District assemblies fail in basic education infrastructure mandate


Civil society organisations (CSOs) and policy think tanks in the education space have raised serious concerns about the poor state of infrastructure at the basic education level.

They indicated that district assemblies have failed woefully in achieving one of their core mandates – provide educational infrastructure at the basic level.

According to section three of the Education Act, 2008 (Act 778), district assemblies have the mandate to ensure the provision of necessary infrastructure needs and any other facilities for the education of the population in the area of their authority in the attainment of free and compulsory basic education.

However, internal revenue mobilisation has been a major challenge for most local assemblies, leading to an exponential increase in communities without basic education infrastructure, schools under trees, school dropouts and out-of-school children, and a gargantuan rate of dilapidated infrastructure.

To fan the flames, the statutory educational support financing vehicle – the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), which has played a significant role in addressing the shortfall over the years, has also been capped, depriving the sector of critical funds for infrastructure support.

The CSOs, which include Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), ActionAid Ghana, and Campaign Against Privatisation and Commercialisation of Education (CAPCOE), indicated that the four main sources of education funding at the local level – internally generated funds (IGF), the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), the Responsiveness Factor Grant (RFG), and the Members of Parliament (MPs) Common Fund, only dedicate a small percentage to education.

They lamented that on average, local assemblies only commit 10 percent of their revenue to education, with priority to furniture, teaching and learning materials, and scholarships for needy students.

“Apart from the DACF’s allocation falling below the constitutional requirement of at least five percent of government revenue, the delayed disbursement means that the ability of local authorities to finance education projects rests heavily on their IGF capacity, which is also constrained by challenges in maximising revenue mobilisation potentials,” Eduwatch stated.

Due to the failure of municipalities and district assemblies to achieve their mandate, most of the basic schools in urban centres belong to private owners, the study – conducted by Africa Education Watch and ActionAid Ghana – reported.

For instance, about 91 percent of basic schools in the Adentan Municipality are private institutions, thereby limiting access to public basic schools by the urban poor. To make matters worse, the few public schools have inadequate infrastructure, with some classrooms still under trees in some schools, including the Adentan Community School, located at the heart of the municipal capital.

Similarly, in Tema Municipality, 62 percent of the schools in the metropolis belong to the private sector.

Adoption of innovative financing models

In a report titled ‘Tax Reforms, Education Financing and Equitable Access to Public Education’, ActionAid and Eduwatch have made a clarion call for the adoption of innovative approaches to help local assemblies secure funding for educational infrastructure projects in their areas.

Executive Director of Eduwatch, Kofi Asare, stressed that considering the current state of basic education and the rather regrettable defiance of the government to uncap the GETFund to make available funds for investment, the DAs and the MMDAs must find innovative ways to raise funds for projects as that is the way to go.

“Bear in mind that the GETFUND and other funds that support the development of our education infrastructure have been capped. In view of this, it is relevant for local government stakeholders, education stakeholders, and the entire citizenry to live up to the mandate of providing basic schools so that the poor, urban and rural persons will be able to access basic education.

“Let’s not forget that according to the Ghana Statistical Services, 1.4 million children are not in school in Ghana. The only way we can ensure that these children between the ages of four and 17 have an opportunity to enjoy an education is for district assemblies to expand their capacity to build more school infrastructure,” he said.

The study recommended increased effectiveness in revenue mobilisation, stiffer sanctions for tax defaulters, and increased transparency in public spending while strengthening citizens’ participation in policy and revenue dialogue.

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