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Opinions of Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Columnist: Ata, Kofi

Is OLA College Principal Involved in Admission Corruption?

Is OLA College (Cape Coast) Principal Involved in Admission Corruption?

By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK

The story below regarding the plight of about ten young women who were offered admission at Ola College of Education in Cape Coast but denied registration by the actions of the Principal appeared in the Daily Graphic of September 13, 2012.

“OLA?College Applicants Appeal To Education Minister” (Daily Graphic, by Shirley Asiedu-Addo.

“Some students who have applied to the OLA College of Education in Cape Coast and believe that they have not been treated fairly by the college, have asked the Ministry of Education to intervene on their behalf. The affected students told the Daily Graphic at its offices in Cape Coast that the college had refused to admit them without just cause. They indicated that they were called for an interview for entry into the college and the panel promised that they would communicate with those who qualified later.

One of the affected students, Ms Abigail Effah Budu, said they did not receive any communication from the college as promised. The others included Portia Boateng, Josephine Adjei and Abigail Bosoma, all from the Brong Ahafo Region. However on September 5, 2012, Ms Budu said she received information from a friend that her name was on the list of admitted students on the notice board of the college. Ms Budu said the next day she travelled from Dormaa to the college to pay her fees, but the bankers on the school compound said she would not be allowed to make the payment without an admission letter, even though her name was on the school’s notice board.

She said when she contacted the secretary to the principal, she was told the Principal, Reverend Sister Elizabeth Amoakohene, had collected the rest of the admission letters which had not been collected on September 5, 2012 but she had travelled. They decided to wait for the principal. She indicated that she and 10 others who were facing the same problem got stranded and had to sleep in the classrooms of the college until Saturday, September 8, 2012. She said when the principal came she dismissed them and said admissions had been closed and that the notices had been on the board two weeks earlier.

Ms Budu told this paper that the affected students found it disturbing that the college did not communicate in any way to them about their admission and had refused them admission even though the admission letters gave September 7, 2012 as close of admission. For her part, Portia Boateng said due to the distance from the school to their locations they expected that the school would text the admission messages to their phones like they did for the interviews but there was no such communication to them. She noted that there was no way they would have known they were admitted and said it was unfair for them to be treated this way.

The principal of the school was said to have travelled out of town when the Daily Graphic visited the campus. The Vice-Principal, Rev. Sister Agnes Rita Adoma, said she was also out of town and could not speak on the issue”. At this point, I must declare my interest in this matter (conflict of interest) that one of the ten affected applicants is my niece and I have been trying from here in the UK to and assist them but I have hit a brick wall in Ghana. I even called the Deputy Minister for Education (Mr Ayariga) yesterday but he was not in his office. I then called one of the Directors at the Education Ministry responsible for Higher Education (Mr Tay) who telephoned me back but ended the call abruptly as soon as I made him aware of the purpose of my call.

What baffles me is why the Ministry of Education has failed to take action to ensure that the applicants involved are allowed to register? Again why has the Daily Graphic not taken the matter further to make the Principal and ministry accountable for the strange actions of the Principal? The fact is that these students applied to the college, met the admission requirements, attended interviews and were offered admission. Their names were displayed on the college notice board as having been offered admission. Despite the college’s failure to inform them about the offer of admission, they went to the college to register on 6 September 2012 to beat the deadline of 7 September 2012 but could not register because they did not have their admission letters which had been collected from the office by the Principal on 5 September 2012. The Principal then travelled and did not return until 8 September 2012, after the deadline for registration had passed on the previous day.

The questions the authorities in Ghana (Ministry of Education, the College Governors) must ask are: why did the college not write to inform the affected students about the offer of admission?, why did the Principal collect the admission letters from the office on 5 September 2012 and travel when the deadline had not past?, how did the Principal expect the affected student to register when she had their admission letters with her? , what will happen to those places? and last but not the least, why did the Principal only returned after the deadline had past and thereby directly denied the applicants the right to register by the deadline of 7 September 2012?

According to my nice, they were asked to and they provided a stamped address envelope to the college as part of the application process. The stamped address envelopes were to be used to write to them with the outcome of their applications but that never happened. They went to the Regional Director of Education in Cape Coast for assistance but did not get any help and as a result they went to see the Regional Minister but she had travelled to Accra. They were then called to the Regional Education Office and reprimanded for going directly to the Regional Minister.

They were determined so they took their case to the Ministry of Education in Accra where they were referred to the Higher Education Council. Sadly, no one is interested in assisting them to stop what appears to be corruption in admissions at OLA College of Education. They were only given some financial assistance to travel back to their homes.

In my own view, I suspect when the Principal collected their admission letters on 5 September (two clear days before the registration deadline) she did so purposefully to deny them their legitimate places at the college. I also suspect that she did not travel but a ploy to cover up whatever she intended to do with those letters and finally I also suspect that those places would be offered to some other students on certain conditions, including applicants who failed but have connections and “to the highest bidder”. Is that not strange, bribery and corruption? The college cannot deny that these applicants were offered admission because I asked my niece to take a photo of her name displayed on the college notice board and she did.

I expected a Catholic Institution headed by reverend ministers to be honest, and fair to all applicants. This smacks of dishonesty, corruption and injustice to the applicants involved. Ghana desperately needs trained teachers, yet ten successful applicants are being denied the right to attend teacher training college to qualify as teachers and no one in authority is asking questions and demanding the right answers. The college’s explanation that, successful applicants’ names were published in the Ghanaian Times and the Daily Graphic as well as being displayed on the notice board is not acceptable. The Principal must be made to explain why she collected the admission letters from the office on 5 September 2012 when she knew that without the letters, the applicants could not register by the deadline of 7 September 2012.

Are the authorities in Ghana, including the Daily Graphic not assisting these applicants because they are all women? I call on the Ministry of Education to investigate this strange case as a matter of urgency and make sure the applicants involved are given their rightful places at the college without any further delay. This is a disgrace to the Catholic Church in Ghana.

Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK