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Private Schools Call for Government Support in Exam Fees and Inclusion in Free SHS Program

The Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS) has issued a strong call to action regarding the exorbitant registration costs faced by private school students for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

Led by GNAPS President Professor Damasus Tuurosong, the organization has formally requested that the government absorb these fees, an initiative aimed at reducing the financial burden on parents and students alike. Professor Tuurosong highlighted that while public school students benefit from the government’s absorption of such fees through the Free SHS policy, their private counterparts are unfairly left to shoulder these substantial costs, which creates a disparity in the financial commitments of families based on the type of educational institution attended.

Private educational institutions are notably excluded from the benefits of Ghana’s Free Senior High School (Free SHSH) program. This nationally celebrated initiative currently covers examination fees for public high school students but stops short of assisting those in the private sector. The exclusion of private students from this benefit undermines the principle of equal access to education, as stated by the Free SHS policy. GNAPS has pointed out this inconsistency, advocating for an inclusive approach that ensures all students, regardless of the type of school they attend, can enjoy the same financial support during these critical examination periods. Moreover, GNAPS argues that the absorption of these fees by the state would promote educational equity and could lead to improved academic outcomes across the board.

In addition to examination fees, GNAPS has also spotlighted the financial burden imposed on private schools by various educational regulatory bodies including the National Schools Inspectorate Authority (NaSIA), the National Teaching Council (NTC), and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA). These charges, which the association believes should be borne by the government, pertain to regular inspections and certifications that ensure educational standards are maintained. Professor Tuurosong stressed that these costs not only strain the operational budgets of private schools but also inevitably get passed down to parents, adding further to their financial load. GNAPS urges a revaluation of these policies to alleviate unnecessary financial pressures on non-state educational providers and to support the broader educational ecosystem in Ghana.

The association is also campaigning against the 30% priority placement system that currently favors public school BECE candidates for placement into ‘Category A’ Senior High Schools. This system, GNAPS argues, is inherently unfair and discriminatory, as it disadvantages students from private schools who are equally deserving of high-quality secondary education opportunities. By advocating for the abolition of this system, GNAPS aims to foster a more equitable educational environment where admissions are based solely on merit and potential rather than the type of institution attended.

Addressing the concerns raised by GNAPS, the former President His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, the flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has pledged to integrate private secondary schools into the Free SHS program should he be elected in the upcoming December elections. The former president believes that including private schools in this initiative is not only fair but also beneficial for the educational system as a whole, as many private institutions possess the necessary infrastructure and resources to effectively participate in and enrich the Free SHS program. Additionally, the flag  bear of the NDC has committed to working closely with educational stakeholders to restructure Ghana’s educational system from basic through to tertiary levels. This ambitious plan aims to enhance educational outcomes and ensure that the system aligns more closely with the nation’s developmental goals. By including private schools in the Free SHS program, the former president argues that it would stimulate more balanced competition among schools, raise educational standards across the board, and ensure that all students, regardless of their socio-economic background or the school they attend, have, access to free and quality education.

The dialogue surrounding the inclusion of private schools in the Free SHS program and the absorption of examination fees by the government highlights a critical phase in Ghana’s educational policy. As the country gears up for the upcoming elections, the educational policies of competing parties are under scrutiny, with promises like those made by  His Excellency John Dramani Mahama potentially playing a pivotal role in influencing voter decisions. The commitment to review and potentially overhaul the educational system suggests a future where the playing field might be levelled, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to attain the highest possible standards of education.

The debate initiated by GNAPS and the responses it has elicited underscore the complexities and challenges within Ghana’s educational sector. The call for policy changes by GNAPS reflects broader issues of equity and access that affect educational outcomes nationwide. If the government takes steps to address these concerns, it could lead to significant improvements in the educational experiences of all Ghanaian students, fostering a generation that is better equipped to contribute to the country’s growth. The ongoing discussions are a hopeful indicator that stakeholders are ready to consider more inclusive and fair educational policies that can benefit a wider spectrum of the population.

As these issues continue to evolve, the outcome of the forthcoming elections could be a turning point in how education is prioritized and structured in Ghana. Stakeholders from all segments of society are watching closely, hopeful for reforms that will build a more inclusive and equitable educational framework, supporting the aspirations and potential of every Ghanaian student.





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