By Gifty Arthur
Private Senior High Schools (SHS), have renewed their call to government to allocate to them, special stimulus packages, as they ready to receive final year students back next week to prepare them for their external West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
The school heads complain finding funds to pay both teaching and non teaching staffs, as well as administrative and other expenses, has remained their biggest challenge so far, since the shutdown of schools across the country in March, as a result of the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on behalf of the Conference of Heads of Private Secondary Schools (CHOPSS) during a Ghana Education Service (GES) sanctioned disinfection exercise by waste management company Zoomlion, in the Volta region yesterday, the Conference National Organiser, Maxwell Wallahs Affram, said government needs to see their situation as very dire and grant them this specifically designed package different from what is being offered to other private businesses to keep them in business.
This is the second time Mr Wallahs Affram who doubles as Volta Region CHOPSS secretary is making this passionate call to government after the maiden call about two months ago, when the first disinfection exercise was conducted in all SHSs nationwide.
According to him, schools are facing financial challenges as a result of the fact that, schools did not receive fees before the shutdown in March, putting a lot of pressure on them.
“Since the outbreak of the COVID-19, and our students were asked to go home,it has been great challenge to private schools because, we did not collect our fees before the students were asked to go home”. He said “how to raise income to take care of administrative expenses, pay salaries of our staffs and also meet other expenses,” have been very difficult.
He added “Some schools are not paying at all, others are also managing to pay half of their salaries even that, we have to source the funds from external sources in a form of loans to be able to meet those expenses”.
The Proprietor of Wallahs Academy SHS, said they have resorted to that arrangement because they have nowhere to run to and also do not want to leave their staff to their fate during this pandemic to struggle on their own and later request for their services when the time is right, saying “What of if they are no longer alive”?
Mr Wallahs Affram, said although he was aware some members are laying off some of their staff and he doesn’t support it, he argued they have no other choice under the circumstances.
“We have appealed to the government that the stimulus package that has been set out for businesses, should be extended to us in a very special form rather than going to access it from the pool so that it can help us meet some of our expenses”.
He expressed the Conference appreciation to the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service (GES) and Zoomlion Ghana Limited for disinfecting all Senior High Schools, including private and special ones for the second time this year without any cost.
Principal of Holy Spirit College of Education Ho, Gabriel Freeborn Koku Wotordzor, said the College is set to receive final year students next week as announced by President Akufo-Addo, saying with a student population of 180, they will be able to ensure all the safety protocols measures such as social distancing, wearing of face masks, provision of Veronica Buckets and sanitizers etc, will be observed.
He said, students would be divided into groups of 30 to ensure effective teaching and learning.
Volta Regional General Manager of Zoomlion, Solomon Denyo, said the Vector Control Unit of the company, was well equipped and has acquired enough experience to complete the exercise by Sunday.
He said some 117 schools within Volta and Oti regions, would be covered, adding the effective collaboration enjoyed from stakeholders will push them to discharge their duties responsibly.
He said Zoomlion is not doing this work alone as it has contracted other companies to help execute the exercise at a very fast rate.