The managers of private senior high schools (SHSs) have appealed to the government to include their schools in the implementation of its free SHS policy.
According to the managers, the 280 privately managed SHSs nationwide had been left out in the placement of candidates of Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) into SHSs.
They explained that the 2017/2018 academic year was the first time the Computerised Schools Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) had not placed a single student in private schools since it started in 2005 and said the situation, if not immediately addressed, could collapse their businesses.
Addressing the press in Accra on Wednesday, the General Secretary of the Conference of Heads of Private Second-cycle Schools (CHOPSS), Mr Joseph Dzamesi, called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, include private SHSs in the list of schools for self-placement.
“Our schools should be tagged as private and parents should be informed that when a private school is selected, the student will have to pay the school fees. With this, a student who may not be happy with the available public schools may select a private school,” he said.
A total of 424,092 BECE candidates qualified for placement in SHSs and technical institutes this year.
They were placed in 860 public SHS/technical and vocational institutes, including the 42 community day SHSs which the Ghana Education Service (GES) said would be ready by the time first-year students would report to school.
About 36,849 candidates were not placed because they scored Grade 9 in either English Language or Mathematics.
The government, last Tuesday, launched the free SHS policy.
The policy, the flagship educational programme of the government, seeks to increase access to secondary education by removing the burden of paying fees from parents.
Under the policy, the government will foot all bills of fresh SHS students, including feeding and tuition fees and all other charges.
Undermining contribution of private SHSs
Mr Dzamesi explained that private SHSs were yet to receive any student from the CSSPS, a situation which he said was likely to collapse the businesses of the owners of private SHSs because their first-year classrooms were entirely empty.
“We consider the development so far as undermining the contribution of private SHSs in the educational sector. It is as though the government is intentionally trying to collapse all private SHSs in this country,” he said.
Before the implementation of the free SHS policy, he said, private SHSs were made to believe that even with the free SHS, they had a role to play, but contrary to that assurance, the private SHSs had been sidelined.
“Over the past years, the CSSPS posted some students to private SHSs. As had been the practice, CHOPSS prepared an updated list of member schools and presented it to the CSSPS, with the understanding that, as had been done over recent years, some students would be posted to private SHSs, but that is yet to yield any result,” Mr Dzamesi said.
He said as everyone had discovered, only students who scored grade 9 in Mathematics and English Language were disqualified from placement into public SHSs, and for the first time not a single student was posted to a private SHS.
“What does it say about the government’s regard for private SHSs when it is ready to post 92 per cent of students who graduated from JHS into public SHSs and pay all their fees? Which students will patronise private SHSs? What is to happen to the millions of Ghana cedis that have been invested in our schools? What is to happen to the 10,000 plus Ghanaian workers who are currently employed in our schools?” he asked.
Extend free SHS policy
The President of CHOPSS, Mr I. K. Mensah, said going forward, the government must take steps to extend its free SHS policy to cover students in private SHSs.
“We suggest that the amount of money earmarked for each student to attend SHS be granted to the student, whether he or she attends a public or a private SHS,” he said.
He observed that such a system had been successfully implemented in the health sector, where the government partnered private health facilities to deliver quality health services to Ghanaians, leaving patients with the option of receiving health services in either public or private health facilities.
“We are calling for a system similar to what pertains in the health sector in Ghana under the National Health Insurance Scheme which was introduced by a New Patriotic Party (NPP) government,” Mr Mensah said.