126 PRIVATE SCHOOLS COLLAPSE OVER CORONAVIRUS
The Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNACOPS) has said a total of 126 private schools have folded up as a result of financial constraints arising from the closure of schools nationwide due to outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, the 126 collapsed schools had 37,800 students and pupils manned by 2,394 staff. According to the Executive Secretary of GNACOPS, Enoch Kwasi Gyetuah, sixteen of the affected schools are in the Greater Accra Region, 13 in Northern, 11 in the Ashanti Region and 10 each in the Eastern, Upper West and Bono East regions. He gave numbers of schools affected in other regions as: eight in the Central Region, eight in North East Region, seven each in Western and Savanna regions, six in the Volta Region, five in the Western North Region, four each in the Ahafo, Bono and Upper East regions as well as three in the Oti Region. Mr Gyetuah further outlines that besides the challenge of financial constraints that caused the collapse of the schools, they were faced with other challenges including “lack of regulatory flexibility on the part of state agencies, inability to sustain teachers during the COVID-19 period and free movement of students to schools that offer less fees”. “They were teaching on loan facilities and some of the banks have decided to take over as a result of their indebtedness to them. They are using the school facilities to pay off the debt,” he said. In his assessment, there is the need for government to intervene in order to stop the collapse of more schools before the January 15, reopening date. He has therefore called for a consultation engagement between government and the council to address the situation. “There should be immediate consultations with the private schools so that we can find out a better position to situate this since it has adverse effect on government’s infrastructure.” The Executive Secretary of GNACOPS has however expressed hope that the reopening of schools would help private schools recover from the challenges they have been through in over nine months that both private and public schools have been closed. On March 15, 2020, the President announced the closure of all schools and universities, among a string of measures to curb the spread of the pandemic. With government instituting measures to gradually ease COVID-19 imposed restrictions, basic schools are set to reopen on January 18, this year, after 10 months’ closure as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.