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PEC responds to Hon. Prince Hamid Armah on ‘Square peg in round hole’ Comment

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PEC Responding to Hon. Prince Hamid Armah on ‘Square peg in round hole’

As a courtesy to a person I highly respect and admire, I have decided to write a simple response to tighten a few loose ends.

Considering your wealth of knowledge and understanding of the educational sector, having headed one of the Regulatory Bodies under the Ministry of Education and now a Member of Parliament for Kwesimintsim Constituency, and also the functioning Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, I am certain the obvious misconceptions and oversights embedded in your piece were merely those; oversights and misconceptions.

However, for the sake of history and the thousands of curious minds and dedicated citizens who labour day and night to give better education and upbringing to the children and young people across our country, I thought I should help you make a few things clearer.

This is because I believe you meant well by your article. It just didn’t come outright.

Firstly, let’s agree that you didn’t mean to extend the object of my article to the generality of the current Board of NaSIA, who was only inaugurated into office a couple of months ago, whereas the issues being raised by the majority of the private schools go as far back as January 2020. So, my article “Square peg in a round hole…” remains a singular peg and not plural.

That notwithstanding, since you brought them into the conversation, it would be appropriate to consider the role of the Inspector-General of Schools (IGS) in relation to the Board. Under the Administrative Provisions of Act 1023, Article 94, it is clear that, first and foremost, the function of

 

the Inspector-General of Schools is to be responsible for the implementation of the decisions of the Board.

We know that the previous Board completed its tenure with the passing of President Nana Addo’s 1st term of administration, meaning that between December 2018 and October 2021, there was no governing Board for NaSIA.

It raises the question then that; under whose authority was the IGS instructing commercial banks in this country, on 12th February 2021, to cease doing business with private schools who were yet to register with the Authority? How did the IGS expect those schools to pay their registration fees without access to their bank accounts? A square peg in a round hole!

Without a functioning Board, who sanctioned the IGS’ effort to undermine the international certification examinations and publicly embarrassed the Ministry of Education by mixing ‘accreditation’ with local schools ‘licence’?

Square peg in a round hole, indeed!

In transition times when there is no Board in operation, one would expect that the Minister of Education and the Directors of Administration would be consulted before any policy decision as huge as discrediting Ghanaian schools in the eyes of the international community is made.

If that courtesy was shown the Honourable Minister and his team, there wouldn’t have been the need to grant an interview to try to calm the nerves of parents and school proprietors, as well as their international partners, putting the record straight and publicly correcting the huge mistake made by one of his agents. (https:// www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/private-schools-

 

licence-renewal-now-3-years-education-minister.html). How embarrassing to the Minister of Education in particular, and this government in general. As an MP of this Administration, I am sure you must have felt it too.

Secondly, I must thank you for the painstaking effort taken to enlist the wonderful credentials of the IGS. Indeed, you helped me make my point.

Nowhere has any of the private schools’ associations undermined nor denigrated the achievements and experiences of the IGS.

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Our position has been and remains that, she has no known experience in leadership in the education sector; starting, running, or leading an educational body of any kind, neither has she shown the willingness and humility to listen and learn from them.

I am convinced though, that she’s enjoyed the services of a private school as a parent, but that’s it!

It is the soft skills that one develops from engaging with stakeholders in the education sector – especially during trying times like a pandemic – that is largely amiss in the operations of the current IGS.

Even the government had to embark on huge intervention programmes for businesses to survive during this outbreak. School proprietors struggled to make ends meet, and had to pay salaries and honour their obligations to banks and government agencies though fees were either slashed or non- existed.

We celebrate her wonderful achievements in the pharmacology sector. We are however of the humble opinion that there are

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many competent and well-experienced educationists and proprietors within the Minister’s remit, people with a love for schools and well rounded that can easily be recommended to fit this ‘hole’ to promote unity and harmony in the sector.

At the height of this pandemic when everyone in the sector needed empathy, comfort, support and encouragement, that was when our IGS decided to harass proprietors and administrators of international certification schools across the country. That’s definitely a square peg in a round hole that must be replaced!!

Lastly, it is sad that no references were made necessary to the number of concerns raised but rather, an attempt was made to brand PEC as an anti-NaSIA body. In fact, a careful look at the events of the last 18 months would inform anyone in the education space that there has been a series of engagements between PEC and NaSIA, where promises were made, giving the impression that things would be done differently that never saw the light of day.

NaSIA’s mandate and role as a regulatory body is foundational to the wellbeing of all pre-tertiary schools under the Ministry of Education.

There are no qualms about that. In fact, private schools thrive on inspections and supervision. If there is any secrete why private schools do better than public schools in his country it would this key fact.

There is no school in Ghana today that has successfully been accredited by either Cambridge International as an International Assessment School (or the International Baccalaureate) who will find NaSIA’s inspection difficult.

In fact, the accreditation processes that schools have to go through to qualify as an international certification school, come nowhere near the requirements NaSIA would ever conceive or imagine setting

 

up for any Ghanaian school, public or private. This is because many of our public schools would never qualify.

Therefore, Honourable Armah, having clarified the issues at hand, I think readers can better appreciate what you and I are trying to say.

In conclusion, we are very grateful that the newly installed Board Chairman of NaSIA, Professor Eugene K. M. Darteh, seeing the genuineness of concerns raised, and seriousness of PEC to collaborate with NaSIA (and all the regulatory bodies for that matter), met with the leadership of PEC and ASICS to first understand us, before being understood.

As discerning and considerate as he is, he has seen the merits in our position.

We are finally beginning to breathe a breath of fresh air, as we warmly welcome this style of reconciliatory leadership from Prof. Darteh. Enough with the agitations and harassment! Honourable, I believe Prof. Darteh’s approach is a hint on the best approach to dealing with the ‘private schools’ matter, a clue that your good office as the Vice Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education might want to consider. Perhaps an invitation to the leadership of these associations to first seek clarification and understanding would be the best way forward. We believe in collaboration and dialogue.

Let’s sit and talk!

Samuel Yeboah

President – Private Education Coalition (PEC)

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