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Opinions of Thursday, 25 February 2016

Columnist: Tietaa, Jonas

Jirapa Senior High School ‘strangulates’ parents financially

Tension is mounting on daily basis between parents and their wards on the one hand against the management and staff of the Jirapa Senior High School on the other in the Upper West Region. For almost two four weeks now the school has been closed down by the Upper West Regional Coordinating council (RCC) in order to forestall unforeseen circumstances. A purported anonymous letter has been written to burn down the school and the headmistress and her bungalow.

The reason for the wanton behavior of the students of the school is not farfetched as a number of reasons have been deduced for the action of the students.
The first reason given was the fact that for almost three years or more, the school authorities have been charging what they call fees for ‘home attire’, which is supposed to be for the provision of track suits for all students of the school, but in reality the school have woefully failed to provide the track suits for any particular batch of student for years running, and yet every year such illegal deductions are being done and done in such a way that no student can escape payment.
Any time red flags are been raised for the non provision of the tracks suit for which payment had been done the school authorities will then try to stave off the money by asking continuing students to pay school fees less the amount charged for the track suits and sometimes not at all. And this ugly situation has led to situations where daggers are being drawn each year between students and their parents against school authorities by every batch of students.

The second problem bedeviling the school concerns the construction of the school’s so called dining hall by the Parent Teacher Association of which every year students both continuing and ‘freshers’ are asked to pay Ghc 150 each year for the construction of the school’s dining hall which to date has never seen the end of the construction. Parents are demanding accountability from the school’s authorities but all demands have fallen on death ears and this has created a head on collision course with parents directly with school’s authorities. The front of the school’s Parent Teacher Association is completely divided as majority of parents are in support of their wards and a tiny number are behind the school’s illegal acts. Those supporting the school authorities are believed to be those who hold executive positions in the PTA and are therefore benefiting directly.

There is also an allegation that some of the contracts being done in the school are directly executed by some of the staffs of the school, creating a conflict of interest situation in the school. For example the building housing the corn mill of the school, the contract was awarded to one of the tutors of the school by named as Mumuni and the work was shoddily done leaving a very sour taste in the mouth of many observers of events in the school.

The school’s authorities have also been cited as involving in some financial mismanagement of school’s fund. For example part of the school’s problem with the students stems from the fact that the school’s authorities have been alleged to have used funds of the school and deposited it to the now defunct DKM Micro finance, a situation which has touched thousands of individuals and institutions in the Upper West Region. The motive for sending money of the Jirapa Senior High School to DKM was derived from greed and the attitude of get rich quick, as at the time DKM had promised to give almost hundred percent profit for every savings made with them which has now turned out to be a complete fiasco and a blatant lie.
The schools’ authorities have now resorted to charging every student of the school to pay between fifty Ghana cedis from first year students and one hundred and ten Ghana cedis from continuing students for their alleged involvement in an act of vandalism resulting from demonstrating against the school’s authorities for refusing them to carry out an entertainment program. The school authorities alleged that the senior students had mixed gari with ‘blue’ to feed the first years during entertainment program on what had described as” new known’s night”.
This was the matter that broke the camel’ back as pent up feelings bottled up for some time now, due to the nonpayment of money meant for the supply of track suits which failed to materialize for years running which culminated in the so called riot.
On the 14th of February 2016 when the PTA organized a meeting for all parents of the school, a decree was issued that no parent would speak at the function for more than thirty seconds. A parent who dared to speak for more than the thirty seconds stipulated and for also daring to touch on issues deemed by the schools authorities to be ‘sensitive’, that parent, a man of about fifty something years was bundled by some stuff the school and forcibly thrown and locked up in the staff common room of the school. This ‘false imprisonment’ went on for some time until the staff became very satisfied and then went into the staff common room forcing him to take an oath that he would never speak or demand any accountability from the school’s authorities.

Such is the ugly scenario where students and parents of Jirapa Senior High School find themselves and if something pragmatic is done a sad story would be told one day. The idea behind the establishment of the school was a noble one but some greedy and insensitive ‘bandits’ are rendering that noble idea useless. All must come on board to correct that anomaly The district director of education appears to be at her wits end and does not know how to handle the situation and so the staff and some executive members of the school’ PTA have taken the school to ransom.

A stitch in time saves nine is a wise saying that must be watched closely!!!
Thanks for the space provided.