CHASS apologises on members’ behalf


The Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS) has apologised to the public for the collection of unapproved fees from first-year students by some heads of senior high schools (SHSs).

In view of their regret over their actions, CHASS said, the heads had credited the accounts of the affected students with the unapproved fees.

“We concede that some of our colleagues may have made some mistakes in the course of the implementation of some policies. We, therefore, unreservedly apologise on behalf of our colleagues who may have erred in one way or the other,” the President of CHASS, Mr Samuel Ofori-Adjei, said at a press conference in Accra yesterday. 

He deplored the attitude of those heads who had been involved in the act, since all heads had been cautioned by the conference against engaging in such acts. 

Complaints unit
Shortly after the release of SHS placements, there were reports about the collection of unapproved fees by some heads of schools. 

The situation prompted the Ministry of Education to set up a complaints secretariat in November 2013 to receive complaints on illegal fees collection, grievances and criticisms from the public for redress.

By January 11, this year, the unit had received about 300 complaints from parents and guardians.

Early release of fees
Mr Ofori-Adjei called on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to come up with the approved fees before schools reopened for the first term of every academic year.

According to him, the approved fees for this academic year were released to heads on October 30, 2013 after students had started going to school in September.

“We implement the policies formulated by the Ministry of Education through the GES. By our calling, we operate with the process, the system, the environment and the people.

“As a human institution, in the performance of our duties we are bound to make mistakes,” he said. 

Erroneous impressions
As heads of SHSs, Mr Ofori-Adjei said, they were faced with daunting challenges on a daily basis “and we have tried to manage our schools with very limited resources”.

He said sometimes heads found it very difficult to provide basic teaching and learning materials for teachers and students to perform their duties.

He said the constraints faced by schools included unpaid absorbed fees and feeding grants, inadequate supply of government textbooks and unnecessary harassment by EOCO with regard to school terms fees.

The CHASS President said as a result of unpaid absorbed fees, for instance, “schools are finding it difficult to pay utility bills, particularly electricity and water which students use very much”.

“Sanitation expenditure is also a big problem due to the regular lifting of solid and liquid waste. We wish to state that schools pay commercial rates for electricity and water, although they are not commercial or profit making entities,” he said.

Feeding fee
Mr Ofori-Adjei said the GH¢2.20 feeding fee per student per day was used to buy food, firewood, gas and cooking utensils, pay VAT and withholding tax, adding that the feeding fee was approved in September 2012, although economic conditions had dramatically changed since then.

“The rise in fuel prices, increase in utilities and other maintenance costs and recent adjustments in VAT have greatly reduced the value of the feeding fee, which is used to provide three square meals for adolescent students,” he said.

Communication
With regard to the channel of communication between the Ministry of Education and CHASS, he said that should be done through the GES and not through the press.

Mr Ofori-Adjei said the public must know that heads of second-cycle schools had an important role in educating and shaping the future leaders of the country and, therefore, they needed respect from the public.

“Any attempt to ridicule them in the media unnecessarily will definitely have a negative impact on discipline in SHSs,” he said.

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