A Civil Society Group, SEND-Ghana, is questioning government’s commitment towards addressing infrastructure challenges in various second cycle schools across the country, considering the inadequate budgetary allocation to the sector.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, whilst presenting the 2018 budget statement to Parliament on Wednesday, said government has allotted GHc9.26 billion to the education sector.
But SEND-Ghana in a statement said the allocation is insignificant to address the numerous infrastructural constraints of schools in the country, because a huge chunk of the amount will be used for payment of compensation.SEND-Ghana among other things also complained that the aftermath of the introduction of the free SHS policy which experienced increased enrollment “has exposed the infrastructural deficit and logistical challenges which is affecting the smooth implementation of the policy, and for that matter impeding sound academic work.”
The implementation the free Senior High School (SHS) policy recently suffered some setbacks as some school heads attempted to charge extra fees for the procurement of facilities such as desks.
The head teachers of such schools were interdicted, while one of them at the La Presbyterian Senior High School in Accra, was transferred for asking parents of beneficiary students to pay for the purchase of plastic chairs to enable their wards sit in class.
The civil society group called on government to do everything possible to address such problems.
“The implementation of the Free Senior High School has led to increased enrolment at the SHS level from 300,195 students in the 2016/17 academic year to 396,951 students in the 2017/18 academic year, representing an increment of 32.2%. This development has exposed the infrastructural deficit and logistical challenges which is affecting the smooth implementation of the policy and for that matter impeding sound academic work. Yet government’s allocation to capital expenditure and goods and services were insignificant to address this situation,” the statement added.
SEND-Ghana again raised issues with budgetary allocation in other sectors including health, agriculture, sanitation, and child protection.
On agriculture, the civil society group raised concerns about government’s over reliance on oil revenue known as Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), to shore up the drop in donor support, saying it might affect funding of the One-District One-Factory initiative, and other audacious promises made by government for the sector.
“A significant drop in donor funding (from 49% to 21.5%) was observed in the 2018 agriculture sector budget. The burden appears to have been shifted to Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA), increasing MOFA’s reliance on the fund from 18% in 2017 to 41.6% in 2018. Though government is gradually moving away from the reliance on donor funding, it is important not to over rely on ABFA given the volatile nature of oil prices on the world market. It is expected that a significant drop in world market prices of oil will affect funding to the sector, making it suffer predictability constraints,” the statement added. Click here for the full statement:
Budgetary allocation for Free SHS ‘woefully inadequate’ – Ablakwa
National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has already described the government’s budgetary allocation for Free SHS as woefully inadequate to support the programme.
According to him, government would need at least two billion cedis to support Free SHS in 2018, 800 million cedis more than the amount that was allocated to it in the budget.
You can’t rely on voluntary contributions for Free SHS- Ablakwa
Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has also said the government cannot afford to rely on voluntary contributions to fund education, particularly free SHS, as projections for those funds may not materialize.
The government announced that it would set up a fund to receive voluntary contributions from individuals to support the implementation of the free SHS programme and the educational sector as a whole.
However, this plan has been criticized by the Minority who believe this is an indication that government does not have the funds to properly implement its much-touted programme.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana