Bonaboto asks senior high schools in Northern Ghana to close down over neglect, warns of protest

Students of Tamale Senior High School
Students of Tamale Senior High School

BONABOTO, a non-partisan developmental association of persons from the Frafra Traditional Area of the Upper East Region, has called on heads of senior high schools in the three regions of the North to close down the schools if government fails to pay feeding grants by the end of the month. Bonaboto says it has arrived at this decision because of the refusal of government pay the feeding grants for students in the area after many appeals.

When news recently broke over the non-payment of feeding grants, government said it had released funds for the payment, but Bonaboto says its checks with the heads of the schools proves otherwise. The association said in a press statement released on Tuesday that, “the government has secretly indicated that it has no funds to pay the feeding grants and has directed the headmasters and headmistresses of the said schools to use the fees that the students pay to feed them. The heads have had no choice than to comply.

“What most of the heads have also done is to actually use the fees that the students have paid for other purposes to feed the students. The schools have, therefore, been deprived of the use of these fees for purpose for which they were levied. However, the most depressing result of this directive is that the heads have also prevented the students who cannot pay the fees from entering the dining halls and, therefore, from feeding from the school.”

Bonaboto is therefore calling on heads of senior high schools in the region to close down the schools if the grants are not released by the end of this month:

“Finally, BONABOTO wishes to call on all heads of the SHS in the three Northern regions to close down the schools if no funds are received by the end of the month to enable the students return home and let their parents know about their plight. BONABOTO may also have no choice than to mobilise its membership as well as the students who are suffering this plight to demonstrate in the various towns where they are located to compel the government to act positively on the matter. BONABOTO also calls on all other people and groups from the three Northern regions and others who have the people of the three Northern regions at heart should join BONABOTO to fight this worthy cause.”

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Below is the full press statement released by the national secretariat of Bonaboto:

BONABOTO, ACCRA.                                                                                              18th October, 2016

For the past two weeks, BONABOTO has taken time to check on the fulfilment of the promise by the government that it has paid feeding grants to the Senior Secondary Schools in the three Northern regions. We talked to some Heads of these schools, students and other stakeholders during this period and found no evidence of any such payment. This was confirmed this week by the Headmaster of Tamale Senior High School on behalf of his colleagues. This is in spite of the government’s public announcement that it has released funds to the Senior High Schools in the three Northern Regions as feeding grant. Sadly, the government has secretly indicated that it has no funds to pay the feeding grants and has directed the headmasters and headmistresses of the said schools to use the fees that the students pay to feed them. The heads have had no choice than to comply.

What most of the heads have also done is to actually use the fees that the students have paid for other purposes to feed the students. The schools have, therefore, been deprived of the use of these fees for purpose for which they were levied. However, the most depressing result of this directive is that the heads have also prevented the students who cannot pay the fees from entering the dining halls and, therefore, from feeding from the school. BONABOTO finds the situation untenable because it knows that if the government sees the feeding grants of our SHS students as a priority, it will find the money to pay.

BONABOTO has complained severally about the perennial delays and sometimes refusals of governments to pay the feeding grant of the students of the SHS in the three Northern regions but to no avail. It is sad that the Mahama-led government which includes persons who have benefited from this facility in the past should fail and/or refuse to make the payment of feeding grants to the schools a priority.

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Without any relief to the schools and the students from this continuous hardship, the heads are compelled to purchase foodstuffs on credit and continue to be harassed by the suppliers who have lost patience as a result of government’s failure to release the funds to the schools. The suppliers also tend to sell the foodstuffs to the schools are very high prices to make up for the long delays which sometimes result in high interests on loans taken from the banks. It is regrettable that the feeding grants, which are supposed to have been budgeted for, have been pending for more than one year. BONABOTO wants to re-iterate its point made in an earlier Press Release that the perennial occurrence of this issue and its consequential effects on the entire Northern part of this country suggest that, as a nation, we have lost total focus on the undisputed fact that education is an essential ingredient in containing under-development, reducing poverty and, above all, could create to civil unrest as witnessed in other countries in Africa.

BONABOTO wants to remind our leaders, particularly our representatives in Parliament, that they have failed the people who have elected them to represent them. BONABOTO is saddened by the fact that no single Parliamentarian from the three Northern regions has made this an issue of debate and/or called on the Ministers of Finance and Education to answer questions on government’s failure to address this perennial issue. The students have had to endure this deliberate marginalizing action or inaction by various governments, which have contributed to the widening development disparities in this country while their colleagues in other parts of the country benefit from other scholarships.

BONABOTO has no option than to conclude that this action or inaction of the government is a deliberate and carefully crafted policy, supported by our own representatives in government whose children do not face these problems, to keep the northern part of the country in perpetual underdevelopment and, hence, to continue widening the inequality gap. The policy was put in place because as a country, we all acknowledged that there is a developmental gap between the north and south, especially with regards to education, that ought to be bridged. This unfortunate but avoidable situation is, therefore, a testament of bad faith from government, in fact, all governments, present and past, of a deliberate marginalization tactic and an affront to our collective conscience as a nation.

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BONABOTO wishes to call on the government to, as a matter of urgency, settle all outstanding arrears owed the schools in the three Northern regions to salvage the schools from collapse, a situation that will otherwise worsen the already unsatisfactory performance of students in the schools in this part of the country.

Finally, BONABOTO wishes to call on all heads of the SHS in the three Northern regions to close down the schools if no funds are received by the end of the month to enable the students return home and let their parents know about their plight. BONABOTO may also have no choice than to mobilise its membership as well as the students who are suffering this plight to demonstrate in the various towns where they are located to compel the government to act positively on the matter. BONABOTO also calls on all other people and groups from the three Northern regions and others who have the people of the three Northern regions at heart to join BONABOTO to fight this worthy cause.

Issued by the BONABOTO National Secretariat, Accra

Vitus Adaboo Azeem                 Andrews Akolaa (PhD)                         Philip Atinga

National President                     National Vice President                          National Secretary

0244233512                               0266000022                                           0202870039

For further clarification, please, contact the following persons:

Mr. Emmanuel Ayire                                          Mr. Stanley Abopam

National Public Relations Officer                         Public Relations Officer (Bolgatanga – Home – branch)

BONABOTO is an Association of Citizens of the Bolgatanga, Nangode, Bongo and Tongo towns and their environs. It is a non-partisan developmental association that has been in existence since the early 1990s.

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