The introduction of the government’s Free Senior High School programme is taking a toll on enrollment in many private Senior high Schools across the country.
This is because the programme is allowing more Junior High School graduates to gain enrollment in public Senior High School for free.
One of the schools that is negatively affected by this development is Holy Spirit Senior High School, owned by the Catholic Church, at Chamba in the Nanumba North Municipality of the Northern Region.
Headmaster of the school, Reverend Father Dr. Camillo Bonsuuri said the school only received 10 new students when the Free SHS policy was first implemented in September 2017.
He said this is despite the fact that the school has adequate facilities, and offers scholarships to needy students.
“Enrollment has been good until the introduction of the Free Senior High School programme when we were to admitted only 10 students into Form One…The following year, things picked up that we got sixty five and this year, we are still admitting.”
“We have facilities. Even with the improved enrollment, the facilities are still underutilized. We can admit up to three hundred comfortably. Because of low enrollments, of course, the finance base is poor. Our teachers are not well paid. Teachers come and go and we don’t blame them. We try to make good use of them and we are lucky they are usually committed while they are here. Everybody is working hard. We would prefer that they stayed longer so that we can benefit from them,” he said.
Despite the low enrollment, the school has an impressive performance record in the West African Senior High School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Two of its pioneers, who emerged with good aggregate, are currently pursuing law at the tertiary level.
The school’s challenges is compounded by the fact that it has its monies locked up in now defunct GN Bank and Gold Coast Securities.
It is therefore unable to pay its teachers, leading to high turnover rate.
“The school’s performance has been good and we the students are so determined to break the existing records. Our main challenge is teachers, because of the financial situation of the school following the collapsed of GN Bank, the school is unable to adequately pay teachers well and as a result we don’t have permanent teachers. You can come to school in a full term and there is no teacher for a particular subject. We are appealing for government to come to the aid of the school by making sure that they get their money from the GN bank’.’
Some of the past students also appealed for government’s support to sustain the school.
“The school has a very good facilities but few students. The school was established to serve humanity, the community and its environs. We want to appeal to government if there could be any intervention to come in if possibly, take over this school and pay the teachers well or offer support to the school in a better way because the achievements of the school over the years have proven beyond doubt”
The school was established in 2009 by the Catholic priest in area, Rev Father Josef Renner.