The Africa Education Watch (Eduwatch), a policy think tank, has called on the Government to prioritise basic and complementary education to reduce the number of children dropping out of school.
It said after 17 years of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education, half a million children of basic school-going age were out-of-school, and the basic schools lacked infrastructure.
Mr Kofi Asare, Executive Director, Eduwatch, made the call at the Education Financing Conference to dialogue on how the education resources would be equitably distributed and efficiently utilised to maximise learning outcomes for the Ghanaian child.
The Conference is an activity Eduwatch was undertaking as part of a Strategic Partnership for Education project 2 with the support of Oxfam, to advocate for improved domestic resources, resource mobilisation as well as accountable and equitable investment in education.
Mr Asare said 40 per cent of basic school pupils lacked desks, 5,000 schools were under trees and sheds, 25 percent of primary schools were without Junior High Schools (JHS), resulting in over 20 per cent basic school dropout rate.
He said in 2022, out of a total of GHS 1.4 billion allocated for infrastructure, only 16 per cent was allocated to basic education, with the highest 44 per cent for secondary education, an observed trend since the introduction of free Senior High School (SHS).
“Ghana cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4 Targets of Universal Basic Education by 2030 if it continues to allocate scarce education resources without equity and spending efficiency,” the Executive Director added.
Mr Asare said annually, the Government spent three times more, GHS3,633, to provide Senior High School (SHS) education for each child, compared to basic education’s GHS1,251 which declined from 47 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent in 2020.
He called for a national dialogue on restructuring the financing of secondary education, ensuring enhanced transparency and efficiency in procurement, and increase- investment in TVET, basic and complementary education to reduce the number of out-of-school children.
The Executive Director said in the 2022 budget, the education sector received only 12.8 per cent of the total budgetary allocation, which was below the international benchmark of 15 to 20 per cent.
Mrs Dorothy Konadu, Vice Chairperson, Eduwatch, said The 2018 World Bank Human Capital Index report showed that Ghanaian children waste almost 12 years of their life in school, and instead of attaining the 12 years’ worth of learning, they attain 5.7 years equivalent of the 12 years.
She called for an improved and equitable environment and equity in the distribution of resources in the education sector and the resources spent efficiently.
‘‘Very often we have very beautiful figures as our budget for education, but spending efficiency, when the money goes out and how it is used is where the challenge is.…We the poor, or we claim to be the poor and we spend resources inefficiently with a lot of wastage.” Mrs Konadu stated.
She said if efficient spending were increased, the efficiency of our educational system could be doubled without any additional resources
Participants included Civil Society Organisations, Religious Bodies, Development
Partners, academia, students, Teacher Unions and Education Sector Institutions.