African Education Watch (Eduwatch), as part of its budget review analysis, has called on government to put a stop to the annual GH₵200million subvention allocated to students of Colleges of Education (COE) as feeding subvention.
According to Eduwatch, taking into consideration that the country is in an economic crisis – leading to dire funding for educational projects situation at the basic level across the country, such wasteful spending must be truncated to free some extra revenue for capital expenditure (Capex) to address lack of basic infrastructure.
“The continuous spending of over Gh₵200million annually on feeding and stipends for adult students in tertiary Colleges of Education is wasteful. Government must migrate all needy teacher trainees onto the guarantor-free students’ loan scheme, and rather strengthen its effectiveness by ensuring prompt payment of the students’ loan,” Eduwatch stated.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta, in the 2023 budget presentation said: “To ensure that no qualified tertiary student is denied access because they are unable to pay fees, the ‘No Guarantor Students Loan Policy’ was rolled out to make it easier for students in tertiary institutions to access loans in support of their education. The implementation of this pro-poor policy will remove barriers and significantly increase inclusive access to tertiary education”.
Eduwatch believes this statement is an indication that every tertiary student, including those in the CoE, are equal and must all be provided the privilege of benefitting from this initiative rather than the wasteful feeding subvention system.
With about 1.2 million children out of basic school in Ghana mainly because of huge deficits in the availability of public basic schools in underserved communities – coupled with the over-5,000 basic schools taking place under trees, in sheds and dilapidated structures; and the lack of Junior High Schools in about 4,000 primary schools. Cutting down on some less critical expenditure of the education sector budgetary allocation to address this challenge is the way to go, and the COE feeding component must be scrubbed.
This call is not far-fetched as the Principals of Colleges of Education (PRINCOF) recently petitioned the Ministry of Education (MoE) for the right to let students fend for themselves.
According to them, this call was necessitated by the Gh₵6.50 per head a day no longer being enough due to the high cost of living induced by increasing inflation among others.
They mentioned that they can no longer buy food on credit as they owe so much money to suppliers. This implies that government must first of all make funds available for payment of arrears and also increase daily allocation per head if the Programme is to continue, which would further burden the education sector allocation.
Eduwatch is of the view it is therefore appropriate that government listens to PRINCOF and completely does away with this system to bring relief for the education sector’s limited resources, considering government was not able to meet its promise to give at least 15 percent of budget sum allocation to education.