Private education provision is the epitome and backbone of quality education delivery across the globe.
As a revere beacon of 21st-century education with emphasis on academic excellence and creative skills development, the impact of their education cannot be overstated. The outcomes include high quality and enriching curriculum, acquisition of relevant skills-set and exceptional integrity.
The history of private sector participation in education delivery in the formal sector in Ghana, can be traced back to the pre-independence era with the establishment of the various mission schools.
The post-independence period saw more government control and management of these missionary and colonial schools with a Public-Private Education Partnership (PPEP) policy to support this action.
Currently, there are over 22,000 and 356 Private Basic and Senior High schools respectively in Ghana aside the number of private tertiary institutions.
With this statistic, it is right to assert that at the basic level, more especially in the rural areas, the educational needs of a great proportion of children are catered for by private education providers.
Private schools in Ghana have become a force to reckon with in terms of providing training and holistic education for infants, adolescents and adults across the country, ranging from Pre-school to the Tertiary level.
The rich diversity it brings to the education landscape oftentimes is not given the needed recognition.
Over the years, public and private schools in Ghana have collaboratively worked to ensure the Ghanaian child is not left behind.
Although the Education Act 778 of 2008 (in sections 23 to 28) legally empowers the private education providers in Ghana to operate, they have done so over the years without any systemic guidance and governance from the Government. Yet their successful academic outcomes and dominance are always a point of reference.
This is a clear indication of the strategic role private schools play in national growth and development, and its apparent capacity to operate responsibly in support of the Ministry of Education and other implementing bodies.
Quality private education delivery and its immense contribution to the Education value of Ghana should not be overlooked.
The report on Basic Statistics and Planning Parameters for Ghana 2015/2016 commissioned by the Ministry of Education indicates that 95% of Crèches in Ghana were owned by private entities as well as 15% of Kindergartens.
Not only that, 32% of primary schools and 32% of Junior High Schools were also revealed to be privately owned.
Agreeably, one can accept that, most parents in Ghana prefer private education delivery for their wards. Some of the reasons being the high success rate in academic performance and meeting the parameters of quality education expectations that underpin global educational standards.
In spite of the several years of in-roads made by Private Education providers, one would wonder why private education in Ghana has not been given equal opportunity in terms of national recognition and appropriate legislative stamp.
At least, to offer them exemption privileges including special tax, rent and rates exemptions, in fact, the majority of private education providers do not enjoy high revenue as they are perceived.
To the large majority, delivering a private education provision is a sacrificial service to the nation with no hope of financial gains.
Interestingly, 70 per cent of over 22,000 private schools in Ghana are classified as Low Fee-Paying Schools (LFPS). These schools strive to provide education by using the meagre resources available to ensure learners get quality education.
While several countries are contesting for journeys to the moon, some other countries are yet to define their national education philosophy and ethos.
It is time as a nation that we leapfrog and catch-up with the great nations in quality, access and relevance in education.
In this regard, the call by the Private Education Service providers and the sector Ministry is to ensure a review of the private education governance, structure and strategies is a timely and positive manner.
It is about time we had a body that will bring all stakeholders, CSOs, associations and consultancy groups working with or affiliated to private schools together.
Their aim will be to face up to the absence of effective coordination, common advocacy and to effectively champion deliberation on how government and managers of private schools can contribute to the realization of Goal 4 of the SDGs.
It is against this background that the Private Education Coalition Committee (PECC) has been instituted as an administrative (‘umbrella’) body: a decision making body consisting of the various private school associations and councils, parents’ union, educational consultancy service bodies, other development partners as well as other civil society organisations.
Responsibilities /Functions of PECC
PECC will primarily be mandated to coordinate activities in the interest of all member parties and represent its affiliates/members in all engagements with the government and for that matter, the Ministry of Education and other agencies under the Ministry.
In light of current global demands in quality education delivery, PECC as part of its responsibility will be required to facilitate the delivery of the following;
Educating member organisations in accordance with clearly stated educational demands in order to help them recruit, develop and retain inspiring teachers, who are fully committed to the pursuance of innovative, value-driven, excellent quality, internationally acceptable education delivery.
Ensuring the efficacy of an all-inclusive education by preserving and promoting educational pluralism to enable parents to have a choice in the schooling of their children.
Helping member organisations to maintain high academic standards, including the consistent achievement of excellent internal and external examination results, while continuing their commitment to an all-inclusive admissions policy.
Assisting member organisations to secure financial support, aimed at sustaining sufficient reserves in withstanding emergencies and economic uncertainties. This will help to maintain the facilities and infrastructure required to support the evolving educational and co-curricular needs, and the anticipated growth of the school.
Identifying and assessing on an annual basis, the major risks facing the member organisations. And to ensure that mitigating action, including the preparation of contingency plans, have been taken where appropriate.
Providing policymakers and other stakeholders with information on matters of interest and concern to private schools to ensure equitable opportunity to appropriate state education programs facilities for member organisations.
Giving legal advice and support; as well as general counselling on investment control to the management of member organisations.
Monitoring the professional development of both teaching and non-teaching staff by collaborating with the appropriate bodies to run periodic training and workshops on behalf of member organisations.