Education Minister Dodges Grilling

The much-anticipated meeting of the Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, following an invitation by the Education Committee of Parliament to answer questions on allegations of corruption in the school placement exercise in 2022,could not come on last Thursday, February 2, as planned.

This is because the minister failed to show up after adequate preparations and arrangements were made to receive him.

According to The Anchor’s information, members on the committee were left heavily disappointed, after the minister allegedly called at the eleventh hour to inform them he cannot make it and, therefore, should be given another time.

The committee, left with no option, especially given the public interest the matter had attracted, decided to fix a new date to allow the minister appear before it.

A source close to the committee told this paper, “meeting could not come on because the minister asked for time, it’s now going to be held on the 11th.”

This turn of event to honour the invitation is said to have angered some members on the committee who considered the minister’s posture as an attempt to undermine their work as a committee.

They explained that Parliamentary invitations are tools they use to seek information or to press for action, hence ministers are obliged to explain and defend the work, policy decisions and actions of their ministries through these invitations.

Dr. Adutwum’s invitation follows an investigative documentary by a whistle-blower website, The Fourth Estate titled, “School Placement for Sale.”

But even before the minister could appear before the committee, a deputy ranking member and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South Constituency, Dr. Clement Apaak, said the minister must tell the public why his ministry failed to make public a report of an internal investigative committee on corruption in the 2022 school placement.

Dr. Apaak said, he wonders why details of the report have been shielded and nobody has also been held accountable over it, after the committee had done its work and submitted its findings long ago.

The MP, who is also a member of the Public Accounts Committee, said, “Find here a letter establishing a committee to investigate allegations of corruption in school placement in 2022.  Question is, why has the Minister for Education not made public the committee report, has anyone been held accountable?” insisting that, “We demand that the report be made public.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Apaak’s colleague ranking member on the Education Committee, Peter Nortsu Kortoe, has told The Anchor that the invitation of the minister was based solely on The Fourth Estate online portal’s investigative documentary titled, “School Placement for Sale.”

According to him, “When the release of the video came out, we also watched and we have been speaking with people, so the chairman and I decided that we should invite the minister to the committee as quickly as possible to brief us on the development.”

He also reiterated that the committee would also be interested in the report of an internal investigative committee at the Ministry of Education on corruption in the 2022 school placement.

The committee, he said, would want “to find out what measures the minister is putting in place to forestall such occurrences in the coming placement.”

The Ministry of Education launched an investigation into the school placement fraud last year and presented its report to the sector minister, but the report has since not been published nor its recommendations implemented.

The investigation was instigated by an alert from the National Security Ministry over allegations of corruption in the school placement.

This became public after The Fourth Estate investigations into the 2022 school placement fraud. The investigation uncovered how a syndicate sold admission slots to students who wanted placement in Ghana’s most-sought after senior high schools.

In one instance, the syndicate demanded and took GHS8,500 to change placement from Accra Wesley Girls to Aggrey Memorial Zion School.

The syndicate also demanded and took GHS11,000 and changed placement from Aburi Presbyterian Senior High School to Mfantsiman Girls Senior High School.

How the names of students got to the Education Minister or the GES Director-General for placement into a category “A” school is easy to find, according to the Education Minister, Dr. Yaw Adutwum, who spoke to the online portal.

Dr. Adutwum said only the office of the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education had access to category “A” schools in the placement system.

Our checks revealed that access to such category’s placement was limited to only two individuals: the Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, and the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service, Prof. Kwasi Opoku Amankwa, the portal said.

Prof. Amankwa, however, told The Fourth Estate that he was logged out of the system only a week after placement started and he was denied access to make any placement or see what was happening at the backend.

With Prof. Amankwa removed, it means, only Dr. Adutwum had access to the system and could effect the placements for the Category “A” schools.

The police have so far arrested eight persons in relation to The Fourth Estate documentary, but none of them is a staff of the Ministry of Education or the Ghana Education Service

Source: Anhorghana

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