Free SHS will collapse our schools; Private School heads complain

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Some heads of private senior high schools in the country have expressed disappointment at the government over the manner in which it has handled its free SHS policy.

The heads, who are having to deal with almost empty classrooms since the programme took off, say they have been completely neglected by government.

Speaking at the press conference in Accra on Wednesday, General Secretary of the Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools (CHOPSS), Joseph Dzamesi said before the programme was implemented, they were made to believe that their schools had a role to play, but that is not the case.

“We consider the development so far as undermining the contribution of private senior high schools in the educational sector. It is as though the government is intentionally trying to collapse all private senior high schools in the country,” he said.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday launched the free SHS policy at Adenta in Accra.

Free SHS Logo

The Free SHS Policy, a flagship education 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 would foot all bills including feeding fees, tuition fees and all other charges.

Over 142,000,000 eligible students would enjoy the programme which has already kicked off.

But as it stands, none of the private schools in the country were included in the self placement system which placed students in senior high schools across the country.

Mr Dzamesi said, although CHOPSS prepared an updated list of numbered schools and presented this list to the Computerised School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS) with the understanding that as was done over the previous years, some students will be posted to the private senior high schools but not one student was posted to any of the private schools- a development, heads of the private schools find unacceptable.

“What does this say about government’s regard for private senior high schools, when it is ready to post 92 percent of students who graduated from junior high schools into public senior high schools and pay all their fees.

“Which students will patronize private schools, what is to happen to the millions of Ghana cedis that have been invested into our schools, what is to happen to the 10,000 plus Ghanaian workers who are currently employed in our schools, what is the government’s plan to  provide a platform that gives our schools realistic chance to thrive,” Mr Dzamesi queried.

The heads want the government to, as a matter of urgency, include private SHS among the schools listed on the self placement website, the schools tagged ‘private’ and parents informed that when selected, their wards would have to pay fees.

They are also demanding among other things, that the government should extend the free SHS policy to cover students in private senior high schools also.

“We understand that government may not want to invest directly into private schools, we therefore request that the amount of money earmarked per student to attend senior high school be granted to the student, whether he or she attends a public or private senior high school.”

This for them is an investment in the Ghanaian child, not in the school

Citing government’s partnership with private health facilities for the implementation of the national health insurance scheme, Mr Dzamesi said a similar system can be implemented in the education sector where government subsidies will follow students irrespective of the institution where they access education.

“A policy of this nature will be more inclusive and will make secondary education free for Ghanaian children in the public schools and more affordable for those who attend private senior high schools,” he added.