One hundred identity card printers acquired at a cost of GH¢1,038,150 by some senior high schools (SHSs) in the country have become white elephants.
CHASS, GES, company in tussle over ID card printers
Rev. Jonathan Bettey, confirmed that a consultant had been given the task of printing the cards.
This is because a new directive says from the first term of the 2015/2016 academic year, E-cards will be centrally printed for first-year students by a consultant appointed by the Ghana Education Service (GES).
About 100 SHSs purchased the card printers at a cost of $2,700 each.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the GES, Rev. Jonathan Bettey, confirmed that a consultant had been given the task of printing the cards.
He stated, however, that the decision was taken in consultation with the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), as “no decision is taken without CHASS”.
However, an executive member of CHASS said the association “never gave the go-ahead for the project”.
In another interview, the consultant Mr Michael Owiredu of Marichael Links Co Ltd, said, “This was a collective decision taken during a CHASS conference in September.”
He said the directive was in line with the government’s vision of transforming Ghana into a cashless society, with the aim of adding value to what was already in existence.
According to him, the shift from issuing plastic identity cards to E-cards to students would benefit the GES, parents, students and the public.
Mr Owiredu said the concept, which is a patent right, was initiated by his company and “presented to the GES, the Ministry of Education and CHASS and collectively we all agreed that the initiative is the way forward”.
The E-cards, he added, would not only serve as identity cards, but also a payment platform with the biodata of students.
He described the identity (ID) cards that were issued by the schools as “any plastic cards that can be designed by anybody”.
His firm, he reiterated, would provide a secure card that would benefit all stakeholders.
Mr Owiredu further pointed out that currently, SHS students did not enjoy benefits such as access to libraries, discounts on transportation fares and non-payment of fares on all Metro Mass buses because their ID cards could not be authenticated.
He cited some benefits of the E-card as transforming Ghana into a cashless society, beginning with the youth, controlling spending by students, curtailing thievery among students, instilling the savings habit in students and providing comprehensive data that could be used by the ministry for planning and research.
He further stated that as a payment platform, the card could be used to withdraw money from all Visa ATMs and also connected to a mobile money wallet.
“With the biodata of students captured on the cards, in emergency situations details of parents can be retrieved easily by sending the student’s unique ID number to a short code without referring to the student’s folder,” he added.
Mr Owiredu said the students would be billed GH¢7 per card, which is GH¢1 less than what they paid for the ID cards provided by their schools.
“Out of the amount, GH¢3 will be paid to the respective schools of the students and the rest will go to Marichael Links Co Ltd,” he said.
He explained further that Marichael Links Co Ltd had entered into a partnership arrangement with a bank and a mobile network which would enable students who are clients of the two institutions to make withdrawals at no cost, while those who are clients of other banks and mobile money networks would have to pay for the withdrawals they would make.
“All students, however, will earn interest on all the money retained on the card and parents can also make monthly contributions on the cards towards the payment of their children’s fees,” Mr Owusu said.
Contrary to the claims made by Rev. Bettey and the consultant, a source at CHASS had indicated that the association’s executive ‘never gave a go-ahead” for the project to take off.
The source explained that the consultant informed a CHASS executive meeting in Tamale in July 2015 that he had been mandated to print E-cards for all first-year students.
Following his inability to provide satisfactory answers to questions on what the schools should do with their own printers, he was given the opportunity to be present at the CHASS conference slated for September, which he did not attend.
The source further stated that the subject was mentioned briefly at the conference by a director of the GES, following which they discovered that new students had been billed for E-cards.
“Heads of schools are comfortable with printing their own cards because it is timely and replacements are easy,” it added.
In another interview, Mr Edward Addo, the Managing Director of Quixmo Services, a company that deals in the sale and servicing of the printers owned by the schools, indicated that he had demonstrated to an immediate past executive member of CHASS that the printers could print E-cards.
He also mentioned that although he honoured an invitation to make a presentation during the CHASS conference, he was not given the opportunity to do so.
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