Education unions are urging the Ghanaian government to make amendments to its Education Act to ward off threats of commercialisation following a commitment to review the existing regulatory regime of private schools.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and education unions, including Education International (EI), its affiliates and partners, are sounding alarm bells amidst growing privatisation and commercialisation of education in Ghana.
According to Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, “Basic education shall be free, compulsory and available to all”. However, existing legislative and regulatory frameworks have allowed the proliferation of corporate backed, fee-charging for-profit schools, which undermine the right to education and contribute to a deepening inequality and segregation in the provision of schooling.
The threat posed by commercialisation has also been recognised by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to Education, Kishore Singh, who warned that “soon, it may not be an exaggeration to say that privatisation is supplanting public education instead of supplementing it”, where “inequalities in opportunities for education will be exacerbated by the growth of unregulated private providers of education, with economic condition, wealth or property becoming the most important criterion for gaining access to education”.
The Omega School Franchise in Ghana is an example of this trend. It is a chain of ‘low-fee’ private schools targeting poor families. The chain has grown to over 38 schools delivering schooling to over 20,000 students across the country. They claim that their model of affordable “pay-as-you-learn” by the day schooling will increase access to education for Ghana’s poor.
Acknowledging the government’s commitment to review the existing regulatory regime for private schools and noting the review of the Education Act (Act 778); unions in education and civil society call on the government to make the necessary amendments so that the Act;
- reflects its obligations consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4. By adopting the Sustainable Development Goals governments have committed to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes;
- reflects its primary obligation to properly and adequately fund free quality education for all children regardless of the background. This is crucial to Ghana’s future prosperity;
- ensures minimum national standards with respect to the provision of education. Registration of schools must be conditional on full compliance with minimum standards.