THE RAMPAGING JACKALS
A jackal is a slender long-legged wild dog found in Africa and South East Asia, that feeds on carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals), game and fruits. These wild dogs usually hunt cooperatively. And so it is today with the human jackals in the Ghana Education Service, working cooperatively to loot the system. A small group of people in top and middle management positions in the service, are on rampage extorting money from schools and Directorates to enrich themselves. This is being done through imposition of levies to get money for the retirement benefit of a top management staff of the service.
What is not clear is whether this corrupt practice has the tacit approval of the Management of the GES because they are themselves the beneficiaries. Who will stop these “jackals” in their track?
TEACHERS, THE DOWN – TRODDEN
There are no public sector workers who have suffered humiliation, intimidation, harassment, threats, inhumane sanctions and neglect by their top Management in Ghana, more than teachers. They have not only been subjected to all kinds of inhumane treatment by their Management at the least opportunity, but their welfare and other conditions of service have over the years, also never engaged the priority attention of their Management.
No doubt, teachers have retired from the GES with paltry pensions. The monthly net salary of a Senior High School Headmaster is below Gh¢3000.00, and after serving for over 35 years in the GES, he goes home on retirement with a pension lump sum not worthy of mention. I have lived under the illusion that my SSNIT pension lump sum of Gh¢35,000.00 after 37 years of uninterrupted service as a teacher was an insult to me until a colleague Headmaster who retired after me lamented to me that his was about eight thousand Ghana cedis (Ghc8,000.00). Like me, his Tier 2 pension has also not been paid.
Over the years, any effort by teachers and their unions to push for better conditions of service for all of us, including Management, have been met with iron gloves by the GES Directors General and their Management Teams at Headquarters. This is in spite of the huge contributions teachers have made, and continue to make, towards the human capital development of the nation.
I have been searching for answers to the reason why this hostile and negative attitude of Management towards their teachers has been so without success until Tuesday 27th July 2021, when the answer to this puzzle was laid bare before me. The reason is simple. Apart from the “good will gifts” showered on the GES Management by Directors, Accountants, Headmasters, etc. while in active service, there is in addition, a well coordinated plan of extortion of money from the system, cooperatively executed with precision and subtle threats and coercion, by some JACKALS, with the sole purpose of sending off top Management staff of the GES with juicy retirement packages. Huge sums of money are looted from the schools and education directorates to pay benefits to officials when they go on retirement.
These pension packages are often thousand times more than what the officials receive from SSNIT and the Tier 2 pensions which the very managers have failed to ensure that their retired junior staff are paid. With these extra retirement packages, the GES Management does not feel the frustrations and disappointments that teachers go through after retirement.
THE JACKALS ON RAMPAGE
On Tuesday 27th July 2021, while on our rounds in the Regions to find out how teachers were reacting to the 4% increase in base pay for 2021, our Research Team members stumbled upon a piece of information which borders on corruption within the GES. A teacher, after telling our Team the insignificant amount that was added to his July 2021 salary arising out of the 4% increase, lamented that, GES Management does not care about the welfare of teachers because, they could levy schools and Education Directorates to get money to send off themselves when they retire. The teacher revealed that a top management staff at the GES Headquarters had retired, or was due to retire, and schools in the region were being levied to send off that Management Staff.
Surprised at the revelation, our Research Teams in all the 16 regions were activated, alerted and directed to find out the truth or otherwise of the levy allegation. The Research Teams were directed to find out:
1. If the alleged levy cut across all regions or was restricted only to the region from which we stumbled upon the information.
2. How much was being levied per school or education directorate.
3. The name and position of the Management staff at the GES Headquarters for whom the levy is being collected.
Within three days, we were able to assemble some information. The information brought from the 16 regions indicated that:
1. The levy is national and is being collected in all the 16 regions. Our Teams in some regions even intercepted some demand notices sent to some schools and directorates through WhatsApp messages. In one region the default list had twenty (20) Senior High Schools and seventeen (17) Education Directorates who were yet to pay their levies as at Friday 30th July 2021. A caution was sent to them to pay up. The default list was titled “LIST OF OFFICES AND INSTITUTIONS WHO HAVE NOT PAID THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS FOR CHIEF ACCOUNTANT’S RETIREMENT ” The title of this default list confirmed the report we had from the teacher on 27th July 2021. There are about 23 Education Directorates and seventy six (76) SHSs in that region. It is also worth noting that *all the grade “A” schools* in that region had paid. Their names were thus not on the default list. The defaulting schools on all the lists intercepted were poorly endowed ones.
2. Each SHS is to pay not less than Gh¢200.00 while each Education Directorate is to pay a minimum of Gh¢100.00. We did not chance upon any letter from the GES directing or authorizing collection of these levies. Some Headmasters and District Directors our team spoke to thus declined to pay the levies, hence the default list and reminder to such defaulting institutions. In such instances, the Accountants were compelled to pay the levies from their own pockets for fear of being targeted by the GES Management. Such Accountants claimed they could be transferred to smaller and remote schools or districts if they failed to pay.
3. It was revealed that the Officer at the GES Headquarters for whom the retirement levy is being collected is the Chief Accountant, a lady by name Naa Dei Thompson. What our Team could not confirm was whether the Chief Accountant was even aware of this illegal collection in her name.
As Research Coordinator, I tried to speak on phone to the persons in charge of the collections in the various regions. Most of them could not pick my calls. Those who picked dropped the line as soon as I introduced myself and told them my mission. The man in charge of the collection in Central Region was, however, kind and cooperative enough to speak to me and courteously responded to my queries. He confirmed the following:
• The money was being collected to give a befitting send off to the Chief Accountant at the GES Headquarters.
• He was levying his Accountants and was not bothered about whether they paid the money from their personal pockets or from school and Directorate coffers. All he wanted was his money.
• He told me I was not a member of his Association to question him about why he was not issuing receipts for moneys collected.
• Asked how he would account for the moneys collected without receipt, the Collector politely responded that I should leave that to him and his Accountants.
THE MATHEMATICS OF THE EXTORTION
Currently, there are:
1. 16 Regional Directorates of Education
2. 230 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Directorates
3. Over 760 public Senior High Schools operating under the GES.
So with the Gh¢100 per directorate and Gh¢200 per SHS, the Mathematics of the amount to be collected works out as follows:
•16 × Gh¢100 = Gh¢1,600
•230 × Gh¢100 = Gh¢23,000
• 760 × Gh¢200 = Gh¢152,000
Thus, a whopping amount of One hundred and seventy six thousand Ghana Cedis is being collected as retirement benefit for the Chief Accountant! Only God knows how much will be collected from the schools and directorates when the Director General and his Deputies retire. With this huge unearned retirement benefit, does anybody again wonder why the GES Management has never been concerned about the poor conditions within the service and the insulting meagre pensions paid to their junior staff?
As noted early on, the most troubling discovery by our Team was that no receipts were issued to the schools and Directorates which paid these levies. Many questions thus beg for answers:
• Which funds in the schools and Directorates are the Headmasters, Directors and their Accountants paying these levies from?
2. How are the schools and Directorates going to account for these non receipted payments to Auditors when their accounts are audited? “Ways and means”, I guess.
3. Is the GES not teaching their Directors, Headmasters and the Accountants corrupt practices by this illegal extortions without issuing receipts?
4. When receipts are not being issued for moneys collected, how can those in charge of the collections transparently account for the moneys they collected?
SHARING OF THE BOOTY
Quized by one of our Team members in one region why one Official (Chief Accountant), should be paid this huge sum of money for her retirement, the man in charge of the collection explained how the money would allegedly be disbursed as follows:
1. Part of the money would cater for food, drinks and water to be served at the send off party to be organised for the Chief Accountant.
2. Part would cater for parcels and cash donation to the retired Chief Accountant
3. There would also be some cash donations to the Director General and his Deputies when they come to grace the send off ceremony for the Chief Accountant.
• Some money would also go to the Regional Directors for what he termed “fuel”.
China Achebe once wrote: “He who lives by the river does not wash his hands with sputum.” So will the collectors of these levies go empty handed in this cooperative hunt? Will they not take part in feeding on the carrion as the Jackals do after a successful cooperative hunt?
QUESTIONS FOR MANAGEMENT
• Is the GES Director General, Prof. Kwasi Opoku Amankwah aware of these extortions in the name of retirement of his Chief Accountant? Is the retired Chief Accountant part of the cooperative hunt? Is the Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum also aware?
• Is the Director General also aware that his name is being soiled by those engaged in these illegal collections by alleging that he has a share in the Gh¢176,000?
• So if a Headmaster of a Senior High School is going on retirement, can he also levy students to pay towards his retirement?
Once upon a time the Students Representative Council (SRC) of a Senior High School decided to levy students just Ghc2.00 each for their Headmaster’s retirement send off. The GES moved fast to remove that Headmaster from office even before his date for retirement was due. That was even long before the advent of fSHS.
The Assistant Headmaster of the school I retired in, Mr. Reynolds Quansah, was wrongly retired by the GES one year before his retirement was due. That was after my exit from that school on retirement. He had spent almost all his life as a graduate teacher in that school.
A hard working and committed teacher, Reynolds Quansah was a national award winner of the Best Teacher Award scheme, otherwise changed and given the Christian name, “Teacher Price” by Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, when he became Minister for Education. Mr Reynolds Quansah requested his school which he had served religiously, attracting both hatred and affection from teachers and students alike for his enforcement of discipline, to organise a send off for him so he could bid the school farewell. His Headmaster and Accountant referred him to my example. Quansah was rightly told that Kwami Alorvi, the former Headmaster, organised his own send off and paid for it, so he should do same. The school had no commitment towards his retirement.
In deed, the bill for my retirement cum 60th birthday ceremony on 31st December was footed by my daughters. They wanted to lure me to our hometown to give me a surprise. When I got wind of the ambush, I suggested to them to let me celebrate that unique occasion in the last station of my career, the school. My staff, both teaching and non teaching, the student leadership and community leaders, as well as my daughters joined me to make the day a memorable one. I was also privileged to have my former Mfantsipim Headmaster and mentor, Mr. Kwame Miezah Edjah, who paid me visits at all the schools I had managed as Headmaster after parting company with him in Mfantsipim, grace the occasion for me. So if teachers have gone on retirement without collecting retirement packages from the schools they served, why then can’t the GES Management do same but have to levy schools and Directorates for their retirement?
Is it not because the GES Management continue to use methods alien to their own rules and regulations to collect money to augment their retirement incomes as it is being alleged in this report, that they don’t care a damn about bettering the conditions within the service? Management has become an articulated vehicle on a single truck road impeding movement of traffic; they could neither move fast for other vehicles to follow, nor give way to them to go. If Management could go through just 10% of the worries and disappointments teachers go through in retirement, perhaps their attitude towards teachers will change.
Director General should:
• Investigate this illegal collection of levies from the SHSs and Directorates of Education for the retirement of the Chief Accountant, if he did not authorise it.
• Cause official receipts to be issued to the schools and directorates if the collection was authorised by him.
• Order the refund of the moneys collected to the schools and directorates that had paid if he did not authorize the collection.
• Should let the imposition of levies for retirement run down the ladder, if that is the new normal, from the GES Management to the lowest ranking teacher as follow:
a. DG and Headquarters Management levy all schools and Directorates in Ghana for a specified amount for their retirements.
b. Regional Directors levy all schools and directorates in their respective regions for their retirement
c. MMD Directors levy all schools within their districts for their retirement
d. Headmasters levy all students in their respective schools for their retirement and that of their Assistants and Senior House Staff.
e. Teachers levy all students they teach for their retirement.
I believe when these are done, it will bring about fairness and equity within the service. If, however, these proposals for equity are not acceptable to Management (as I know they will not because they are outrageous), then the Director General and the Minister of Education must stop these marauding jackals from their rampage so that these extortions of h in the service will cease.