In the wake of the Free SHS in 2017, there was a drastic shift in taste for Private Senior High School since the Free SHS for public schools compelled many parents who would have opted for better quality tuition and services in private schools managed to gain admission for their wards in public schools no matter the poor academic scores the student obtain and the distance between the school and home. Many with bad grades, therefore, went to the public school that had less or no facility than private schools.
Alas, the numbers in public schools become overwhelmed while Private SHSs had little to low admissions, low business, and income. Such schools started counting their losses. They called on the government to consider them and include them in the Free SHS, but that was not to be.
The big question on the lips of many who thought it is not possible to extend the Free SHS to Private Senior High schools raised issues such as how can government finance the business of a private enterprise with public funds. For others, this is not feasible because the fees charged by such schools are higher than the ones public schools were charging prior to the Free SHS.
These fears may be valid, yet not enough reason to suggest that Private SHSs cannot be brought under the Free SHS umbrella.
For the Free SHS to thrive and be successful in Private Senior High schools would mean the government going into a Private Public Partnership (PPP) with schools that the government identifies as good enough to provide students with the Free SHS in private schools.
This agreement should among other things spell out the fees government would pay for students who opt for the Free SHS in the private schools. The government would then have to pay the fees of such students to the Private schools.
In return, the schools do not only pay tax out of the fees but would also be under some enhanced monitoring and supervision of the National Inspectorate Board (NIB) to ensure teaching and learning meet the minimum standard expected in public SHSs are realized in Private SHSs.
The introduction of the Free SHS in Private schools would help introduce additional space thus school facilities which will contribute to the cancellation of the double-track system currently being practiced.
Introducing Free SHS into Private schools will further increase the options available to BECE graduates. The truth be told, there are Private SHSs that have better resources (facilities) than some of our schools in deprived communities. Some of these private schools also have better management systems in place to help implement the Free SHS if they are given the chance.
If the government puts in place an all-inclusive government system that brings on board private schools for the implementation of the Free SHS, the jobs lost in such schools since 2017 will be restored. Private schools that partner government to run the Free SHS will bounce back to life.
Parents will opt for private schools nearer to them that public school far from home.
This will create an opportunity for the government to measure the output of both public and private schools on the program.
The Free SHS for Private schools is possible, and the manifesto of the NDC on this is worth commending.
Many private schools have become a shadow of themselves since they have lost business. However, their revival is a few months away.
If students who took the WASSCE 2020 should fail in large numbers as a result of poor preparation, private schools will resurrect and provide the all-important remedial tuition for such students. The fact that many of the WASSCE 2020 graduates gained admission with grades as high as 45 should give us a clue of things to come. I am not prophesying doom but being a realist. Without a political lens, every one of us can begin to see that Free SHS for Private schools is possible.
Source: Wisdom Hammond | Leadership expert, educationist and Freelancer
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