Fraudulent payment for school placement linked to Education Minister’s access

By | February 9, 2023

Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, the minister of education, was linked to a fraudulent payment for enrolling a pupil in a category “A” school in 2022.

This was made known in a testimony given by Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, who was the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES) at the time of the placement and the meeting of the Ministry of Education’s investigating committee to look into allegations of corruption in the school placement.

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa was one of only two people who had unrestricted access to the computer system and could assign students to category “A” Schools or accept their assignment.
The Minister of Education and the Director General were the only individuals who were eligible for protocol placement into the most elite senior high schools.

The Ministry of Education established a committee when this restriction failed to deter corruption in Ghana’s most prestigious schools. The committee was established as a result of complaints made in writing by the Ministry of National Security over claims of systemic corruption.

According to the six-member committee’s report, which The Fourth Estate is the only publication to have access to, “He [Prof Opoku-Amankwa] saw [sic] an example in one of the cases that was reported, a sum of GHS7000 had been charged to place someone at Wesley Girls or Achimota School.

Using the system’s log report, a probe revealed that it had been done with the Hon. Minister’s access, which Ms. Vera Amoah was managing.
According to the report, Prof. Amankwah continued by claiming that his access to the placement system’s log port was later disabled, making it impossible for him to track down and address any further concerns.

After hearing from Prof. Amankwa, the committee spoke with Dr. Adutwum; however, the report does not mention whether or not the minister refuted the claim made by the GES Director-General that a fraudulent transaction had been linked to his account.

The Ministry of Education refuses to respond to a request for comment from The Fourth Estate made through the ministry’s public relations representative. However, it stated that it would “review the investigative work, consult with pertinent governmental agencies, and rectify the issues raised.”

According to Prof. Opoku-Amankwa, the system is set up such that both parties can see what was done in it, including placements that were made or approved by the Minister of Education. However, he claimed that a week after the 2022 placement began, his access to the system was terminated without giving him any notice.
The school placement system’s technical consultant informed the committee that he received a memo outlining who should be given access to protocol placement on the computerized system.

The Free SHS Coordinator and the Hon. Minister both sign a note giving the consultant instructions on how to assign certain personnel protocol access. It then turned out that the education minister had launched several undocumented adjustments and directives.

In order to assist in resolving some of the placement concerns, Mohammed Kamel Issa, an Assistant Research Officer in charge of procurement at the Free SHS Secretariat, was granted access to the category C schools. But after the hiring procedure, Kamal’s access was restricted for two weeks.

Later, the coordinator let him know that the Hon. Minister had asked to meet with him in his ministry office. Kamel claims that he attempted to ask his supervisors about the goal of the planned meeting with the Hon. Minister as well as the explanations for revoking his access, but he received no response.

The report noted that the meeting with the honorable minister “did not come on, however, because the Free SHS Coordinator subsequently arrived to advise him that the Minister did not require him again.”
Mark Sosu Mensah, a CSSPS center coordinator, revealed to the committee how the kids were assigned to schools that fell into the A, A1, B, B1, and C categories. He explained to the committee that after being first admitted to category “B1 schools, he was later moved to category B schools. The Free SHS Coordinator verbally informed him of his access. He claims that the Hon. Minister didn’t officially inform him of his access till 2017 in writing.

The investigative committee learned about more corruption-related matters during the questioning. Bright Appiah Kubi, a member of the Free SHS secretariat’s operations team, “told the committee that he got a report that a parent paid GHS20,000 for the ward to be placed in Wesley Girls to read science but that he could not check who did that placement because he did not have access to the log report on the system.”
In the past, according to Mr. Appiah, he was able to log in and check who completed the placement that was paid for, such as in the 2019 placement.

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa wrote to the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service to request an investigation into claims of corruption in student admission to secondary schools before the Ministry of Education established its investigation committee.

The Fourth Estate is aware that the NIB first agreed to Prof. Opoku-request Amankwa’s and launched the inquiry. However, precisely one month later, it sent a letter to the GES Director General requesting that he refer Prof. Opoku-request Amankwa’s to the CID.
According to Fourth Estate sources, “powers from above” terminated these inquiries. Prof. Opoku-Amankwa was unable to see this issue through to the end. Later that year, he was forced out of his position.

The Minister and I, as the Director-General, should take responsibility if there is fraud in the matter, he recently emphasized in an interview with The Fourth Estate. I wholeheartedly accept and concur, but since I was involved, I wanted to make sure there were no problems.
Even while in office, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa admitted to the GES Committee that he could not “completely clear himself from any allegations of corruption” since he had given one of his subordinates permission to perform the task on his behalf.

However, he continued by saying that one benefit of the system is that whenever someone logs in using his credentials, he receives a notification alert so he can find out what was happening.

The Fourth Estate’s undercover investigations revealed that a network of individuals charged money and placed students into the most coveted category “A” and category “B” senior high schools in the nation, despite the fact that the security agencies and the Ministry of Education’s committee failed to identify those responsible for the allegedly fraudulent payments and placements.

Eight defendants were apprehended thanks to efforts by the Fourth Estate and subsequent coordination with the police. None of them are employed by the Ghana Education Service, CSSPS Secretariat, the Ministry of Education, or the Free SHS secretariat

The Fourth Estate discovered that only the Minister of Education and the Director General of the GES could approve protocol placement into category “A” schools following payments.

Source: The Fourth Estate

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