The Conference of Heads of Private Secondary Schools (CHOPSS) says at least 20 private senior high schools (SHSs) in the country have folded up as a result of the implementation of the Free SHS Policy in Ghana.
While the number of jobs lost is yet to be accounted for, the Public Relations Officer of CHOPSS, Mr Naphtali Kyei-Baffuor, said although some of the schools had the capacity to admit between 2,000 and 3,000 students, they were shutting down because of inadequate students.
“Are we going to sit down and fold our arms and watch the others collapse? We have some schools which are more or less on life support.
We have some schools that have students in the second year going to the third year, and if they don’t get candidates for the first year, it means in a year or two, they will collapse as well,” he lamented.
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Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Daily Graphic’s National Dialogue on Education Policy in Ghana, Mr Kyei-Baffuor said the government was creating a desperate situation to implement the education policy when there were better alternatives.
He cited the example of the Jabez SHS in the Central Region which, he said, had the capacity to admit at least 2,000 students but had shut down.
“The buildings and dormitories are now empty and the owner is thinking of what to do with it,” he added.
With the government announcing the double track system as a solution to dealing with a 181,000-space deficit in public schools, Mr Kyei-Baffuor said the country’s 250 private schools had the capacity to absorb 250,000 students.
“You have 180,000 deficits, if you post 500 students to each school, a huge chunk of the deficit will be absorbed. Prior to the rolling out of the free SHS, you were posting 700 to 800 students to some of the schools, so there would have been no headache for double track.
You just need to monitor them to ensure that the quality they are producing meets the required standard.
“You are seeing the double track as a desperate measure for a desperate situation but I am sorry to disappoint you, we don’t see this as a desperate situation. We feel there is a way out and we feel we have a quota to contribute,” he said earlier in his submissions at the dialogue.
In his reaction, a Deputy Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Adutwum, said the issues were not as simple as the CHOPSS had indicated, emphasising that the government had no plans to enrol students in private schools.
Currently, private schools in Rwanda are facing similar challenges as a result of low patronage.
This followed the government’s 12-year basic education policy which makes public schools affordable and preferable.
The government invested hugely in expanding capacity and teaching infrastructure at public schools across the country, introduced school feeding programme and also abolished the payment of school fees.