The president of the Ghana National Association of Private Schools – GNAPS, Dr Damasus Tuurosong, on August 17th 2022, bemoaned a persisting decline in private school enrollment, which he said is causing a threat to the survival of members of the association.
According to him, “the harsh economic situation has reduced enrolment into private schools” since many parents of Low-Fee Private Schools are unable to pay the fees of their wards. Dr Tuurosong stated that “Covid-19 dealt a mortal blow to private schools, especially low fee schools”, as he said many private schools are “still in the intensive care unit” struggling for sustainability.
Addressing private schools’ owners and other major stakeholders at its 8th biennial national delegates conference in Koforidua, the president is worried about an” almost 100% concentration on public schools” by the government and the sector’s regulators to the “neglect of private schools, especially, Low Fee Private Schools (LFPSs)” in Ghana.
He laments the government’s reluctance to assist private schools through their current problems he refers to as “raging economic storms”. The president fears that “actions, inactions, pronouncements and deliberate sabotage” from some state actors are worsening the plights of private schools despite private schools supporting the government in achieving global educational goals and benchmarks like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 4)
The leader of the association says they are worried that “high registration charges” for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and “unfair Computerized School Selection and Placement System (CSSPS)” is pushing them out of operation as it is leading to high attrition of students from private Junior High Schools to public schools.
Current economic crises in Ghana as the cedi depreciation, hikes in fuel prices, and the high inflation rate as a result of COVID – 19 and the Russia – Ukraine war are taking a toll on Ghanaians, especially business owners and private school owners are part.
For many private schools, mainly Low-Fee Private Schools (LFPS), the effects of the global crises trickled into their operations, and it is not over for them.
Referencing a 2021 IDP Foundation, a partner organisation’s study, 80% of LFPS risked collapse in January 2021, when schools were expected to reopen after the Covid-19 closure fully, and they are not out of the bridges yet.
He called on government, interested agencies and organisations, including Non – Governmental Organisations (NGOs), to support Low Fee Private Schools as they are “social intervention initiatives within deprived communities aimed at addressing lack of education opportunities.”
He believes private schools complement the government’s efforts in providing quality and equal access to education across the country hence urged the Ministry of Education to “pay more attention to the needs of private schools, particularly LFPS”, hoping that when the “Ministry gets set to distribute books on the New Curriculum and CCP, private school children must also benefit from these books.”
Low Fee Schools are the category of private schools that charge minimal administrative fees as a result of their locations in lower-income communities or as an intentional social intervention to augment the challenges of enrollment in underprivileged communities to quality educational institutions. It helps the underprivileged child, the less resourced parent(s) and the low-income community to acquire quality education with affordability.