Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch) has urged all stakeholders involved in education financing in the country to employ equitability in the allocation of financial resources for coherent and balanced growth.
The civil society organisation (CSO) reiterated that the Ministry of Education, Ghana Education Service (GES), and the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) prioritising parts of the education sector to neglect others is inimical to achieving Sustainable Development Goal four (SDG-4) target by 2030.
The SDG-4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Executive Director of Eduwatch, Kofi Asare, stated that there are about six million students in public basic schools (from primary to Junior High School) in the country, which is the highest among all the forms of education but basic education continues to receive a small share of GETFund disbursement.
“There are about six million students in public basic schools and 1.2 million in secondary, with some 500,000 in tertiary institutions; but basic education has the highest infrastructure gap with over 5,000 schools existing under trees, sheds and dilapidated structures, and 4,000 primary schools without JHS, causing a high drop-out rate of up to 28 percent in underserved regions in the northern part of the country,” he said.
He made these remarks at the Education Financing Conference organised by Eduwatch, in partnership with DANIDA and Oxfam, held at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT.
In 2021, only 7.3 percent of GETFund’s discretionary expenditure was spent on basic education compared to 28.8 percent for secondary and 38.2 percent for tertiary, he explained.
Mr. Asare further bemoaned that the low prioritisation of basic education in terms of financing to the benefit of free SHS and tertiary education defeats the idea of achieving the target of universal primary enrolment and completion.
“Out of a total amount of GH₵1.4 billion allocated for infrastructure by GETFund, only 16 percent was allocated to basic education, with the highest 44 percent and 40 percent going to secondary and tertiary education respectively.
The Eduwatch entreated GETFund to employ equitable apportioning of receivables which is critical for the balanced growth of basic, secondary and tertiary education in Ghana.
In line with the ‘Education 2030 Framework’ for action and the huge basic school infrastructure gap, the MoE needs to reposition GETFund to prioritise basic school infrastructure.
He cited the introduction of free SHS as a contributing factor to the undercut financing of basic schools.
“This is partly due to the introduction of free SHS as a flagship government policy and political promise. The policy has led to increased enrolment from about 813,000 in the 2016/17 academic year to 1.2 million by 2020, putting severe fiscal pressure on the government to expand secondary school infrastructure to accommodate the growing numbers,” said the executive director.
The Eduwatch also entreated the MoE and GES to use competitive procurement to achieve spending efficiency, emphasising that the consistent single-source procurement in the sector is retrogressive.