General News of Thu, 14 Sep 20176
Free SHS: Government open to engaging with private schools
As the free senior high school education policy takes effect, the government may not be able to assuage the fears of private senior high schools in the short-term, but it is open to formal proposals on how it can collaborate with schools in the private sector, going forward.
Speaking to Citi News, a Deputy Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said the government is looking to have “them come to the table with a formal proposal of how they would want to, through their private means, execute this government programme and we would want to engage with them.”
The start of the Free SHS policy has been accompanied by fears from private schools that they could be out of business as their enrollment has dropped significantly because of the attraction of free education.
The Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools called on the government to expand the coverage of the free SHS policy to include private schools to save them from possible collapse. The MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, further noted that the government could lessen its burden to provide educational infrastructure if it engages with the private schools. Mr. Oppong Nkrumah admitted that the private schools suffered some collateral damage and assured that the government was working to resolve the challenges, albeit with a focus on the public school system.
“There is no effort to thwart what private people are doing. It is just that, what government is doing, it is focusing on doing it and doing it well.”
“We would encourage the private institutions to dialogue with government and to perhaps present to government ways by which they can also be a channel for the smooth execution of the programme, and we will be willing to engage with them on that front,” he said.
Free SHS optional
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah also reminded that, the policy did not make it compulsory to attend public schools.
“There are beneficiaries, who in spite of all that we are doing, may not want to avail themselves to the benefits and instead, may want to go to a private school for one or two reasons. There is no inhibition or so whatsoever for someone who wants to opt out of the programme and pursue a private course.”