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Unapproved fees at Jirapa Saint Francis Girls Senior High School

E Duz Naana Opoku-Agyemang, Minister of Education

Thu, 7 Jul 2016 Source: Dakura, Gladys

The government and for that matter, the Ghana Education Service(GES) must pay a very special and particular attention to all senior high schools in the country-otherwise the cry or the attempt to let secondary education reach every nook and cranny of the country will be a day dream as some unscrupulous headmasters and headmistresses across the country are making the government very unpopular with the introduction of what has been described as ‘unplanned’ fees for all boarding students in our senior high schools; for both continuing and ‘freshers’.

The reason is that while the government is doing its best by the introduction of ‘progressive free secondary education’ as is founded in the 1992 constitution, this wonderful and laudable attempt is being thwarted but some policy implementers especially headmasters and headmistresses in some schools.

If not checked, it is going to harm many of our children especially the girl-child now that we are fighting early and child marriages across the country.

A case in point is the Saint Francis Girls Senior High School in the Upper West Region; a new Headmistress in the person of Madam Rosemary Nyekpieo who has recently taken over the headship of the school has introduced new draconian fees and all parents who have their wards in St. Francis Senior High School are reeling under the sun to be able to meet the new unapproved fees brought into being by the new headmistress of the school.

St Francis Senior High School has a population of about one thousand one hundred and eighty five (1,185) students and it is an all girls senior high school with very good reputation in the country.

With the coming of the new headmistress, besides the government approved fee of seven hundred and fifty (Ghc.750) the new headmistress has also introduced the following which has affected seriously the ability of parents and students to meet such commitments: She has introduced Physical Education kits fees-of which-each of the over one thousand students are required under her newly found “law” to pay thirty Ghana cedis (Ghc 30.00).

She has also introduced the Jubilee anniversary cloth which also a requirement that every student is to pay one hundred and thirty five Ghana cedis (Ghc 135.00).And students have been paying without they being supplied with the anniversary cloths and she sometimes cooks stories why after payment students cannot get their anniversary cloths.

This must be investigated with all the seriousness it deserves!

And as if this is not enough she has also introduced Exeat Cards which are sold to each student at the cost of eight Ghana cedis (8.00) before they will be allowed to visit town, a situation until now was very free since time immemorial in our all secondary school institutions.

The feeding of students has also been a very huge problem in the school. The situation as it prevails now the government gives it part of the bargain and the school also complements the government. The Headmistress is found wanton with issues affecting students feeding since transparency is never part of her life

The new Headmistress, Madam Rosemary Nyekpieo, has also created a conflict of interest situation as a public officer for herself.

The 1992 constitution talks about CONFLICT OF INTEREST and mentioned at article 284 that “A public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts or is likely to conflict with the performance of the functions of his office”.

Madam Rosemary Nyekpieo, the Headmistress of St Francis Girls Senior High School engages in conflict of interest situation as she is the main supplier of all the school’s needs. The case of ‘who watches the watch man has arisen’. The reason being that some of the supplies she does are mostly rotten foodstuffs and below standards commodities. This has created a situation where the nutritional needs of students are not met and this is creating tension in the school.

Since she has made it compulsory for all students to pay for physical education fee of Ghc30 this has led to the stoppage of evening games since it is now strictly by payment mode through participation by students, and over 90% of the student population are failing to meet this draconian measure.

Madam Rosemary Nyekpieo whose local name; ‘Nyekpieo’, means “get power”, is very undemocratic as she does not have in place a management team in place and all decisions are solely taken by her alone.

She has created an atmosphere of panic and fear and any tutor in the school who dares question her actions in the school will suffer for it and so good teachers are leaving the school in search of other senior high schools to teach.

In a region that has low literacy level with endemic poverty levels; experts are telling us that if ten people are counted, nearly all of them may be within the poverty line; formerly it used to be out of ten nine are poor. If the educational authorities do not wake up from their slumber then we are out to create more illiterates for the youngest region of Ghana.

She took over the headship of the school in the year 2012 and now the school is experiencing the worsening situations and conditions unprecedented in the over fifty(50) years of its existence.

Since her take over as Headmistress of St. Francis Girls Senior High School academic work has gone down to the lowest ebb and due to her suppressive and repressive nature, the school’s situation is in dire straits as both teachers and students alike do not know what is in store for them.

Recently auditors discovered the wicked nature of Madam Rosemary Nyekpieo.

She forged the signatures (thumbprint) of some utility staff made up of watchmen and cleaners who were supposed to take an amount of one thousand two hundred Ghana cedis (Ghc 1,200.00) due them, but cashing on their ignorance and illiteracy, she forged their signatures (thumbprints) and created some fake vouchers forcing them to sign for two hundred and fifty Ghana cedis only(250.00) they accepted gladly without any knowledge of the actual amount due them up to date.

Instead of indicting her, auditors only asked her to refund the money to the affected staff. Whether she has done it or not only God would establish that.

Such is the ugly situation at St Francis Senior High School of Jirapa in the Upper West Region. A school founded on the foundation stone of missionary work is now being sacrificed on the alter of corruption and misdeed. Madam Rosemary Nyekpieo, an autocrat of a Headmistress whose naked greedy and daylight robbery is crushing an otherwise wonderful academic work to a very sickening end.

Something quick and pragmatic must be done to salvage the situation now. In the past heads who headed the school could lobby for government infrastructural projects such as dining hall, classroom blocks and many more especially from Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GETFUND). But Madam Rosemary Nyekpieo’s method is to stay around and ‘milk’ the resources of parents and students to its pulp.

I write as a concerned parent drawing the attention of the government, particularly the Ghana Education Service, to come in and investigate this matter and rectify the anomaly otherwise the name of GES and the reputation of the government would be dragged to the mud.

We wait for your action!

Writer's email:Gladys.dakura@yahoo.com

Columnist: Dakura, Gladys