Though many have lauded moves by government to implement the Free SHS Policy in September 2017, the Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools, (CHOPSS), is worried that the policy will eventually phase them out.
They argue that the policy will reduce the demand for enrollment in private Senior High Schools.
Government has announced that it will begin processes for the implementation of its free SHS policy this September. But speaking to Citi News, the Public Relations Officer of CHOPSS, Naphtali Kyei Baffour, said the policy when implemented will put them out of business.
“It is an undeniable fact that the private sector is the engine of growth for development. Therefore any policy that seeks to collapse the activities of private sector should be reconsidered.
That is why we believe that inasmuch as the [Free SHS] policy is very good as it seeks the well-being and interests of students, parents and Ghanaians as a whole, it is also imperative that as we sit, we look at factors that can help the private ones to be sustained.”
“Private schools sustain their existence from the mop up they get from candidates with aggregate 30 to whatever grade. Now it has been extended to 42 so our question now is; with the introduction of free SHS, we are yet to hear from government if they are going to the old system where the cutoff point will be pegged at 30 or they will still operate with the existing one like aggregate 40, 42.
If it still happens like that, then those who did not qualify for admission into public institutions that we relied on, now because it is free and they will still be qualified, it means that come two years, three years, four years, there will be no private school existing.”
While CHOPSS is worried that the introduction of the policy might push private schools out of business, some groups and political parties have expressed concerns over moves to use the Heritage Fund for the implementation of the policy.
But the Minister of Finance , Ken Ofori-Atta, on Friday indicated that, the fund will not be used to implement the policy. Speaking to Citi Business News after an event organized by Achimota School as part of its 90th anniversary, Mr. Ofori Atta insisted that government will not finance the project from the Heritage Fund, but promised that details for funding it will be provided in the budget.
“We are financing the Free SHS education without looking at the Heritage Fund. As far as I know the Senior Minister did not say we will finance the Free SHS with the Heritage Fund.
He alluded at looking at other options for us to be able to finance the Free SHS,” he said.