With an allocation of over 6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Ghana’s spending on education is among the highest in Africa, a World Bank report indicates.
This is above the global average of 5 percent expected of every country – although it is behind Swaziland, which has the highest education spending at 9 percent of GDP in Africa.
Malawi and Niger also spend about 7 percent of their GDP on the education sector, while Senegal and Mozambique spend 7.5 and 6.5 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, Ghana’s spending on education is expected to increase as Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia has given indication that government will increase, by GH1 billion, spending on education in the 2018 budget to boost implementation of the free Senior High School policy.
The Ministry of Education’s total budget, including the GETFUND, saw an increase of 20.7 percent in 2017 – from GHȻ 7.55 billion in 2016 to GHȻ 9.12billion.
In spite of the relatively high levels of investment in the country’s education sector, experts argue that the sector is not living up to expectations as standards are deemed to have fallen to an all-time low. Spending on the sector, as happens in other sectors, has been found to be largely for recurrent payments in wages and salaries, among others, instead of for investment in infrastructure, teaching and learning aids.
The state of education in the country, educationists argue, will restrict its ability to transform the economy from middle-income with HIPC infrastructure, low total factor productivity and weak systems, to the status of a developed economy.
Already, employers complain about the poor quality of graduates at all levels of education – with some decidedly giving preference to Ghanaians who have schooled abroad.
The World Bank report, dubbed ‘Facing Forward: Schooling with Learning in Africa’, asked the Ghanaian government to invest in quality pre-primary education, which is critical to developing non-cognitive foundational skills.
It said early childhood education can interrupt the low skills equilibrium; improving schooling, jobs, and even earnings.
“Align curricula, teacher training, materials and assessments around the goal of foundational skills for all,” it said.
It also points at the need to recognise inequality in learning opportunities, saying disadvantaged children attend schools that are also disadvantaged.
“Our policies need to help level the playing field and address particular challenges to learning for these children.”
Education, it goes on to say, does not currently build literacy effectively. Students, it said, can go through school without learning basic foundational skills in reading, math, and science.
For this reason, the report urged government to improve teacher management and support.
Infographic by Alistair Arthur-Don
‘Learning crisis’ in global education
The report warns that millions of young students in low and middle-income countries face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life, because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.
The report said schooling without learning is not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children and young people worldwide.
It further argues that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all.
“Even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math. This learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them. Young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life-skills.”