Why Ghana Should Not Adopt PPP Model At Basic Education Level

Minister of Education, Ghana, Dr Matthew Opoku-Prempeh

Accra,Ghana, June 11, 2019//-Civil society campaigners both home and abroad have asked the Akufo-Addo-led government not to jeopardize the future of Ghanaian children by adopting the controversial Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) model at the public basic education level.

One of the options being considered by the Government of Ghana to solve the perennial low learning outcomes in public basic schools is the adoption of PPPs on basic education, where private and non state actors are engaged to manage schools with the expectation of quality outcomes.

Ghana is not the first to venture into PPPs.  PPPs have been in Africa for over a decade with mixed outcomes.

At media sensitization workshop on the proposed Ghana Partnership Schools (GPS) project held in Accra recently, senior officials of Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC), a leading network of civil society organizations, professional groupings, educational/research institutions and other practitioners interested in promoting quality basic education for all, urged the government to hold on the GPS talks.

QUESTIONS BEGGING FOR ANSWERS

PPP managers under the GPS shall have the right to cause the transfer of teachers if they feel they are not fit for purpose. They also have the right to bring in their own school heads. Teacher Unions have protested this move since it interferes with their Collective Bargaining Agreement with the GES, according to Programmes Officer of GNEEC, Festus Longmatey.

Will GPS attract more resources from the private sector?

PPP managers under GPS can bring in their own resources to improve the delivery of education. This is one of the justifications given by government for introducing PPPs.

However, evidence from all African countries suggests that this justification has never being met as governments have ended up spending their own money as extra resources, he said.

What is the guarantee of accountability under the GPS?

PPP managers under GPS shall be accountable to a set of learning outcomes that would be agreed with the GES prior to their contracting. Payment of their commission by GES will be based on the level of attainment of contracted outcomes. Outcomes shall be measured through standardised tests conducted by GES to ascertain proficiencies of students.

What kinds of schools are earmarked for GPS?

GPS schools should have a Kindergarten, Primary and Junior High School (JHS) with at least 300 students enrolled across classes. These schools should not need any immediate rehabilitation.

What is the cost of implementing PPPs?

Under the GPS, proposed per unit cost of education is about 20% more than the current cost government incurs. This means, PPPs are 20% expensive than the regular schools managed by GES

Are PPPs genuinely addressing the problems in education?

Education is a fundamental human right and a building block for equal societies. But if the Ghana implements the GPS, education in the country would be for the rich and the powerful, Mr Longmatey argued.

Researchers (Verger and Moschetti) review of PPP finds that the competitive environments generated by many PPP frameworks “provide incentives for schools to recruit the best and ‘cheapest to educate’ students, as well as to discriminate against those who are less academically skilled or have special educational needs.”

In Argentina, for example, pervasive student-selection practices were found in PPP schools which used admissions screening tests and interviews to select more desirable students, despite this practice being explicitly forbidden. When schools admit ‘sharp’ students, PPP managers are more likely to meet their targets.

Does PPP promote Gender equality?

A 2014 review of studies in 11 countries funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) found that private schools are not equally accessed by boys and girls, and several new studies have reinforced this concern

Gender also interacts with other forms of exclusion from private schooling, such as poverty and disability, deepening inequality. For example, research in Pakistan found that private school enrolment is more likely amongst boys with disabilities, while girls with disabilities are more likely to be out of school

Does PPP promote Access?

Most PPP run schools are more concentrated in urban areas, and do not tend to reach children living in rural areas or the poorest or most difficult-to-reach communities.

Under the Partnership for Learning project in Liberia, the focus is on managing few students and limiting access to education for the vast majority which contradicts the rights to education for every child.

Does PPP promote quality?

A study published by the World Bank of primary schools in seven sub-Saharan countries — Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo and Uganda, comprising 40 per cent of the region’s population — found that, on average, students receive less than three hours’ tuition a day and that many teachers fail simple literacy and numeracy tests.

In Pakistan, PPP sheds light on the unintended consequences of a high-stakes “reward and sanction” model in which schools’ funding is tied to student performance on a standardized test. The findings suggest that this approach creates incentives for schools to exclude the poorest children, children with disabilities, and others who are likely to do poorly on tests.

In Liberia, one of the contractors, Bridge International Academies got rid of 50 percent of the existing teachers and brought in 71 percent new teachers.

Since these are public employees who can’t be fired, this group appears to have displaced poor performing teachers to other public schools. It spent the most per student, got rid of the most teachers, and received preferred allocation of the schools as well as a lower class-size cap. This does not allow for a fair playing field.

GPS is against the Abidjan Principles

Commenting on the Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education, National Coordinator of GNECC, Veronica Dzeagu said if Ghana goes ahead to implement the GPS it will go against the principles.

She noted that the Abidjan Principles were adopted in Côte d’Ivoire, following a three-year participatory consultation and drafting process.

The Abidjan Principles provide a reference point for governments, educators and education providers when debating the respective roles and duties of states and private actors in education.

They compile and unpack existing legal obligations that States have regarding the delivery of education, and in particular the role and limitations of private actors in the provision of education.

They bring together what international human rights law means by drawing from other sources of law and existing authoritative interpretations.

Providing crucial guidance to governments, education providers, human rights practitioners, scholars and other stakeholders, the Principles are intended to directly inform education policies. They identify and unpack the existing obligations of states under international human rights law to provide quality public education and to regulate private involvement in education.

How sustainable are PPPs?

One of the major disadvantages of PPPs is its unrealistic nature. They can always be piloted but never replicated due to the high cost of managing schools.

PPP in Ghana – The proposed GPS project

GPS project is a supply side PPP which is expected to start in September, 2019 by the Government of Ghana aims at increasing the flexibility, capability and accountability at the school level in the management of public schools, Mr Longmatey told journalists at the workshop.

“GPS will outsource the management of some low performing public basic schools to non state actors to manage for a commission based on the achievement of agreed learning outcomes in these schools.

Even though the Ministry of Education (MoE) has denied the intention to outsource to private companies, the outcomes of PPP remain, irrespective of whether the implementer is a profit or not for profit”.

WHY Gov’t opting for GPS

GPS will allow non state actors to take over the management of some low performing basic schools. These managers will bring in their boards to manage the school, Mr Longmatey stated.

The reasons given by the Ghana’s Ministry of Education (MoE) for considering PPPs is poor learning outcomes as a result of inefficient management and supervision. It is Civil Society’s considered opinion that that, inefficient management and supervision in public schools, coupled with the lack of adequate investments by government, as the lack of teacher accountability and low teaching investments within the GES are to blame for poor learning outcomes.

It is the duty of the Ministry of Education to resource and empowers Circuit Supervisors, school heads and teachers while creating an accountable system that rewards performing teachers based on Key Performance Indicators and sanctions non performing ones.

Considering that MoE has always cited resource constraints for the deficits mentioned, adopting PPPs would only mean delaying the fulfillment of these obligations by government since without MoE providing these resources, no successful outcome of a PPP pilot can be replicated in the public sector.

What is PPP in Education?

A PPP in education, he explained could be any collaboration between the private sector and the state, whether to produce textbooks, build school infrastructure, or design learning software.

However, most often in policy circles, the term “education PPP” refers to a partnership with the private sector for the provision of education service.

What are the different Models of PPP in education?

Through direct assistance to private schools—such as per-student subsidies, block grants. Through public funding to private organizations to manage public schools (sometimes called “supply-side” PPPs)

Through “demand-side” funding, such as vouchers, scholarships, or cash transfers for students to use in accessing private schools.

Why PPP in Education?

PPPs are mainly funded by the World Bank and other International organizations with the objective of improving learning outcomes.

Some of these objectives include: to promote an innovative solution to the challenges in public education delivery;  to promote greater efficiency, wider access to education particularly for excluded households, higher test scores, and greater choice for households; and  to improve efficiency in public education, to provide better learning outcomes, be more rapidly scalable, and offer greater accountability .

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report

Email: mk68008@gmail.com

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