Achimota Preparatory School is not a private school, Deputy Minister of Education Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum has said.
According to him, the school was built by expatriates with the sponsorship of the government of Ghana several decades ago on a property belonging to the state, thus, cannot be said to be a private school.
Dr Adutwum was speaking in an interview with Benjamin Akakpo on the Executive Breakfast Show concerning the recurrent tussle by the school and the Ghana Education Service – the recent episode being the GES’ move to take over the school this week despite stiff opposition by the PTA of the institution.
“All that I need to tell you is that the truth is in the middle, so, nobody should have entrenched positions; the entrenched positions will not help matters – whether it’s the preparatory school governing board or it’s the Ghana Education Service, the truth is in the middle because the preparatory school cannot say that it’s a private school. No. Because: 1, it’s on government land and 2, it was founded by a group of expatriates”, Dr Adutuwm said.
“Maybe the community, the management has added more facilities but the founding was to serve some expatriate workers many years ago, so, it wasn’t founded as a private school. I think it was by a group of people with sponsorship from government; that’s why they were able to build it on government land.
“So, [for], me the bottom line is this: I’m not looking at the adults, I’m looking at the children. The children are real human beings whose future should concern all of us and that is why it’s important for GES and the management of the school to sit at the table and resolve the issue and make sure that the children will have quality education.
“To me, that is the most important thing, everything else is not important to me. The children are the most important people and they shouldn’t be pawns in our hands and we are fighting and saying: ‘Who is in charge of this?’ and ‘Who is in charge of that’. At the end of the day, I believe that we should look at the faces of the children and then retreat from our entrenched positions and come to a point that we’ll dialogue more and find an amicable solution.
“So, the moment you say that: ‘They have nothing to do; they cannot come here’, they’ll say: ‘We want to come here; we want to show you that we have something to do’. And that’s not a position that’s serving the children well. So, that is what I will say and when I go to the office, I’ll be getting GES to brief me more. Let us make sure that we solve this with the children in mind and the children at heart; that is what is important to me”, the minister said.
He added that: “It’s not a takeover; this is different from takeover”, adding: “That’s why I’m saying that if you hold on to an entrenched position, you’ll never be able to resolve this”.
According to him, the law is on the side of the GES as far as the ownership issue is concerned.
“I did land economy as my first degree and there is something about property ownership. Even if the building is yours, if you built it on somebody’s land, it becomes part of the land. That is the law. Not after a period of time. The moment you build on somebody’s land, the building belongs to them. That is the law – if you don’t have a lease from the person, if you don’t have the authority and you build on somebody’s land, and you have no document to show that: ‘You gave me the permission’; that building belongs to the person, but, to me, the most important thing is not who owns it, it’s the children and that is why we need to come to the table and resolve it.
“At the end of the day, it is educating the children of Ghana and that to me is more important than who owns the land, who controls the property; it’s about how those children will receive uninterrupted education and that, to me, is more important than anything”, he noted.