In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, the management of some second-cycle schools expressed their readiness to reopen for the commencement of the 2023 academic year.
According to the management of some of the schools, they had put in place the necessary arrangements for second- and third-year continuing students to return to school for the resumption of academic activities.
In schools with boarding facilities, fumigation exercises have been carried out.
In terms of food items, while some of the schools have received their packages, others are expected to receive theirs by the close of today.
The Daily Graphic learnt that the regional offices of the National Food Buffer Stock Company Limited have been tasked to get in touch with local foodstuffs suppliers to deliver about 20 per cent of food needs to each school.
The remaining 80 per cent of the food items are expected to be in the schools a week or two after the arrival of the students to enable the government to settle part of its more than GH¢300 million indebtedness to suppliers.
The Daily Graphic team included Emmanuel Bonney, Delali Sika, Kwadwo Baffoe Donkor, Gilbert Mawuli Agbey and Haruna Wumpini.
The President of the Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary Schools (CHASS), Rev. Fr Stephen Owusu Sekyere, said members of CHASS were ready and prepared to receive the students.
“We are only waiting for money and food to feed the students. Aside from that, we are ready to receive them,” he told the Daily Graphic in Kumasi yesterday.
He said both teaching and non-teaching staff of the schools were ready to do their work and was hopeful that the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service (GES) would honour their commitment for the smooth running of schools.
Already, Rev. Fr Sekyere said, he was aware some schools had taken delivery of food items such as maize, rice and beans, saying the rest were yet to receive theirs.
He indicated that per the information CHASS had received, food supplies were on their way to the various regions and the schools should take delivery of them by the close of today.
On the issue of remittances for recurrent purchases and arrears due the schools, Rev. Fr Sekyere, who is the Headmaster of Opoku Ware Senior High School (SHS), said he had received assurance from the Director-General of the GES that money had been released to pay them.
“I have been told that some schools in the rural areas have received calls from the ARB Apex Bank to pick up their cheques,” he said.
“Those of us in the big cities who are with the Bank of Ghana, the GCB Bank and the rest are hoping that by the close of today the money will hit our accounts,” the CHASS President said.
“We need the money to hit our accounts so that we can feed the students in the evening when they report to school,” he said.
He expressed the hope that all things would go on smoothly in order to prevent any tension on the various school compounds arising out of food shortage or lack of money to affect the smooth running of the academic calender.
At the Odorgonno SHS, the Headmaster, Patrick Mensah, told Emmanuel Bonney that the school was very ready for reopening.
He confirmed that food items had started coming in and that teachers had also started their preparatory meetings.
“For human resource and logistics, they are set. The only thing we were waiting for was food, and we have seen indications it is coming in,” he said.
The authorities of the Accra High School also indicated that they were set for the resumption of academic work.
A management member who did not want to be named said the necessary arrangements were in place for school.
“All I can say is that we ready for the children to come,” the source indicated.
During a visit to the Presbyterian Boys' SHS (PRESEC), Legon about 11 a.m. yesterday, it was observed that some of students had started arriving.
“The safety of the students is paramount to us, but we are ready to receive them. Fumigation has been done and cleaning has also been done. We are just waiting for them to come. Some boarders are in and, hopefully, by the close of the week everyone will be present,” a tutor who gave information on condition of anonymity said.
The source said everything was intact for the arrival of the students, adding: “We can’t wait to start lessons from where we ended at the end of the last academic year.”
At the West Africa SHS at Adentan, the school environment was quiet at the time the Daily Graphic team visited.
Sources at the school said the arrival of boarding students was slow.
They said the school was yet to get its full consignment of food items.
At the Kwabenya SHS, there was nothing going on in the school but one of the tutors who declined to give his name noted that they were ready to receive the students.
Food trickles in
From the Upper East Region, our team reports that school authorities in SHSs are ready to receive first-year and continuing students to begin the new academic year.
However, checks indicated that many of the schools had not yet received food supplies ahead of the commencement of academic work.
The Chairman of the Upper East Regional branch of CHASS, Richard Akumbas Ayabilla, said only two out of the 26 SHSs in the region had received some food items from local suppliers.
"Since the schools owe local suppliers huge sums of money, the suppliers are not willing to supply more food items, especially the perishable ones, on credit," he said.
He called on the government to urgently make funds available to enable the schools to pay local suppliers, while awaiting food items from the Buffer Stock Company.
The Headmistress of the Bolgatanga Girls’ SHS, Patricia Agoteba Anaba, said although the staff were ready to receive the students, food items were not yet in.
However, she said the school expected to receive food items from the government by the close of yesterday.
Ms Anaba expressed the hope that while the students would start arriving from this morning, the food items would be received in time to feed them.
The Headmistress of the Kongo SHS, Gifty Ayamba, noted that the school was ready and had put in place measures to receive the students.
From Koforidua in the Eastern Region, Daily Graphic checks indicate that two schools, the Ghana SHS (GHANASS) and the Oti Boateng SHS, were fully prepared to receive continuing students.
The Headmistress of GHANASS, Patience Naki Mensah, said at least 20 boarding students had arrived as of yesterday and the kitchen staff were ready to provide them with meals.
She said under normal circumstances, such students should have waited for today to be fed along with other students who might have arrived on the opening day.
At the Oti Boateng SHS, the situation was the same and the Headmaster, John Hawkson Arthur, said adequate preparations to make boarding students feel at home on their arrival had been completed.
"We have made all the necessary arrangements to make the arriving boarding students happy to stay without any hindrance.
"Those responsible for the provision of food are also ready to play their part," Mr Arthur said.
The Buffer Stock Company started supplies last Wednesday and would continue until bulk suppliers in charge of delivering 80 per cent of the food needs of the schools stepped in, a source at the company told the Daily Graphic.
The strategy, it said, had been adopted since it took some time for the bulk suppliers to reach the schools.
“So while waiting for that bulk to come in, we asked our regional managers to liaise with local suppliers, so that they will handle 20 per cent of supplies,” the source said.
It added that “so far the items are trickling in at the various schools”.
The source at the Buffer Stock Company added that its information collected from across the country indicated that food items were reaching the various schools.