Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa[/caption] There are widespread allegations against headmasters of so-called first-class schools in the country for charging parents and guardians huge sums of money before placing the names of their children and wards. These heads are said to be under-declaring vacancies in their schools and offering available places to parents through syndicates. The practice, the Daily Graphic gathered, is widespread in Cape Coast, Accra, Kumasi, Ho, Takoradi, Koforidua and on the Akuapem and the Kwahu ridges. Some parents and guardians claim that some members of the syndicate have asked them to pay sums ranging from GH¢2,500 to GH¢6,000 to facilitate the admission of their children and wards to such privileged schools. Allegations by parents For instance, a parent (name withheld) who spoke to the Daily Graphic said she paid GH¢2,500 to get her daughter into one of the prestigious girls’ schools and insisted that some of the allegations were not rumours but real. However, she said she would decline to testify before the GES for fear that her daughter could become a victim. Another parent told the Daily Graphic that an officer of the GES requested her to pay GH¢2,500 each for her twins but she could only pay GH¢1,000 each, adding that some parents were even prepared to pay GH¢3,000 and more. Asked whether her children had not been placed at all, she said the boy was yet to be placed, but the girl had been placed in a technical school in the Eastern Region but she was not pleased with that. Another highly placed source told the Daily Graphic that the syndicate was working with officials of the GES, especially those at the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) Secretariat, to undermine the free senior high school (SHS) policy of the government. It called on the government not to take the matter as a mere rumour but get its intelligence network in place to expose the perpetrators.Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, has dismissed the allegations and challenged any member of the public who has paid money to get his or her child’s placement changed to come forward with evidence. He said the challenge the GES was saddled with was that even though there was that allegation, it was yet to officially receive any complaint backed by evidence. “So far, no one has come forward to point out any particular official who asked for money to enable him or her to facilitate the placement of a candidate in a particular school,” he stated in an interview in Accra yesterday. He, therefore, appealed to the public to assist the service with information on the alleged sale of admissions to enable it to deal with such culprits. He stressed that it was practically impossible for any headmaster to single-handedly admit a candidate under the CSSPS. Water-tight placement Prof. Opoku-Amankwa explained that the placement process was so water-tight that anyone who attempted to by-pass the process would be fished out. He said even the CSSPS Coordinator himself did not have access to the placement site unless he made a request to enable him to look at how the exercise was going. He said only two officials were mandated to key in the names under tight security, adding that even if any of the two officials tampered with the system, it would indicate which of them did it. Be wary of agents He, therefore, asked the public, especially parents, to be wary of people who claimed to be agents and collected money from parents under the pretext of placing their children in particular schools. He dismissed reports that some heads of schools under-declared their capacity to enable them to sell admission places to the highest bidder, explaining that each school was capped and no headmaster could admit any student outside the CSSPS “because none of the heads has the password”. Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said there were enough vacancies to absorb all the candidates but noted that the challenge was that every candidate wanted specific schools, a situation which was practically impossible.