The Chief Executive Officer of St Andrews Group of Schools and Companies, Professor Richard Kofi Asiedu, has urged the government to include private Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the implementation of the free SHS programme.
He said a partnership could be reached whereby, for instance, the government would provide food for the students while the private schools would pay the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff engaged in their schools.
He said making private school strategic partners in the running of the flagship programme would lessen the financial responsibilities of the government, especially amidst the prevailing economic challenges.
In an interview with Ghanaian Times on Wednesday, he explained that government should not sideline the private schools again and miss another opportunity to get the programme running smoothly and sustainably.
The educationist was sharing his views on ongoing discussions about how the country could find sustainable means to fund the capital intensive (SHS) programme introduced in 2017 following the current fiscal pressure.
Last year July, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, told Parliament that the government allocated GH¢7.62 billion for the implementation of the free SHS programme during the past five years.
In the view of Prof. Asiedu, the government could reduce this expenditure by putting some private schools in districts like AssinFoso, the headquarters of the school, under the one-district one-factory so they would create employment for teachers and other workers.
“Not every district is endowed with natural resources. In AssinFosu there is no factory; St Andrews is the factory here, and we employ many people.
If you bring us students and we employ our teachers and pay them, indirectly we have taken a very huge burden from the government,” he said.
Prof.Asiedu suggested that the government could introduce a cut-off point of about 25 and allow parents whose children score beyond that grade to seek admission at the private schools of their choice.
He said the private schools had the facilities and teachers to provide sound education for the students, noting that some parents had shown high interest in private schools over the last few years.
“Already people are interested in private school and want to enrol them here. Placement into schools has not been released but some parents have already started coming. If the government adds us to the list of schools, we are ready to help make the free SHS better,” he said.
Prof.Asiedu said the private schools, through its leadership, would continue to push for their inclusion in the programme to create jobs, train future human resources for the country and reduce the financial cost of the programme.
He said although the private schools were affected in the first few years of the free SHS programme, things were picking up as enrolment especially midstream admissions, were increasing.
He said the Accra campus of St Andrew School would be opened soon.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR