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Education Minister fingered in school placement fraud

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Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, has been named as a culprit in the alleged fraudulent placement of students into prestigious senior high schools they did not qualify for admission.

According to a new revelation by the Fourth Estate, a private investigative firm owned by ace journalist Manasseh Azure, a fraudulent payment made for the placement of a student into a category “A” school in 2022 was traced to the login access of the Education Minister.

This is contained 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 Ministry of Education’s investigative committee’s sitting to probe alleged corruption in the school placement.

The report indicates that Prof. Opoku-Amankwa was also one of only two persons with unfettered access to the computer system and could place or approve placement of students into category “A” Schools.

Access to protocol placement into the most prestigious senior high schools was limited to the Minister of Education and the Director General of the GES to curb the payment of money for placement into category “A” schools.

That restriction did not stop the acts of corruption in Ghana’s most sought-after schools, resulting in the setting up of a committee by the Ministry of Education. The committee was set up after the Ministry of National Security wrote to complain about allegations of corruption in the system.

The report of the six-member committee, which The Fourth Estate has exclusive access to, states: “He [Prof Opoku-Amankwa] sighted [sic] an example in one of the cases that was reported that an amount of GHS7000 had been charged to place someone at Wesley Girls or Achimota School. A probe using the log report on the system showed that it was done with the Hon. Minister’s access which was being handled by Ms. Vera Amoah.”

The report adds: “Prof Amankwah went on to say that subsequently, his permission to the log port on the placement system was blocked and so could not trace and act on complaints that came in thereafter.”

The committee spoke to Dr. Adutwum after taking Prof. Amankwa’s testimony, but the report does not state whether or not the minister denied the GES Director-General’s assertion that a fraudulent transaction was traced to his account.

When The Fourth Estate requested comment through the public relations officer of the Ministry of Education, the ministry declined to comment. It, however, said it would “study the investigative work, collaborate with relevant state institutions and address the issues raised accordingly.”

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa is reported to have told The Fourth Estate that the system is designed such that he could see placements that were effected or approved by the Minister of Education and the Minister could also see what he did in the system. A week after the 2022 placement started, however, he said his access to the system was revoked without any explanation to him.

The technical consultant of the school placement system told the committee that the decision on who should be granted access to protocol placement on the computerised system was communicated to him in a memo.

“The consultant receives instruction in the form of a memo generated by the Free SHS Coordinator and signed by the Hon. Minister to assign protocol access to some identified officers,” the report states.

However, it emerged that the Minister of Education later initiated some changes and instructions which were not documented.

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