Tettey-Enyo's Outfit Locked Out

Today marks two weeks since the National Board for Professional and Technician Examinations (NABPTEX) had its Secretariat located on the Abafun Crescent at Labone locked up by the landlady for supposed non-payment of rent. The office, near that of VIASAT 1 Television, has been secured with strong chains and a padlock at least since end of Monday August 17. When Public Agenda visited the Secretariat a second time before press time on Friday, another padlock had been added, apparently to foil any attempts by the tenant to enter the building. It is not clear how much rent is in dispute and for how long as nobody at NABPTEX wants to be drawn into any media reports. On Wednesday August 19, this reporter went to the Secretariat of the NABPTEX purposely for an update on polytechnic results only to find the main gate to the Secretariat strongly shackled. But later, Public Agenda learned from sources at the Ministry of Education that the Secretariat was locked due to the inability of the Ministry to settle the rent on behalf of the tenant. It is being rumoured that the same individual who allegedly brokered the Chinese deal for the supply of garments for the free school uniform initiative has "successfully" frustrated the process. Our sources at the ministry say this person has the ears of many people walking the corridors of power and has successfully impeded efforts at reaching an agreement with the owner of the house, which houses the NABPTEX. NABPTEX is one of the nation's key tertiary education units dedicated to the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector. Among other roles, it supervises the conduct of polytechnic examinations, releases results and issues Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and other certificates. Together with national bodies in the TVET sector and international partners like the Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation for Higher Education (NUFFIC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), NABPTEX has successfully piloted the Competency-Based Training (CBT) programme in the various polytechnics. The first batch of CBT graduates passed out at the end of the last academic year. NABPTEX has also been having negotiations with the Ghana Employers Association (GEA) and the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) on how to secure practical training for both lecturers and students of the polytechnics. The non-payment of the rent by the MoE, which has resulted in the locking out of workers of NABPTEX, is the latest slip up by the government as far as the educational sector is concerned. Since taking over in January, the government could not make available feeding grants for second cycle institutions. Some Heads of Assisted Schools sent several students home to ask their parents to provide various amounts of money for feeding due to shortage of food. In addition, government, in a bid to fulfill a campaign promise and against civil society opinion, has reverted the duration of the senior high school to three years from four years. Various functionaries explained away the action, which will take effect from the start of the new academic year in September, arguing that the four-year duration would help parents cut cost on educating their children. A few weeks ago, this newspaper broke the report on the attempt by the Ministry of Education to sidestep local textile companies and award the contract for the supply of garments for the free school uniform to Chinese firms. The report appeared to have turned around the situation as government hurriedly organized a sort of negotiation with local textile firms, which it invited television crews to cover. Again, hundreds of fourth-year students studying various modern languages in public universities are still awaiting government scholarship to travel abroad for a further one-year programme. The students are required to travel to countries where the respective languages of study are spoken to acquire aural and other competencies.