80% of education budget spent on emoluments

Matthew Opoku Prempeh

Though the education sector continues to receive the highest budgetary allocation, more than 80 percent is spent on salaries and compensation – leaving little for the provision of goods and services.

In 2019, for instance, GH¢11.2billion has been allocated to the Education Ministry, an increase of 20.9 percent over the previous year – but only GH¢ 1.5billion constituting 13.11 percent is earmarked for goods and services.

With a global average of about 5 percent, Ghana spends over 6 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. Ghana has one of the highest expenditures on education as a proportion of GDP compared to other countries

Currently, the proportion of GDP and budgetary expenditures on education in Ghana is one of the highest in the world.

However, these expenditures in education – mostly geared toward salaries and compensation – do not give us commensurate output in terms of enrolment, retention and results.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Education has therefore expressed concern about this development, and called for more spending on goods and services. It also urged government to release funds on time to ensure smooth implementation of the country’s educational policies.

The Committee further noted that the Ghana Education Service (GES) was provided GH¢5.6billion in 2018 for the implementation of its programmes and activities. However, as at October 2018, a total amount of GH¢5.9billion had been expended, indicating an overrun of its approved budget by about GH¢300million

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Explaining the reason for the excess expenditure to the Committee, the GES said in the year 2018 the Service requested GH¢5.8billion as compensation/salaries for its employees, but was allocated GH¢5.2billion, leaving a funding gap of GH¢506million.

Again, the GES said approval for an 11 percent salary increase for GES – which took effect in January 2018 – amounted to GH¢6.3million. Thus, the budget shortfall, together with the 11 percent salary increment, brought the total shortfall in salaries/compensation to GH¢1.1billion.

“In the course of the year, the Ministry of Education applied to the Ministry of Finance for additional funds to cater for compensation needs of GES; hence the excess expenditure,” the Committee noted in its report

The Committee therefore urged the Finance Ministry to ensure that adequate funds are made available for goods and services, and are released timeously to enable the Ministry of Education performs its functions effectively, given the state of education in the country.

Experts have argued that the state of education in the country will restrict the ability to transform the economy from a lower middle-income country with poor infrastructure, low total factor productivity and weak systems to the status of a developed economy.

Already, employers complain about the quality of graduates at all levels of education, with some decidedly giving preference to Ghanaians who have schooled abroad.

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