Thousands of private schools to get COVID-19 stimulus
The government has come to the rescue of private schools, one of the worse affected sectors since the COVID-19 began in March.
Private schools had to shut down completely for almost a years with teachers being rendered jobless, most receiving no salaries as they were not on the government payroll.
As students return to school on Monday, January 18, amidst a spike in cases, President Nana Akufo-Addo has announced a stimulus package for some of the private schools.
On his 22nd Update on COVID-19 on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo expressed worry about the impact of the pandemic on schools the private institutions.
“In our attempt to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, the CAPBuss initiative, being administered by the National Board for Small Scale Industries, has started disbursements to applicants from private educational institutions, many of whom have been hard-hit by the pandemic”.
He assured, “More disbursements to these institutions are being processed”.
What is the CAPBuss Initiative?
The Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) Business Support Scheme is a government programme designed to provide financial support for Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in the wake of the pandemic.
This was launched in on May 19, 2020, by President Nana Akufo-Addo.
In September 2020, Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, the Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), which is implementing the programme, revealed approval had been given for the disbursement of stimulus packages to over 1,000 private schools.
She revealed that the government had budgeted GHC 50 million of funds to support the schools and the private teachers.
The beneficiaries were only a fraction of the 6,000 private schools that had applied for the package as of May 2020.
This was after a petition to President Akufo-Addo by education consultancy, Neogenics Education Group.
They pointed out that “80% of private school proprietors are unable to meet the basic salaries of teachers and office staff (over 400,000).”
The explained in their appeal that parents were unwilling to pay outstanding fees from the previous term in 67% of private schools as 85% of these institutions acquire virtual learning platforms and resources to continue educating children through distance learning.
Their request were the following:
1. Financial intervention/stimulus to support the payment of salaries of private school teachers during this lockdown and one month after re-opening.
2. Freeze SSNIT & TAX payments up to three months after schools are re-opened
3. Authorise banks/creditors to grant stressed-schools payment holidays on loans and credit facilities up to three months after schools are re-opened
4. Absorb all examination fees as a relief to ease the financial burden on parents for the rest of this academic year. Neogenics Education believes this to a very large extent will show that the Ghana government recognises the enormous contribution made by private providers in education, from Pre-school to Senior High School.
According to the NBSSI CEO, over 15,228 beneficiaries had received support both in grants and loans from the programmed ad of January 10, 2021.
Beneficiaries include Agriculture and Agro-businesses, Water and Sanitation, and Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals.
Other sectors are Garment and Personal Protective Equipment, the Creative Arts Industry, Manufacturing, Food and Beverage.
Present COVID-19 situation
Students are returning to school at a time when there is an upsurge in the number of active cases, from a little over 900 to 1,924.
COVID-19 treatment centres have gone from having zero patients to full because of the new infections.
The Ghana Health Service is recording, on the average, two hundred (200) new cases of COVID-19 infections daily.
The number of patients requiring hospitalisation and intensive care is also rising.
The number of severe cases, which stood at eighteen 18 a week before, has increased sharply to 120.
Two weeks before the President’s speech, there was no critical case, but the country has 33 at treatment facilities.
Recent genomic sequencing undertaken by scientists has established that some arriving passengers tested positive for new variants of COVID-19.
“These passengers have all been isolated. Furthermore, work is ongoing to determine the presence and extent of spread of the new variants in the general population,” Mr Akufo-Addo noted.