Stakeholders Kick Against Privatization of Education

Stakeholders in the education sector have said any attempt to cede public schools to private entities will be a disaster for the country.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Campaign Officer at OXFAM, Samaria Sulemana stated that the privatisation of the education sector will only entrench inequality in society, where the advantaged few will have better access to education while the poor become marginalised.

“Evidence shows that it takes up to 40% of [an average] family’s income to educate one child in the ‘elegant’ schools in Ghana. Schooling at such a cost has deprived many children especially girls to enrol and stay in school,” he said.

Mr Sulemana further attributed the often cited poor state of public schools in Ghana to mismanagement, adding that “unqualified teachers, poorly paid teachers” all in the name to save cost.

“They are abusing the teacher labour rights, they have poor transparency and accountability mechanisms and side-step important education laws and regulations, undermining a country’s ability to ensure that educational standards are applied equally to all,” he emphasised.

The government in February 2019 revealed its intention to partner with some non-governmental organisations to manage some selected public schools. According to the Public Relations Officer at the Education Ministry, Vincent Ekow Assafuah, a decision was yet to be made on how the project will be implemented.

The project is a World Bank initiative to support 700 basic schools in the country. The Education Ministry is expected to choose 50 from this number. Deputy Education Minister, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, who represented the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the dialogue said the government and its party would not adopt the education policies that will leave the poor even poorer in the 21st-century knowledge age.

“We believe that the fortune of this country is tied to how well we can educate our children. So if the poor in this country do not have access to quality education and they have to pay on a daily basis before they can access education, it is an indictment against us,” he said.
Dr Adutwum noted that collective discussions are required to identify measures to assist the poor to transform and break the cycle of poverty in their lives through quality education.

Speaking on behalf of the People's National Convention (PNC), Bernard Mornah said Ghana must have the will to resist any attempts by foreign aid groups to foist on the nation proposals for public-private participation in the sector.

“We do not think public-private partnership is the answer to the problems in the education sector. We think we have had sufficient wrong prescriptions from most institutions and we should not take any other lesson from them. Let’s practices from our own,” he said.

Ranking member on Parliament's Education Committee, Peter Nortsu, said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not planning on privatising public education.

He indicated that the NDC reiterates its long-held position of empowering faith-based organisations to partner government in delivering quality education. “We recognise that the private education system in the country is important because if you look at the system very carefully especially in our cities what is happening is that you find it very difficult to find land to build public schools. And that is where the private schools are now stepping in,” he explained.

The Stakeholders held the dialogue to discuss ways to decommercialise education to ensure the poor can also afford quality education.