The Conference of Heads of Private Second-Circle Schools (CHOPSS), an association of private senior high schools in Ghana, has called on government to include them in the distribution of the COVID-19 soft loan or stimulus package.
President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo, about a fortnight ago announced a GH¢600 million soft loan package to be rolled out to micro, small and medium scale businesses in the country, as part of measures to help cushion these businesses against adverse effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This, the President of CHOPSS, I.K Mensah, in an interview said: “We are aware that government is bringing some assistance or relief to private businesses, and all we are saying is that private schools are also private business entities. So, we are pleading with the government that whatever undertaken that is being done the private SHS and basic school must be included.
He further noted that if the distribution of the soft loan is going to be done based on a special qualification scheme then CHOPSS should be made aware of the criteria so that it can put in place the necessary measures to meet the specific requirements.
Touching on the adverse effect of close down of schools and the subsequent lockdown, he said, “Last month, March, most private schools could not pay their teachers and with this month April, it would be absolutely impossible for all of us to pay.
This is because all these students who are owing us have all gone home and those who are about to write their WASSCE are those who even owe more and it is during this examination time that parents come to pay but now that they are home, what money would the heads of schools get to pay the teachers?” He quizzed.
In addition, he stated that some private schools have collapsed in the past year or so as a result of the introduction of the Free SHS Policy which did not make provision for private schools.
CHOPSS is, therefore, pleading with government to incorporate private SHS into the Free SHS system so that it would not be said that private schools in the country collapsed under the watch of President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Currently, CHOPSS has over 360 members and is still in negotiation with government to agree on a common status under which it will be incorporated into the Free SHS system.
The GH¢600 million government soft loan facility is expected to have a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period, which businesses has touted as an initiative in the right direction to lessen their burden, amid coronavirus lockdown.