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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Education budget falls below sub-Saharan African average of 15% –

Educational infrastructure is currently in a deplorable state of infrastructure, especially at the basic level, and the situation is set to worsen on the back of the 2024 budget allocation for the sector.

The government, in its 2024 Fiscal Policy and Budget Statement, has only allocated 14.5 percent to the education sector, which is shy of the 15.5 percent sub-Saharan African (SSA) average and about six percent short of the international benchmark minimum of 20 percent.

An intriguing twist to this situation, though, is that the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, at the Global Education Summit held in July 2021 in the United Kingdom (UK), pledged to world leaders to spend at least 23 percent of the national budget on the development of education in the country over the medium term – 2021 to 2025.

Out of the projected government expenditure of GH₵226billion, only GH₵32.7billion, representing 14.5 percent, was allocated to the education sector. This is not only lower than the 23 percent pledge of President Nana Addo, but also lower than the 2023 sub-Saharan African average of 15.5 percent and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) member-states commitment to allocate a minimum of 20 percent to education.

Over the past seven years, the economy of Ghana has increased by four-fold and is projected to increase further in 2024. However, as the economy expands, education’s share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) continues to decline.

With a projected GDP of GH₵1.05trillion in 2024, the allocation of GH₵32.7billion to education represents only a 3.3 percent share of GDP, which is lower than UNESCO’s target of six percent and sub-Saharan Africa’s average of five percent.

Considering that the government, in the 2023 Budget Statement in a similar fashion, committed only 12 percent to the education sector, one would have expected amends with at least a minimum requirement this time around; but unfortunately, the trend continues amid heightened inflation and currency depreciation challenges.

A policy think tank, the Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), describes the trend as alarming as it would negatively affect Ghana’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal Four (SDG-4) to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all” target by 2030.

Chief Executive Officer of Eduwatch, Kofi Asare, sharing his opinion said: “Ghana must re-set its public education financing protocols to improve the supply of the globally competitive human capital needed to drive economic development”.

Sector budget expenditure breakdown

Out of the total allocation to education, about GH₵22.50billion, representing 68.8 percent, is earmarked for salaries and related expenses/compensation of employees, compared to 65 percent in the main 2023 budget.

In the area of education infrastructure investment, only GH₵985million, representing three percent of the total education allocation is earmarked for Capital Expenditure (CAPEX). Goods and services, where the non-salary recurrent cost of running education is financed, received an allocation of GH₵6.07billion, representing 18.7 percent.

GH₵2.7billion, representing about eight percent of the total education budget, is allocated to the Free Senior High School (FSHS) and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes.

GH₵3.2billion is allocated to GETFund, representing an increase of 78 percent compared to the 2023 main budgetary allocation of GH₵1.8billion. However, because of the capping of the GETFund Levy by the government, the 2024 allocation represents only 40 percent of the projected GETFund Levy accruals of GH₵7.9billion for 2024.

An amount of GH₵1.39billion is allocated to the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP). GH₵6.2million is allocated to the Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF), and GH₵222 million is earmarked for the payment of teacher trainees’ allowances compared to GH₵240million in 2023.

The Capitation Grant (CG) received an amount of GH₵84million. This is the first time the CG is receiving a full allocation since it was increased to GH₵10 per pupil/year in 2018.

Infrastructure deficit at basic level

There are 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. This, coupled with the over 5,000 basic schools taking place under trees, sheds and dilapidated structures, and the lack of Junior High Schools in about 4,000 primary schools, must be enough reason for the government to listen to calls by Parliament and civil society for uncapping the GETFund.

Source: thebftonline.com

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