Six national service persons are in a tango with the headmistress of a private senior high school over their reposting to another school after they have found out that the SHS they have been posted to has only student.
The school, the Dansoman SHS, is owned by Mrs Elizabeth Daniels and offers courses in General Arts and Business only.
The only student of the school, a girl, is in SHS Three and preparing to write the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in April.
Although the six service persons receive their monthly allowances paid them by the National Service Secretariat (NSS), they claim they are unproductive at their current place of posting and fear that can hurt their future job-hunting prospects.
They have thus asked to be released, so that they can be reposted by the NSS.
But the headmistress and owner of the school is reluctant to endorse their release letters.
In a reluctant interview with the Daily Graphic, Mrs Daniels said she had refused to endorse the release letters because she felt she needed the services of the service persons and also some had been playing truant.
Although she blamed the current poor enrolment on the ‘negative’ effect of the free SHS policy introduced by the government, she was nonetheless hopeful that things would turn around and the service persons would be needed.
“I’m not frustrated. I admit that currently there is a challenge, but it is my problem; I will fix it; I will surely fix it,” Mrs Daniel, who tried to ward off questions from the Daily Graphic team, said matter-of-factly.
She, however, prevented the team from interviewing the only student of the school.
While officials of the NSS said the service persons posted to the school were being paid their allowances by the secretariat, just like other service persons posted to educational and health institutions, they admitted that they had very little information about the Dansoman SHS.
The District Education Office could not immediately respond to the concerns raised by the Daily Graphic team.
The school, founded in 1995, is sited in a residential neighbourhood near Dansoman Last Stop.
It is a walled property with a main gate and a smaller gate for people to enter or exit. There are six classrooms, five of which were locked when the team first visited the school in December last year.
On January 13, this year when the team went back, all the classrooms were locked. The uniform is a yellow shirt and blue skirt for females and a pair of shorts for the male.
Three rooms used as the administration and the staff common room are on the same block as the classrooms. There is a big compound, and at the extreme end of the plot of land is a small gate that leads to a house reported to be Mrs Daniels’s residence.
When the team visited the school, there was a handwritten notice of ‘Admission for Forms One and Two in progress’ on a board at the entrance of the school.
On the first visit, the only student, wearing the school’s prescribed Lacoste over a blue skirt, was in one of the classrooms studying by herself.
The service persons
The service persons are made up of five males and a female. The males have been posted to teach ICT, History, Government, Integrated Science and Core Mathematics, while the female teaches Economics and Social Studies. She also doubles as secretary to the headmistress, with one of the males acting as administrator.
The six are concerned about not just spending their meagre resources to travel every day to the school but also their being unproductive.
“I spend GH¢11 on transportation every day to school, but sometimes I do not meet the student, who chooses when she wants to be in school or absent herself.
“I can see our service is not benefiting the nation. We want to go somewhere else where our services are needed and not sit idle. Besides, we want to gain working experience to help us search for jobs after the service,” one of them told the Daily Graphic.
They indicated that when they first reported to the school, there were four students there, but by October last year three of them left, leaving only the girl.
One of the six who had an assurance letter told the Daily Graphic that he had reported to the National Service Secretariat (NSS) at the Airport Residential Area on two different occassions last year but had been refused reposting.
“I went to the NSS Headquarters twice to report the issue at hand and to seek reposting with an assurance letter, but they kept on telling me they couldn’t do anything about it unless the headmistress gave us a release letter,” he said.
Another NSP who expressed his displeasure about the situation revealed that he was initially posted to the Ngleshie Amanfron SHS at Kasoa for his national service but later got posted to the Dansoman SHS.
“I was reposted to the Dansoman SHS; meanwhile I had already started work at Ngleshie Amanfron SHS and had not asked for reposting. I came here only for me to find that there is not much for me to do. I have tried to get another reposting, but that has not been possible,” he said.
When the team arrived at the school, Mrs Daniels was in her office and the team was led to her office by the service person who doubles as an administrator.
She seemed busy and was reluctant to grant an interview. But after a few minutes, she decided to talk when asked about the fate of the service persons.
She confirmed that she had, indeed, refused to release the six service persons because she needed their services.
“I believe that one student makes a school and so the national service persons have every reason to come to school to teach,” she emphasised
She confirmed that as she did every year, she wrote to officially request for the services of the service persons to teach the various subjects for the courses offered
Mrs Daniels further explained that per the agreement, the NSS paid the six persons, as the current situation did not make it possible for her to remunerate service persons as she did in the past.
“We were not doing badly, but student enrolment has declined due to the introduction of the free SHS policy. Those who usually did not get admission to the regular schools would come over, but since the free SHS and the extension of the minimum grades required, our school has been affected,” she said.
Mrs Daniel declined to grant a further interview, and when the team visited her on the second occasion, she flatly refused to talk, saying: “It is my problem and I intend to fix it. If other private SHSs have been badly affected by the free SHS policy and they want to talk about it, I don’t want to do so. If you don’t mind, leave my office, as I have a report to write.”
Then she curtly walked the team out of her office.
The Deputy Executive Director of the NSS, Dr Gifty Oware, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that the NSS posted people to schools, including private ones that were accredited by the Ghana Education Service (GES).
She said the NSS posted people to private schools on request and it took care of their allowances as well, adding: “We pay them because they are supposed to be giving back to society.”
According to her, all national service persons were to serve the nation by utilising their knowledge to impact society and also find solutions to individual and community problems, adding: “I don’t think the national service persons at the Dansoman SHS have issues.”
She suggested that they stay at their current post and help revamp the school by marketing it to parents and their children to patronise it.
Although Dr Oware indicated that the service persons seeking reposting had not gone through the right channel because they should have reported the issue to the district office, instead of going straight to the National Secretariat, she assured them that “they will be reposted with immediate effect, on condition that they come with assurance letters from other prospective organisations who want to engage them”.
District Education Unit
When the Daily Graphic visited the Ablekuma West Municipal Assembly, the Municipal Education Director, Mr Christian Afolah, confirmed that the Dansoman SHS was under the jurisdiction of the municipality.
However, he said, he could not offer much help with regard to the issue at stake, as he assumed office barely six months ago.
He thus referred the team to the Accra Metro Unit, which had earlier directed the team to the district office.