What I tried to do in the first part of this piece was to clearly narrate what the problem is with the huge number of Senior High Schools which places a burden on government. Question is "what is the way forward"? The way forward is a strong stand which I think is completely the way to go and that is privatize some senior secondary schools. This idea may sound ridiculous but it is simple and highly doable. In fact it will solve the issue of the many high school problems we face. In privatising the schools, the plan is not to auction them to high earning business men and women but rather leave those schools for the old students to run.
Many of the old students of the elite schools as I call them are people of great reputations and highly interested in their schools. The fact that people without thinking twice will brag about their secondary schools shows how far they will go to keep the reputation of their alma mata. Some people have built classroom blocks and other facilities for their schools. I followed the Adisadel Centenary celebration donation list in the newspapers around 2008 and I was shocked at the long list and huge figures I saw back then. That desire is what we should dwell on and and privatise the schools.
Also there are missionary schools which are mostly run jointly by the religious body who put the school up and the government. I totally think that government has no business jointly running such schools because many of those schools were running much better before the government partnered. Many of the missionary schools are part of the elite schools so apart from the religious body's ability to run the school, the schools have a broad old students base who are in positions to run the schools.
Last year there was an admission jam at Wesley Girls School and other places. The old girls called on the government to intervene to keep the school's track record. But I think it was a fine opportunity for them to ask to take over the school and run.
The difficulty is that if such schools are given off, they may become expensive for parents who take their wards there, but it should not be a problem because not every attends Harvard and the other Ivy League schools. In any case 95% of parents whose wards attend such schools are already paying high for extra tuition and can pay no matter the level of fees charged. There are schools that charge huge fees sometimes in dollars and pounds yet admission into such schools are very tight even though people are willing to pay right here in Ghana.
I really think that it will be better for government to let go some of the load and rather focus on strict and proper monitoring to make sure such schools do not go wayward. If we had decided to let go of even 5 schools every year in the last decade, 50 schools would have been independent by now and the resources meant for them given the less privileged schools. I don't see how Achimota School which has produced 3 presidents for Ghana should run on the same budget as my school Amenfiman Secondary School which has barely produced 100 tertiary graduates over 40 years.
I am serious about this issue because I went to a school that whenever I mention the name I get a follow up question, “where is it”. I get embarrassed not because am ashamed of my school but because there are many schools like mine. If we really want to improve our secondary education, we can start from somewhere and we will definitely reap the results.
Implementing this will be very simple, all we need to do is to create a department in the national accreditation board which will regulate this. The department will be tasked to evaluate the elite schools based on certain criteria to ascertain which of the schools qualify to be made independent. Other schools who also believe they are ready to be independent can bring up the proposals outlining their readiness to be independent and also showing plan for growth in the future to be considered. Once you are given the accreditation, you will be monitored closely to make sure you operate within the board's approved standards. Any school which fails to meet the standard of operation is stripped off the accreditation and given back to the government to run.
Anybody who doubts this should give me the project to manage and give me a period of 10 years and see what we will make out of the programme.
This paper was written in my mind for over 3 years, I am so happy it is finally out for others to read.
Co-founder, Peace and Security Forum
Co-founder, Peace and Security Forum