… 49 in final year
Approximately 100 financially distressed students of the Gratis Foundation in Koforidua will be denied the opportunity to write their examinations for non-payment of fees.
The number comprises almost 80 percent of apprenticeship trainees who have been undergoing training in the school.
Instructively, this is a time that the Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (COTVET) is laying strong emphasis on technical education across the country.
The MD of COTVET, Dr. Fred Asamoah, recently disclosed that government has resolved to realign all technical institutions to the Educational Ministry to revamp the sector.
However, the Eastern Regional Director of Gratis Foundation, Mr. Isaac Osei Mensah, told the Goldstreet Business, that more than half of the 204 technical students on admission struggle to pay the approved GHS200 termly fee.
The Centre enrolls JHS graduates and other individuals – largely from informal mechanic shops – interested in technical education and practical hands-on apprenticeship in engine and vehicle technology.
Mr. Mensah revealed that before the implementation of the Free SHS policy, the Centre used to enjoy support from Plan Ghana, an NGO.
“They helped pay the fees of almost all our trainees and apprentices but that gesture came to a halt with the commencement of Free SHS,” Mensah explained.
Every effort to convince Plan that Gratis Foundation trainees are not beneficiaries of the Free SHS policy has failed. Plan insists they have limited resources to continue supporting Gratis Foundation.
“As it stands, almost all final year students are yet to pay their fees before exams begin on April 30. Some have even left the Centre for that reason without being sacked,” Mensah revealed.
The Centre runs other courses including welding, fabrication, and the four core subjects, English, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies.
Mensah disclosed this when the Eastern Regional Minister, Mr. Eric Kwakye Darfour and the Eastern Regional President of AGI, Mr. Dela Gadjanku, visited with a media team to familiarize themselves with operations of the Centre, on Monday.
The Centre’s Director also lamented about the obsolete nature of training equipment and learning materials used to train the students.
“About 85 percent of machines and tools we use are what we were given since the inception of the Centre in 1995. Currently, the most modern equipment here is almost a decade old; offered to us in 2010,” Mensah added.
A document Goldstreet Business is privy to, confirms that 49 final year students are currently owing school, hostel and feeding fees for the first, second and third terms, amounting to GHS14,275.00
The amount, Mensah noted, is even lower compared to what other students in the first and second years owe, and there are fears the situation could be worse in centres in other regions of the country.
The Centre, he said, has no option than to demand that such fees are paid before the students are allowed to write the forthcoming exams.
“We run solely on internally generated funds, mostly from such fees, to maintain the Centre, procure equipment and training materials, and pay teachers whose salaries do not come from government. Government only pays the salaries of our 16 teachers, but we contract additional trainers who are not on the government’s pay role,” he alleged.
By Wisdom Jonny-Nuekpe: Koforidua