The Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools (CHOPSS) wants the government to put on hold the implementation of the new double track system in Senior High Schools (SHS).
Government says the new system will address congestion at public schools as it continues with the implementation of its flagship Free SHS policy.
It is estimated that the new system will allow 400 out of the 696 public SHS to accommodate more students within the same facility.
Also, available statistics show that from 2013 to 2017, a staggering 493,016 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) candidates qualified to pursue secondary education but could not do so because they were not enrolled.
It is estimated that 24,993 of this year’s BECE candidates will miss out on secondary education if the government, through the Ministry of Education, does not adopt an innovative way of accommodating all qualified candidates.
The way to go for government is the double track system and it seems in all discussions concerning the implementation of the new system, private schools are being ignored, although they have made suggestions.
A development the private schools are unhappy about.
Speaking at the National Education Dialogue in Accra, the Public Relations Officer of CHOPSS, Naphtali Kyei Baffour says had private schools been considered during the implementation of the Free SHS, government would not arrive at the situation it presently is in.
He said about 250 private schools participated in the 2018 West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
“Granted that even on the average 500 students are posted into these senior high schools they are going to absorb 125,000. Some of them can absorb more, which means your headache of 181,000 leading to double track would not be necessary,” he said.
Mr Baffour said prior to the implementation of the Free SHS programme, the Computerised Placement System sent students to their schools, but all that has ceased.
In his view, the argument that private schools lack adequately trained teachers is unfortunate.
He is surprised that after extensive inspection and checks before they were given licenses to operate, government is now saying they do not qualify for the job.
“Initially there was a cut-off point so candidates who could not get admission into public schools are usually posted to the private schools and they proceed to the universities just like their public school counterparts.
“You don’t just start a private senior high school. The regional, national and secondary division [of the Ghana Education Service], as well as the West African Examination Council (WAEC), comes to inspect facilities before anything is given,” he added.
He also finds it strange that private schools are deemed inadequate when it is their laboratories that the public schools turn to for their practical lessons.
Mr Baffour believes that with the right support, the private schools can assist government in the delivery of quality education.
He wants government to sit with the private schools and identify the role each party can play to make senior school education a success.
He fears for the fate of the over 10,000 teaching staff of the private schools who will lose their jobs if their request is not considered.
“You are seeing the double track as a desperate measure for a desperate situation but I am sorry to disappoint you, we don’t see this as a desperate situation. We feel there is a way out and we feel we have some quota to contribute.
“Undoubtedly, we can do it,” he said.