OPEN LETTER TO:
- THE GOVERNMENT
- THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION
- THE GHANA EDUCATION SERVICE
- THE MINISTRY OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY
- TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN AND THE PUBLIC
HOW GHANA GOVERNMENTS HAVE ALLOWED PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND RETAILERS TO CAUSE HARDSHIPS IN THE ECONOMY – PRICES AND FEES HIKES
It is disturbing to see how private schools and retailers are been established and running their businesses as if there are no regulations and laws to supervise what they do. One may ask are private schools and retailers established in Ghana are to support the growth of this country or to run it down just for a simple reason that they are private businesses? If there are no laws and regulations to supervise and govern what both private schools and retailers do, I humbly advise the government to set up many since there is high unemployment in Ghana to get people more jobs to do. Regulations and compliance in this country is paramount. This will be an opportunity for the government to create jobs and fill those vacancies to correct abnormalities in the Ghanaian systems such as the problem of private schools and retailers.
First and foremost, by experience, it appears that Ghana Education Service (G.E.S) does not have any regulation on private schools where they do due diligence and other checks on the private school activities and how they deal with Ghanaian parents. If there is any in existence then it must be made public and introduce to parents and the private schools to know and understand such regulation for compliance. Just because they are private schools some may just be creating their own rules and implementing them. As for Parents Teachers Associations, I will not talk much on that because most Ghanaian parents don’t trust anything they say or contribute in such meetings hence they stop attending and say whatever they agree they will follow.
Does G.E.S. or government checks on how private schools’ charges fees and other nuisance charges they demand daily from children and their parents all in the name of dubious extra classes with cost, feeding fees, cost of uniforms and tailoring, cost of textbooks and workbooks all these in each term of school. In fact, most of the schools are even doing marketing and retailing by selling the textbooks and workbooks by themselves with exorbitant prices to children and their parents. The question is how do the teachers teach in a day for normal classes and then teach extra classes for early morning and evening all in the name of final year students. Are there health and safety regulations on the children in private schools from the authorities? We need to know. Private schools must know that children still learn at home when they close from school and so children in this country are over worked above reasonable levels abnormally without regard to their health. I expect the authorities to define periods of classes for private schools to follow as standard.
For example, the children are made to come to school as early as 7:00 am to attend extra classes before going for assembly and then after the normal day classes, they continue for another extra classes until almost 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday with specific charge of fees each day which is extra and abnormal fees and charges to parents. The “wahala” for parents are too much which majority can’t complain any longer but rather put the hardship anger on government. The question I want to ask government and G.E.S. is that, is this kind of process acceptable per any regulation if there is one in Ghana? Are private schools been monitored in terms of health and safety of children in the private schools? Imagine children being forced to learn from 7:00 am to 5:00pm which is almost 10 hours each day. Is this not over working of the children when parents and the children don’t have a choice to challenge but to pay for each extra classes each day in addition to the original fees plus the children daily feeding fees or chop money.
Parents have to buy uniforms from the schools’ own designs which they change quiet often, pay increased fees, give chop money or feeding fees each day and pay extra classes each day too. Look at the abnormal cost to parents. Imagine if you have 2 to 3 or 4 children attending the same school.
Why are we living in Ghana as if we are in an animal kingdom and pretend as if most of these private schools are not part in putting hardships to poor parents which in effect is attributed to the government being poorly managing the economy. And so why government wash its hands off the private schools if that was the case? The Ghana government and G.E.S. must wake up and control things by monitoring and regulating the activities at the private schools. Parents want to know where in G.E.S. can parents send their complaints for amicable solution if their economic freedom and human rights of their children to school and education is been challenged upon or when undue matters arises?
The other issue has to do with retail businesses where they increase prices indiscriminately because they are already goods in the shops or stores but when there is slight increase of fuel or taxes, then they automatically increase prices of their old goods instantly without recourse to the fact that those goods are not affected by any tax increment. Bill increment does not mean automatic increase on commodities. Government must institute a clear policy as to how retailers in the shops, stores and containers can add or increase their prices accordingly. The question here also is are there any market competition in the Ghanaian retailers, I doubt, our way of setting prices is about when tax and utility bills are increased which must change and be regulated to reduce these rampant economic hardships.
In fact, this is a clear opportunity for Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to recruit more personnel to be monitoring and controlling the retail businesses with their invoices and receipts. Prices of commodities and goods are been increased indiscriminately as if there are no regulations to that business sector. All these behaviours and actions by retailers adds pressure to people pockets which again is attributed to government of mismanaging the economy. Hence, government must do something about these lawless increments which cause hardships. There must be a policy on retailing in terms of how and when to increase prices of goods and commodities accordingly. As it is now, almost every business practice corruption in Ghana because governments practice it and so it does not see the need to regulate other sectors and people are cheating the systems which in fact affects poor Ghanaian parents and workers directly and indirectly!
The essence of this letter is to draw government attention to the serious matters affecting Ghanaian parents and societies, like private schools and retailers been part of causing hardships in the economy unnecessarily. And something must be done immediately to inform school owners to always make their school fees and other charges and cost of activities they are charging the children and their parents each day or week or term to government/G.E.S. Government must recruit personnel to be monitoring private schools based on a regulated document that will make government to be on top of issues. If not, the hardships these schools and retailers bring on Ghanaian parents will make them automatically put their frustrations and anger on the governments at all times. Same must be applied to the retail stores, shops, and containers. In fact, Ghanaian parents are suffering in the hands of private schools and retailers which worsens the economic growth.
In fact, buying of books alone especially the list that the schools provide each time is not necessary. The schools only need textbooks as handbooks to teach the children but not them listing books all the time for parents to buy which become useless after just one term for most of the textbooks. This is terrible practice in the 21st century of our educational system. Government must regulate and define clearly what private schools should be doing and how. They cannot be let loose causing more hardships to parents to their advantage alone. Most writers and the private schools are cashing on parents through these textbooks and workbooks they write. The question is who determines that those lists of books are necessary and important. Besides all the books are overpriced to the detriment and struggle of a poor parent. This must stop. Textbooks that should cost, less than GHS5 and/or GHS10 are overpriced and government is doing nothing about it. Prices of books are determined according to the quantity you are to print from the printing press which when you are printing in thousands and millions the price is small and hence why huge cost of books and textbooks? The more copies you are printing the less amount you pay per each. Why high cost and prices set by retailers and the private schools. These are the prices and fees hikes.
How are teachers teaching our children? At least, the best way to learn is by writing, hence, teachers must always write for the children to copy. That is best practice. Workbooks are only not the best so to speak in our part of the world. Such cost is not necessary. May be a teacher workbook as handbook to teach the children will be better. Even most textbooks should be procured by the schools for teachers to use to teach the children instead of them asking everybody to go and buy those books. At times the school tells you they have it for sale at a price you can’t imagine each term which is causing hardships. Ghana need control of these activities to at least make living and expenditure reasonable and better for poor parents. Schools that are doing things right have no cause to worry about but for those who are burning rules and overcharging everything must be sanctioned and controlled and all must be properly regulated to show that the governments are actually working for the parents as citizens to reducing their financial burdens.
A word to the wise is enough.
Thank you and I hope we will see positive action and change towards these directions I enumerated.
10th October 2019