers called the Sisa Agro-Trade Investment who said they could supply the schools with food items on credit.
Meanwhile, a source at the Scholarship Secretariat told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday that efforts were being made to pay the arrears.