SHS Placement Fraud: Education Minister, Myself Must Take The Blame
The immediate past Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, has said allegations of fraud in the 2022 Computerised Selection School Placement System (CSSPS)exercise should be blamed solely on the Education Minister and himself.
According to the former GES boss, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum and himself were the only ones given access and passwords to approve protocol placement into Category ‘A’Senior High Schools (SHSs) and, therefore, must take full responsibility of any fraudulent activity that might have occurred.
A memo that was circulated within the Ministry of Education on the 2022 SHS placement shows that only the Director-General and the Education Minister had full access to the Category ‘A’ schools.
The move was to ensure there was no fraud recorded during the placement process, but it has turned out that not much was done to achieve this objective.
Reacting to an investigative piece by The Fourth Estate,an online portal, Dr. Opoku-Amankwa, who was sacked last year, said, aside from being one of the two personalities, he had wanted to ensure there were no challenges with the process.
He told the online portal in an interview that, “If there is fraud in the matter, then I, as the Director-General, and the minister should take responsibility. I fully accept and agree, but I knew that I was part of it and I wanted to actually make sure that there were no challenges with it.”
The editor of The Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni, also disclosed on Joy News that Prof. Opoku-Amankwa was at a point of the selection process “locked out” and so could not follow what was happening.
It should also be indicated that, the two, the minister and the ex-GES boss, had not been in good terms and it is alleged that it was Dr.Adutwum that instigated the removal of the professor from his post.
But, according to the portal, although the Minister of Education said the GES Director-General’s office and the Ministry of Education were the two institutions which had access to Category ‘A’ schools, its checks revealed that full access to such protocol placement in all Category ‘A’ schools were limited to only two individuals.
“In reality, we have two; the Director-General’s office and the Ministry of Education. Last year, those are the two people with access,” Dr.Adutwum told The Fourth Estate in an interview.
He explained further that if two people have access to these Category ‘A’ schools, then it will not be difficult to tell who placed which students and where.
“If only two people have access to category A schools, you are able to tell who did the placement for a certain student so if these allegations that a parent has paid money, and this student has found himself in this school, you go into the system and the IT people are able to tell which of the two people did the placement so it becomes much easier,” the minister said.
He added: “And you know this is the area [category A schools] where people are scamming parents because they are the most desirable schools.”
Dr. Adutwum, in the wake of the report, called for a review of the protocol system to curb future fraud activities, saying that, as a sector minister, he will not look on for such acts to occur under his watch.
Meanwhile, some eight suspects are reportedly in the grip of the police for their roles in the school placement fraud.
The eight are part of a syndicate that sold placement slots in senior school schools during the 2022 Computerised School Selection and Placement exercise.
They are Eric Aggrey, 36, a cleaner; Rachel Aryeetey, a caterer; Isaac Mensah and Gilbert Afriyie Nkrumah, 23. The rest are Sebastian Appram, a staff of the Fisheries Commission’s Tema Regional Office; Bernard Kusi Agyemang, an operations manager with a logistics company; Eugenia Abigail Ahiable, an administrator and Daniel Opoku, a foreman.
The investigations revealed that the suspects worked with other intermediaries to effect placement into senior high schools after they demanded and took monies ranging from GHS8,000 to GHS20,000.
The prosecutor, Chief Inspector Benneh, told the court that, even though the suspects were private citizens, they conspired with public officers to commit a crime, hence, the charge of “Using public office for profit [inserted by act 458, sec 3] contrary to section 179C [B] of the criminal offences act 1960[Act 29].”
Eric Aggrey, with the assistance of other intermediaries, changed placement from Apam Senior High School to Aggrey Memorial AME Zion School and from Presbyterian Senior High Technical School, Aburi, to Mfantsiman Girls in the Central Region.
Eric and his network demanded and took GH₵19,500 for placing two candidates at Aggrey Memorial and Mfantsiman Girls, both in the Central Region.
Eric confessed to taking money from some people. He also admitted to receiving a list of vacancies of schools from Rachel, another member of the cartel.
Rachel also admitted and mentioned another person, a private security guard in a basic school opposite her house, as the facilitator for everyone she had assisted to get placement changed.
Rachel said the security guard, called Isaac Mensah, also gave the money he collected to his friend whom she (Rachel) had never met. She said Isaac’s brother owed her money for his inability to change placement for the last candidate she presented.
The police subsequently arrested Isaac, who also mentioned Sebastian Appram as the person who assisted him.
Gilbert Afriyie Nkrumah was invited to the Accra Central Police station and was arrested on October 28, 2022.
Three others were later arrested. Daniel Opoku, a foreman, mentioned the name of twin brothers, Atta KuffuorSenior, a lab technician; and Atta Kuffuor Junior, an IT expert, who finally helped to change the placement of a student from Aburi Presbyterian Senior High School to Mfantsiman Girls Senior High School.
The twins were already on the run for similar offences, Daniel Opoku told the police in his statement.
Rachel could not have placed a student into Mfantsiman Girls without the approval of the Minister of Education or the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, the only two individuals with passwords to the Category ‘A’ schools.