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General News Mon, 2 Jan 2006

Govt asked to set up monitoring body for capitation grant

Accra, Jan. 2, GNA - Challenging Heights, a child based advocacy group, on Monday called on the Government to set up a special investigative and or monitoring body to monitor the utilisation of the capitation grant until such a time that Ghanaians understood their rights and responsibilities under the scheme.

It said the mere announcement of the availability of the grant and its wholesale implementation was creating the impression that parents had no obligation under the scheme.

"This is a likely recipe for confrontation and exploitation among parents and school authorities. To forestall this, Ghana Education Service (GES) must initiate public education for parents and guardians on their rights and responsibilities under the capitation scheme," Challenging Heights said in a statement signed by its Executive Director James Kofi Annan.

The statement said without effective supervision, the scheme could be opened to abuse with head teachers taking advantage of the ignorance of the people to charge fees covered under the capitation grant. While commending the GES on the actions taken on the nine heads of schools for charging unauthorised fees, it said the demotion of the culprits was too less a punishment.

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"This is a case of depriving children of their fundamental rights to education, and the perpetrators of such acts do not deserve their certificate of practice. Head teachers or anybody found to be culpable deserved nothing less than outright dismissal from the Service. This is one sure way of removing the obstacles on the way of children's right to education," the statement said.

The statement appealed to the Ministry of Education to ensure that the grants were released on time, even before schools re-opened to avoid such unpleasant situation of heads being forced to send children home. "The nation cannot afford the 'no money' syndrome in the disbursement of the capitation grant. This is our opportunity to fulfilling Article 25 Clause One (a) of the 1992 Constitution which imposes an obligation on the nation to make basic education free, compulsory, and available to all children."

Meanwhile, Challenging Heights, has asked the GES to step up its supervisory role, especially surprise school inspections, saying weak supervision had led to the misuse of school resources, charging of unauthorised fees, increased absenteeism, absence of teachers' lesson notes, poor record keeping, general lack of serious academic work and ultimately, poor Basic Education Certificate Examination/ Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination results.

The statement expressed the hope that the Ministry of Education, GES, District Assemblies and indeed every Ghanaian, would work to make sure that all girls and boys in Ghana could go to school, stay in school and learn in the New Year.

Source: GNA
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