General News of Tuesday, 25 September 2018
The biggest private school in the Central regional capital Cape Coast is on the verge of collapse.
For 20 years, Sammy Otoo Senior High School has been a go-to alternative for students who could not get admission into public schools to continue their education.
But with the introduction of the Free SHS and the recent implementation of the double track system, school authorities fear this might just be the end of the school which has two campuses in the region.
Headmaster of the school says management is considering laying off some of its staff because the low enrolment will make it difficult to retain and pay them for their services.
Winston Mills told Joy News’ regional correspondent Richard Kojo Nyarko the drastic reduction in enrolment is nothing the school has witnessed in its two decades of existence.
“We are admitting students alright, but we are not getting as high a number we used to have. Last year, we admitted 250 students but as we speak with almost a month into the first term, we have not admitted even up to a 100 students.
“This gives us an indication that if care is not taken, we would have a situation where we will not be able to pay our teachers, pay our bills or meet other obligations and we may have to lay off some teachers for us to survive,” Mills said.
Government’s flagship Free SHS is in its second year. The Akufo-Addo-led administration won many hearts when it implemented the project in 2017/2018 academic year.
The excitement will soon fade after complaints from school heads and videos of students sleeping on floors and cramped up in limited spaces in the various schools started circulating, leaving government in a fix.
But it soon found a solution to the problem. The double track system.
Government hopes the double track system – which will see students go to school in two batches – will address the congestion challenges and save some 24,993 from not getting access to second cycle education.
The Conference of Heads of Private Second Cycle Schools fought strongly against the introduction of the system but were ignored by government .
The private schools said there was no need for the double track system because they were capable of absorbing all the students and called on government to give them the chance.
But none of their calls or pleas were listened to and as the first track of students – green track – begin their first term on the system, operators of the private schools have their hands on their heads.
Not even the biggest of them, like Sammy Otoo SHS can take the heat.
Mills told Kojo Nyarko classrooms and dormitories are empty, “our business is collapsing, private schools are suffering.”
He is surprised that government does not find his school fit enough to give the required tuition and training to the students.
According to him, every one of his teaching staff has at least a first degree, “almost 80 percent of our teachers are examiners of the West African Examination Council (WAEC).”
He said the private schools are willing to take exactly what the public schools are being given if all government is worried about is what to pay them.
”We will take the same amount, we do not have any problem with that. Government is spending a ¢1,050 on each child in boarding school in the public system, we at Sammy Otoo are charging less than that…we charge ¢950.”
Mills says management is at its wits end and if the situation remains as it is, some of the teachers would have to go home.