President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in 2017 made what could be described as a historic promise of handing over mission schools across the country to churches.
The President, who was speaking at a graduation ceremony at the Trinity College in Accra on Saturday, November 11, expressed the hope that a hand-over will help arrest declining moral standards in schools.
“The tradition of discipline, hardwork, and integrity that characterize the churches…are needed in our country,” he is reported to have said.
The promise is part of the government’s 2016 manifesto pledge.
“Strengthen the participation of the Missions in the Mission-founded schools,” an extract from page 32 of the 2016 NPP manifestoe said.
Although the President did not indicate a timeline for the handing-over, he noted that his government was “keen” on fulfilling the manifestoe promise.
The government’s withdrawal of management of mission schools is expected to delight traditional churches like Presbyterian, Methodist, Anglican and Catholic churches.
As part of its missionary objectives during the colonial era, churches established many of Ghana’s Senior High Schools, several of which are now branded elite schools.
But a 1984 take-over of the schools, placed its administration and management under government control.
As of 2017, Ghana had 872 second-cycle schools of which 66% are government controlled. Churches would have controlled a huge majority of the 575 schools now under the state’s management.
Calls for a return has been growing as churches complain about negative effects of secularisation on school children.
Earlier in 2017, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference called on government to cede control of mission schools to the church to address the deteriorating state of discipline and values in these schools.
The then Education minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh in May, explained the nature of the take-over saying government will use the same model it used in the health sector
In that sector, mission hospitals remain under the control of churches and mosques. He said the state would still pay salaries of teachers in mission schools just as it pays that of doctors and nurses in mission hospitals.
Be that as it may, mission schools remain heavily under government control more than 5 years after President Akufo-Addo’s promise.
Catholic Trends earlier reported that the Head of Papal Dames and Knights Forum of Ghana, Sir Fosuaba Mensah Banahene, has hinted that the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government is demanding that the Catholic Church hand over all lands occupied by Catholic schools in the country to the government.
In a letter addressed to the leadership of laity groups in the country, Sir Mensah Banahene says the Catholic Church in Ghana is facing a crisis as government systematically strips it of control over its pre-tertiary schools.
“Emerging credible reports indicate that the government of the day is now asking the Catholic Church to surrender all lands occupied by the Catholic Schools in the country to the government,” the letter said.
The letter also highlights how the Church is unable to train students in the Catholic faith and doctrines due to the lack of control over their schools.
He argues that unbecoming behavior among students in Catholic schools has surfaced, but the Church is unable to act decisively as effective control of these schools is in the hands of the government.
This menace forms the very basis of President Akufo-Addo’s promise in 2017.
According to the letter, efforts by the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Christian Council of Ghana, as well as other faith leaders, to engage with the government over the issue of control of the Mission and Faith Schools in Ghana have been repeatedly scuttled by the government.
It adds that in 2019, all the faith organizations and the government drew up a Memorandum of Understanding, but the government failed to sign it despite repeated assurances.
Catholic Trends is trying to establish contact with Most Rev. Joseph Afrifah-Agyekum, the Catholic Bishop in charge of Education on the subject. Details soon.