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05.04.2011 General News

Private schools gain 90% of nation's best schools

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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By Chris Twum
THE Greater Accra Regional Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) has celebrated its week, with a call on owners of the schools to improve upon facilities.

The Accra Metro Director of Education, Mr. Alfred Kofi Osei, who made the call, noted that during the last Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE), the private schools captured about 90 percent of the best 100 schools.

'A notable number of you provide quality infrastructure, amenities, and other logistics that promote and enhance quality education delivery, particularly, at the Basic level, result in credible learning outcomes, especially, in terms of BECE results,' he noted.

Speaking on the theme; 'Private Education in an emerging Middle Income Economy,' the Director said there was a real challenge to those whose core duty was to produce holistic individuals whose learning outcomes are crucial to the development of the nation.

As frontline stakeholders in education delivery, Mr. Osei stated that it was important for proprietors/proprietresses to diligently deliberate on what means to employ, to produce the relevant human-resource base to meet the needs of the nation.

'Certainly, this calls for critical thinking for innovative and creative ideas to break new grounds in this highly competitive and technological era. It may also become necessary for you to empower yourselves with new knowledge and skills, to better understand the structures that drive the development of your business plans and competitive processes,' he emphasised.

The Regional Chairman of GNAPS, Mr. Steve Revss, said the theme for the occasion presents serious challenges, especially, for struggling basic and second cycle operators battling against odds to keep their institutions afloat, in an economy that is capitalist in nature.

'For us in the private sector, a middle income economy can be likened to the aroma of a sumptuous meal navigating through the expectant nostrils of a famished industry. The middle income economy status is so appealing to the ears, it is easy to instantly be transported into the realm of make-believe, viz, a good life, streets of gold, oil money, and good health,' he maintained.

The Regional Chairman lamented that in an emerging middle income economy, the reality was that, private schools were folding up, stressing that schools that had run successfully, and churned out brilliant scholars and academicians, are grinding to a halt.

Mr. Revss mentioned that the running of private institutions in low-income areas had become so capital-intensive, and that it was almost suicidal.

He said: 'The attendant taxation that goes with the mental trauma is enough to make a traumatised administrator buckle under the intense stress we go through. Internal Revenue Service taxes, Accra Metropolitan Assembly levies, Business Operating Licence fees, SSNIT, Property rates, District Education levies, and the constant harassment from strange 'officials' who regularly emerge, claiming terrorist and intimidating status.

'The emerging middle income economy has seen our government trying hard to build schools with architectural designs at par with schools in Europe, probably to outdo private schools. These emerging middle income economy investors, who previously, arrived on our shores to invest in mining, real estate, and agriculture, or put up processing factories, are being advised to invest in school infrastructure.

'The result is that the small-income area school, run by the Ghanaian citizen who has to generate funds internally, because the banks will not give him a loan, is completely swallowed up and left gasping and clutching at straws,' he added.

The Vice Rector of the Pentecost University, Prof. Kwame Boasiako Omane-Antwi, on his part, said private education was often perceived to be serving the needs of the elite and middle classes, not the poor, however, there was a growing body of evidence that challenges this conception.

He noted that one major role of private education was  that it encouraged competition in all the levels of educational systems, saying that the public perception of poor quality education at public schools at all levels, was driving the expansion of private schooling.

Prof. Omane-Antwi said in Ghana, it is a fact that most children who obtain quality grade in the BECE are mostly from well established private basic schools. 'This is the reason why these days, many small towns and villages have some form of private education, and even though the quality may not be the best, it may be preferred to the public schools. Now, every Ghanaian, no matter his or her geographical location, has come to the realisation that investing in education has both social and economic returns,' he stressed.

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