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Consider private schools in the free SHS policy

Sun, 29 Nov 2020 Source: Osei Tutu

When the Free SHS policy took off in 2017, administrators of private SHSs made a number of propositions to government for consideration.

One of them was that government should post students to the private schools, pay the same amount the government is spending on each student in the boarding house and the private schools would take care of their tuition without charging the students any extra fees.

To me, the proposal was very laudable. It would have cost the government less and there wouldn't have been the need for the double-track system. This is because the private schools have the capacity to absorb the excess students that created the need for the double-track system.

Strangely the government did not adopt the proposal and this has put the private schools in ICU since then. Some have actually collapsed.

The government's explanation for not adopting the proposal was that it could not vouch for the calibre of teachers who would handle the students.

As genuine a concern this explanation might sound, it is rather far fetched. If the government could not vouch for the calibre of the teachers in the private schools, why allow them to operate in the first place?

The truth is most of the teachers in the private SHSs are first degree holders. They might not be professional teachers but they have the requisite knowledge and skills to handle the students at that level.

It is also true that government is putting up some infrastructure in a bid to end the double-track system. But this is rather taking place at a slow pace.

According to the Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, the then NDC government was able to complete 29 of the E-bock schools and the NPP has added another 28 making 57. But this is not enough to end the double track.

Our surest bet is to assess the capacity of the private schools and include some of them in the free SHS policy.

Now that the NDC party is promising to include the private schools in the free SHS policy if it wins power in the upcoming elections, maybe the NPP government will give the idea a favourable consideration.

Columnist: Osei Tutu
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