The old student association and some concerned staff members of Mount Mary Demonstration Roman Catholic (R/C) Junior High School in the Lower Manya Krobo municipality, Eastern Region, have called for reinstatement of some nine reposted teachers of the school.
This call is based on a decision that has been described as the use of influence-peddling by the school’s headmaster to transfer old staff members who sought to query his actions and demand accountability for monies collected from students for various initiatives without any work to show.
In a statement, the executive body of Mount Mary Demonstration Old Students Association (MOMADOSA) said its attention has been drawn to the sudden reposting of nine academic staff members of the school – and replacing them with just two teachers, a situation that has led to understaffing.
President-MOMADOSA, Dr. Gideon Tetteh, in a petition titled ‘Bring Back the Nine Reposted Teachers’, outlined a series of issues that led to a fallout between the teachers and headteacher of the school, Christian Mensah.
The old student association believes that replacing nine teachers with two raises serious understaffing concerns, which should not be taken lightly if the integrity of the best public basic school in the municipality is of importance to the local education directorate.
Illegal charges and embezzlement allegations
The petition alleged that the headmaster has been charging fees that are not in line with Ghana Education Service (GES) policy; and in addition, PTA dues were also said to be misused.
For instance, between 2014 to 2019 the headmaster charged Information Communication Technology (ICT) levies of GH¢2 per student meant for investment in ICT resources; but there is nothing to show for it to date. Again, students were levied GH¢20 each for a pavilion that did not see the light of day.
Also, students were made to pay Parent Teacher Association (PTA) levies of GH¢30 every term.
Mr. Mensah is also accused of charging GH¢301 as admission fee, collecting GH¢1.50 every day from vendors at the canteen.
The sale of report cards for GH¢5 and crests for GH¢7 – which is supposed to be Internally Generated Funds (IGF) – go into the headmaster’s pocket, they claimed.
The fallout with teachers
At the school’s last PTA meeting, some members requested accounts be rendered on the levies collected and how they have been used, since there is nothing significant to show thus far.
In response, the headmaster said the PTA chairperson – who was absent at the said meeting – is in a better position to render the accounts.
The accounts have since not been rendered, and a section of teachers took it upon themselves to demand accountability on the headmaster’s part.
Unhappy with the accountability advocacy, the angry headmaster threatened to transfer all of them – and subsequently embarked on a mission that saw all nine teachers reposted effective 26th October 2023.
Response from teachers
Two of the transferred teachers, who spoke to B&FT anonymously, mentioned that the transfer letters they received stated they had overstayed their current post (more than five years), hence the transfer.
They mentioned that even though the labour act allows for one to be transferred after five years if the person’s services are needed importantly somewhere else, it is not mandatory.
They also lamented the extortion and embezzlement of funds going on in the school, urging old students to stand up and fight for the integrity of their alma mater.
“We are shocked by the decision repost us because we have been at Mount Mary for more than 10 years. The Ghana Education Service (GES) do not have any mandatory regulation that demands that when you are 10 years at a post you must be transferred at all costs,” one said.
Responding to a question on whether they would like to go back to the school, one said: “I have worked hard over the years to see Mount Mary recognised as best in the municipality, and would love to continue my service there – but I won’t return under the same headmaster.
“I will only return under one condition; and that is when a new headmaster is appointed, because the current situation is bad for academic performance,” said the other teacher.
Impact of the transfer
The teachers’ transfer took effect on October 26th 2023 – but according to a teacher at the school, by close of the current term’s third academic week, no academic work has taken place owing to admissions and transfer of teachers.
MOMADOSA demands answers
The old students of Mount Mary Demonstration see the action as a deliberate attempt to bring the school’s name into disrepute, and also cause a decline in discipline and academic performance.
“We are by this letter requesting that all the reposted teachers be brought back to Mount Mary, or be replaced accordingly to address understaffing. We however call on all parents not to withdraw their wards from the school, but rather remain calm as efforts are advanced to change the narrative,” a portion of the petition read.
The petition was appended by General Secretary-MOMADOSA, Lydia Lamptey.
The School’s Headmaster
The headmaster, in response, refuted the claims that he influenced the teachers’ transfer – but declined to comment on the embezzlement of funds charge unless he gets approval from the municipal director of education to talk.
Education Directorate of Municipality Response
Director of Education, Lower Manya Krobo Municipality, Samuel Kwesi Tetteh, explained that the municipality’s performance in general has been abysmal over the past few years since he took over; adding that the reposting was a general exercise to redeploy resources to less performing areas to enhance general performance within the municipality.
He mentioned that about 150 teachers have been reshuffled so far, and in due time all the nine transferred teachers will be replaced.
“We are not willing to pull down one school and lift up another. We are reshuffling teachers in the municipality to improve abysmal performances in the area compared to our neighbours, he added.
CAPCOE’s stake in the matter
Civil Society Organisation (CSO) the Campaign Against Privatisation and Commercialisation of Education (CAPCOE), speaking on the matter, mentioned that transferring teachers who have served more than five years at their current post is not illegal. It however said transferring all in one go is quite unfortunate, as it might affect the academic activities.
Its convener, Richard Kwashie Kovey added: “The old students and PTA should negotiate in a manner that all nine are not transferred at a go. Maybe two at a time to maintain the integrity of teaching and discipline. The stakeholder engagement must also include the Parish Priest, through the regional manager of Catholic Schools, to meet with the municipality’s Director of Education”.