Education Unions in Ghana, affiliated to Education International (EI), have expressed concern about the increasing incidence of low-fee-for-profit schools (LFPS) in the basic education sector, a trend which is affecting quality of education.
LFPS are businesses run by education entrepreneurs to make profit by offering low-cost, pay-per-use education to the poor.
The Unions said, the emergence of LFPS was a cause for concern and indicated government’s neglect of its duty to provide free, quality education at the basic level for all Ghanaian children.
Presenting findings from a study report conducted by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union (TEWU) and the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), who are affiliated to EI, Mr Johnson Boh, Head of Research at GNAT, said the proliferation of these schools contravened Article 25 Section 1(a) of the 1992 Constitution.
Mr Boh said there is the need for more school infrastructure, particularly in the Awutu Senya East municipality where the study was conducted.
Private schools in the area outstrip public ones by a ratio of 6:1.
He said there was also the need for advocacy to compel central and local government to increase investment in public education.
The research was a case study of the Omega School Franchise, co-founded by James Tooley, a British professor of education policy and Ken Donkor.
The study used 19 Omega schools in Kasoa and its surrounding areas, out of the 32 Omega schools identified in low-income peri-urban areas in Greater Accra, Eastern and Central regions.
The study found, among others, that the quality of education of education in these schools were compromised due to several factors, including the use of untrained teachers, high attrition among these teachers due to the paltry salaries (between GHS 200 and GHS 250), payment of daily fees of GH¢3.50, without which students are not allowed entry to school and a high rate of absenteeism of student due to inability of their parents to pay these daily fees.
Ms Phillipa Larsen, President of GNAT, who chaired the event, said as part of the Campaign against the Privatisation and Commercialisation of Education (CAPCOE) in Ghana, noted that it is important for all stakeholders in education to support policy makers to ensure that education, especially at the basic level was made free and compulsory, in line with the constitution.
She said the CAPCOE will take its advocacy to the relevant people including the Parliamentary select committee, traditional leaders, churches and those at the grassroots to ensure that people are aware of the dangers of patronizing such schools.
She said the current mode of registration for private schools was also a factor that allowed such school to thrive thus the Ghana Education Service (GES) will have to increase its oversight responsibility by ensuring that schools are inspected and licensed before they start operations.
“We are looking at a situation where the mandate to operate in the education sector will be given by the Ghana Education Service instead of the Registrar General’s Department, because they will have to do a lot of inspections they have the facilities and qualified teachers to handle the children,” she stated.
CAPCOE also issued a communique raising concerns about the reported establishment of a new global fund for education; the Education Outcome Fund (EOF) for Africa and Middle East, which they said will seek to transfer tax-payer funds for the well-being of children to private investors, who seek to profit from education.
They the models that the fund promotes will rather deepen inequality and segregation, as privatization did not improve access to education or its outcomes.
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