The Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) is worried that the many challenges of free SHS that have arisen during the implementation of government’s Free Senior High School (SHS) would negatively affect the performance of students who will write the WASSCE later this year.
GNAPS insists that the problems of the Free SHS which include lack of residential and classroom accommodation, lack of supervision of teachers and the long breaks between semesters have affected the quality of secondary education in public institutions.
Speaking to the GBC at Wa, the Acting President of GNAPS, Dr. Damasus Tuurosong said the argument that it is better for everyone to have a little education is invalid as it spells doom for national development.
“No one should tell me that it is better for everyone to have a little bit of education. A little bit of education is a dangerous thing. Why is it a dangerous thing? You would assume that you know when you do not know and someone who assumes that he or she knows when the person knows not is a very difficult person to orient,” he said.
Dr. Tuurosong added that “as a result of the gradual deterioration, we are getting to a point where at the tertiary level, the quality is equally sinking”.
The Free Senior High School Policy is a government policy which states that every Ghanaian child who qualifies for and is placed in a public second cycle institution will have their fees absorbed by the government. The program began in September 2017.
According to the Acting President of Ghana National Association of Private Schools GNAPS, Dr. Damasus Tuurosong, owners of private second cycle institutions did not oppose the implementation of the program, rather, they sought a Public-Private Partnership from the government with regard to the Free SHS policy. He said the government could have absorbed part of the cost of running private senior high schools as is done in the health sector with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Dr. Tuurosong explained that the government’s refusal to engage widely with stakeholders has led to some challenges with the program.
“Do not think that the challenges with the implementation of the Free SHS have only to do with residential and classroom accommodation so that when they tell you they have built infrastructure, you say hallelujah the problem is solved,” he insisted.
“When we talk about the challenges, it is not just challenges of space. Yes, the challenge of space is a reality. Beyond the issue of space that they will struggle to keep abreast with, the issue of other challenges that come in the form of social challenges, academic challenges, and infrastructure, all those would cumulate in order to reduce performance in the coming years,” he said.
Dr. Tuurosong continued that the challenges relate to “even feeding, resources to feed the so many people who are getting into those schools. Those resources are not there”.
Dr. Tuurosong threw a challenge stating that “you [media] come and let us have this debate when the first batch of the [Free] SHS comes out”. When quizzed on whether the impact of the results would be positive or negative, he answered that the results would be negative due to the many challenges.
The Acting President of GNAPS who doubles as the Owner and Proprietor of Tupaso Centre of Academic Excellence alleged that several headmasters have come under pressure to manage schools adding that they have been prevented from shutting down schools when they did not have the funds to continue operating them, saying that some heads of schools were even threatened as a result of such developments.
The Acting President of GNAPS, Dr. Damasus Tuurosong said due to the lack of data, the government has recruited so many teachers who tend to idle in a number of schools because they do not have subjects to teach.
Dr. Tuurosong added that the government’s heavy expenses in the education sector due to the Free SHS program are affecting other sectors like roads, agriculture, and health.
To help relieve the government of the challenges of the program and improve the quality of education at second-cycle levels, GNAPS is calling on the government to subsidize the cost of accessing education from private senior high schools in the country.
Dr. Tuurosong believes that the move will also help keep private school businesses stay afloat, saying that “it is never in the interest of government for private schools to collapse”.
“The evidence now is clear already with the folding up of many of them, the government is struggling to deal with the numbers,” he added.
Dr. Damasus Tuurosong said GNAPS is ready to engage with the government to surmount the challenges in the education sector.
Story filed by Mark Smith.