From Ernest Best Anane, Kumasi
The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) has vehemently kicked against the government’s decision to hand over the management of public pre-tertiary schools to the private sector.
GNECC’s opposition to the project is based on unpleasant results from the implementation of the project in other African countries.
It is gathered that the government of Ghana would, effective September this year, allow some individuals and organisations to take over the management of some low performing basic schools in the country, in the name of the Ghana Partnership Schools (GPS), under Public Private Partnership (PPP).
Under the system, the managers would work for a commission based on the achievements of agreed learning outcomes in those schools, which should have primary, kindergarten, Junior High School (JHS), with, at least, 300 students enrolled across classes, and that these schools should not need any immediate rehabilitation.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) and churches, per attached conditions, will have the autonomous right to transfer teachers if they feel they are not fit for the purpose of the headteachers of their choice.
The soon-to-be-rolled-out GPS policy would absorb selected hundred public basic schools for the exercise, as pilot projects, and that institutions that stand the chance of qualifying would need to satisfy some requirements.
The objectives of the project, as indicated by the Ministry of Education, are to promote an innovative solution to the challenges in public education delivery, and to facilitate greater efficiency.
With the GPS project, the proposed per unit cost of education is about 20% more than the current cost the government incurs, meaning the policy is 20% more expensive than the regular school management by the Ghana Education Service (GES).
But, Mr. Mike Owusu, Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), has explained at a day’s workshop in Kumasi that it is the duty of the Ministry of Education to resource and empower circuit supervisors, school heads and teachers, while creating an accountable system that rewards performing indicators, and sanctions non-performing ones.
The participants, drawn from the Bono, Bono East and Ashanti regions, including the Ghana National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), National Association of Teachers (GNAT), media and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), deliberated on the GPS project and the effect on the educational system.
Mike Owusu said, considering that the Ministry of Education has always cited resource constraints for the deficits mentioned, adopting a Public Private Partnership (PPP) would only mean delaying the fulfillment of these obligations by the government.
According to the GNECC, the project would be funded by the World Bank and other international organisations as a loan to the government of Ghana for the running of the project.
The executives of the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), after deliberating on the policy, concluded that any attempt by the government to introduce the latter into the educational system could generate a catastrophic outcome.
Mr. Fetus Longmartey, Project Officer of the GNECC, stated that the GPS does not, in any way, promote accessibility, since it targets schools concentrated in the urban areas, and not those in the rural communities.
The project, he observed, would create incentives for schools to exclude the poorest children and children with disabilities, and those who are likely to do poorly in tests, and added that it could be a death trap policy (GPS) that would lead to the educational system producing poor performing students.
He underscored that the project is highly unrealistic, adding that “it can be piloted, but cannot be replicated due to the high cost of managing schools.”