School for Life raises issues with 2023 budgetary allocation to basic education sector

By Albert Futukpor

Tamale, Dec 10, GNA – School for Life (SfL), a non-governmental organisation has said the allocation to the basic education sector under the 2023 budget does not specify how the huge infrastructure gap at the basic educational level will be plugged. 

     It has also said the freeze on employment to both public and civil sectors will aggravate the plight of rural schools, which most often are major beneficiaries of newly recruited teacher postings. 

     This was contained in a statement issued by SfL and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tamale on Friday after review of the budgetary allocation to basic education sector. 

     To promote basic education, the 2023 budget outlined several measures including to raise the budget for school feeding caterer payment by an additional GH¢138 million, embark upon mobile library van outreaches in 1,200 basic schools across the country to promote reading culture and access to reading materials, inspect and license 24,500 private schools at the pre-tertiary level and conduct school performance inspections in 2,381 public and private basic schools. 

     The statement said “Excluding the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), the total allocation to the Ministry of Education MoE for 2023 is GH¢22.9 billion. Of this amount, GH¢2.7 billion, which represents about 12 per cent of MoE allocation, is devoted to Capital Expenditure (CAPEX).” 

     It explained that “It is the CAPEX amount that will be used to finance educational infrastructure, including basic education infrastructure. The concern is that GH¢1.6 billion of the CAPEX allocations, constituting 59% of CAPEX, is expected to come from development partners. Given the current unfriendly global economic climate, and concerns about Ghana’s creditworthiness, this amount may not be realised putting capital expenditure in the educational sector at significant risk.” 

     It touched on the School Feeding Programme (SFP) saying “In the 2023 budget, a total of GH¢969 million is allocated to the SFP representing a nominal increase of about 10% over the 2022 allocation of GH¢881 million.” 

     It said “Despite the increase, government will be unable to match the increase in feeding grant per pupil per school-going day from 97Gp to GH¢3 requested by SFP caterers. Given that inflation is currently above 40%, in real terms, the allocation to SFP in 2023 has declined. If the inflationary pressures continue to mount in 2023, and if no further measures are taken to increase feeding grant amounts in line with caterer demands, we might experience agitations from SFP caterers as happened in 2022.” 

     The statement called on government to consider a total uncapping of GETFund revenues to release funds for investment at all levels of education, especially primary education to address the issue of schools under trees and reduce the incidence of abandoned projects in the educational sector. 

     It said, “Parliament must ensure fair and equitable distribution of GETFund receivables, favouring infrastructure investments in basic education before approving the GETFund distribution formula in the first quarter of 2023.” 

     It said “On the freeze of employment, the government must clarify whether employment under ‘very critical cases will include teacher recruitment. If not, we urge the government to include teacher recruitment, especially in underserved basic schools as a critical need in 2023 in order not to worsen educational quality in deprived and rural schools.” 

     The statement further indicated, “Given that the amount allocated to the SFP will not match the demands of caterers for feeding grants per child per school-going day to be raised from 97Gp to GH¢3, the government should start engaging caterers to agree on the way forward while seeking supplementary funding to plug the funding gap.” 

     It said “The proposed conduct of school performance inspections in 2,381 basic schools and grant support for SPIPs, if well implemented, can contribute to quality basic education. With limited resources to go around amid the economic crunch, the MoE must ensure that these initiatives are properly implemented in consultation with the relevant stakeholders.”