Unions in pre-tertiary education have expressed disaffection with the privatisation, commercialisation and commodification of public education in the country.
The Unions are made up of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Teachers and Education Workers Union (TEWU) and Coalition of Concerned Teachers – Ghana (CCT-GH).
They called on the Government to abolish the Ghana Partnership Schools Project, which empowers the private operator to decide to or not to work with the Ghana Education Service (GES) staff.
Mr David Acheampong, the General Secretary of GNAT, speaking at a joint press conference of the Unions, said failure to abolish the Project would leave the Unions with no option than to marshal their forces to resist it.
The Project would operate in Ashanti, Northern, Central and Greater Accra regions with a total of 100 selected schools having kindergarten, primary and junior high school and at least 300 students enrolled across classes.
The Project stipulates that the selected schools should not have any immediate need for infrastructural development or rehabilitation.
It is purported to run for three years, after which it may be institutionalised permanently.
According to government, funding would be sourced from the World Bank’s International Development Association, and the Global Partnership in Education as loan and grants.
Mr Acheampong said one concern of the Unions was that under the project, transfer of GES staff from the selected schools would not attract transfer grants and school heads would not be maintained automatically by the private operator.
“The operator has the liberty to invite people from within or outside the GES to manage the schools,” he added.
He said the Unions found the Project a subtle and eventual privatisation, commercialisation and commodification of public education with approval of government.
Mr Acheampong said the Unions were amazed that the Government would be trumpeting the implementation of free secondary education policy only to turn round to institute education for the higher bidder at the basic, primary and junior high schools.
He said those arrangements were against the spirit and letter of their Collective Agreements with the GES and the Labour Act, 2003 (Act 651).
He reminded the Government of the Preamble to their Collective Agreement, which enjoined the parties not to be anti-union or anti-management but rather recognise and agree to promote tryst, respect, fairness and endeavour to uphold those virtues in policies and standards.
He said the Ministry of Education and the GES were collaborating with ARK, an international consortium, to implement the Project with the parties already holding workshops with the intention to finalise the Draft Report for the implementation of the Project.
“In all these endeavours, the major stakeholders; GNAT, NAGRAT, TEWU and CCT-GH have not been involved in the two-year planning process of the Project and they find this unfortunate and unacceptable.”
Mr Acheampong reiterated that government was obligated, under the laws of the country, to provide each school with competent staff, adequate resources, teaching and learning materials and allied logistics.
He said government was also required to put in place a proper and effective system of supervision to ensure a vital quality education delivery.
“We challenge government to put these in place, instead of privatising schools management to achieve the desire results,” he added.
He said the way to go was not privatisation, whether opened or veiled (as under the Project) but the supply of adequate resources and timely releases of capitation grants so school heads would not resort to or rely on direct borrowing to run the schools.
“This is what government should do; if it fails, the heads would run the schools as they are and they should not be held responsible for any lapses or aberrations in the schools.”