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Regional News of Friday, 29 February 2008

Source: GNA

PTAs say no to GES taking over funds

Accra, Feb. 29, GNA - The Coalition of Greater Accra Parent Teachers Associations (PTA) on has expressed concern about the Ghana Education Service (GES) arrogating powers to itself in taking over the accounts of various PTAs.

The directive, which according to the PTA was issued on 29th October 2007 by the Director-General of the GES, and was sent to heads of Second Cycle Institutions, copied to the GES council and "conveniently" ignored the PTAs. Mr Alexander Danso, Chairman of the Coalition at press conference held to express their grievances to the public cautioned that if the GES wanted any formal interests in the PTA funds, it could only do that by mutual consultation.

"There must be a transparent process of declaring and justifying its objectives. In any case such a matter must be referred to our members and their formal approval obtained," he said. The Coalition, which was formed during the protracted NAGRAT-GES-Ministry of Education industrial crisis in 2006 also expressed regret that the GES appeared to be unduly focusing on money to the neglect of more pertinent challenges facing education. Mr Danso said the result of GES's action was a spreading climate of confusion, conflict and corruption that was not healthy for promoting education.

He pointed out that PTAs were key stakeholders in basic and second cycle institutions since they contributed in as many ways as possible towards enhancing the welfare and learning conditions of their wards in respective schools.

"PTAs identify challenges faced by their wards and respond through voluntary mobilization of resources, usually after decisions at general meeting. Most often PTAs step in to redress gaps or neglects caused by GES limitations."

He said PTAs were guided by their respective constitutions and an attempt to override the various constitutions and usurp their accounts by administrative order was counter to the basic tenets of democracy, good governance and due process.

"The directive to incorporate PTA funds which are private financial resources into public school finances violates Financial Administration Act 2003, Act 654 and is a recipe for advancing corruption among school authorities."

The Council cautioned the GES that until the matter was amicably resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, school officials who hastily tried to explore the ill-advised directive to tamper with PTA funds may be engaged in acts tantamount to stealing and abuse of office, adding, "such officials do so at their own risk." The Council also urged banks to observe strict professionalism in upholding the dictates of PTA constitutions concerning signatories to PTA accounts.

"Where this matter is not resolved in good time, we may find a situation where parents withhold payment of PTAs levies from next term until they are given their due respect," The Council cautioned. Mr Danso expressed hope that the GES would demonstrate responsibility and official modesty enough to prevent such avoidable crisis.