Basic education needs dedicated fund - GNAT advocates
The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) has called for the establishment of a dedicated fund for basic education in the country.
That, it said, would address the challenges confronting basic education which was critical to the development of schoolchildren.
“It has become absolutely critical to provide dedicated funding to supplement the provision of goods, services and capital expenditures solely for basic education in Ghana.
“This dedicated fund will have a direct impact on the supply of learning materials and facilities such as textbooks and classroom blocks to engender healthy learning outcomes at the basic level,” the General Secretary of GNAT, Thomas Musah, said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
He pointed out that funding for basic education would have a direct impact on the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4) indicators related to education such as learning (SDG 4.1.1); Early Childhood Development and Education (SDG 4.2.1 and SDG 4.2.2); Information and Communications Technology skills (SDG 4.4. 1); and Child Functioning (child disability - SDG 4.5.1).
The GNAT General Secretary therefore, stressed the need for a national dialogue on the funding of basic education which outcome should lead to the enactment of a legislation to guarantee the establishment of a dedicated fund towards the realisation of the educational rights of Ghanaian children as enjoined by Article 25 of the 1992 Constitution.
The basic education programmes in Ghana are funded by the government through the consolidated fund.
The next major sources of funding are the Internally Generated Funds (IGF) with some inflows from Development Partners (DPs) and a portion of the petroleum revenue allocated to the annual budget - the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA).
For instance, between 2017 and 2022, the Government of Ghana allocation averaged 78 per cent, with 15 per cent coming from the Internally Generated Fund (IGF), four per cent from DPs and three per cent from the ABFA.
However, Mr Musah said a careful analysis indicated that close to 90 per cent of government allocation to the education ministry went into compensation, with the remaining 10 per cent going into goods and services and capital expenditure.
“The government currently allocates 3.8 per cent of the GDP to the education sector per the 2022 budget which is well below the UNESCO target of six per cent.
An analysis of the Programme Based Budget (2022-2025) of the Ministry of Education reveals that allocation to the sector is projected to decrease further into the medium term up until 2025.
“This, thus, becomes an issue of greater concern of government's intentions to reform the education sector at all levels to improve learning outcomes.
That commitment is not reflected in government's budgetary allocation projections,” he said.
Mr Musah said although the education sector received substantial budgetary allocations compared to the other social sectors in nominal terms, long delays, coupled with the high inflationary pressures the country was facing, usually resulted in huge reductions in the real value of those budgetary allocations, thus having an adverse effect on the quantity of goods and services that could be procured to support effective learning.
Between 2017 and 2021, he said the budget allocation (in nominal terms) to the Ministry of Education lost about 32 per cent of its value to inflation.
“Analysis of pre-tertiary levels (kindergarten to junior high school) budget data shows dips in the budget allocations to the sector from 23 per cent in 2019 to 16.2 per cent in 2020, which was below the 17 per cent average for Lower Middle-Income Countries (LMICs).
In recent times, Mr Musah said funding of basic education had seen a sharp decline from seven per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012 to 3.8 per cent in 2022 and that “this has resulted in some challenges, especially from the early childhood education sub-sector through to junior high school, including inadequate goods and services, thus contributing to poor learning outcomes in the early grades”.
“Between 2017 and 2020, only eight per cent of the Ministry of Education's budget was spent on the management and subvention, which included other interventions such as the capitation grant and BECE subsidy.
This is an indication of the reason the capitation grant is among subsidies which experience funding challenges.
“For basic education, the ministry spent on the average for the same period, nine per cent on pre-school; 17 per cent on primary, and 15 per cent on JHS.
On the other hand, for the same period, the ministry spent on the average, over 26 per cent for Senior High School (SHS) and 23 per cent for tertiary education,” he revealed.
Comparatively, he said the proportion of the ministry's budget spent on pre-school and JHS had been below 20 per cent, adding that “this trend is an illustration of the low prioritisation of basic education, with its attendant negative impact on the provision of classroom infrastructure, goods and services (such as teaching and learning materials for basic schools), and teacher training.
This will ultimately lead to poor learning outcomes at the basic level.”
Sustainable Development Goal 4
Mr Musah said the country’s challenges in attaining the SDG 4 were more related to allocation and efficiency as opposed to resources which had a direct impact on the supply of learning materials such as textbooks, classroom blocks and other learning facilities, which hindered learning outcomes - particularly for basic education.
The former has a direct impact on the attainment of the SDG 4 indicators related to education such as Learning (SDG 4.1.1); Early Childhood Development and Education (SDG 4.2.1 and SDG 4.2.2); Information and Communication Technology skills (SDG 4.4.1); and Child Functioning (child disability - SDG 4.5.1) capital expenditure budgets for the ministry.