ActionAid subscribes to the global notion that education is a Human Right, a public good and a public responsibility as enshrined in Article 25, clause (1) of the 1992 Constitution which guarantees that “all persons shall have the right to equal educational opportunities and facilities and a view to achieving the full realisation of that right.”
Again, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which Ghana committed to in 2015, expressly state under Goal 4 to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all.” The ten envisaged targets under Goal 4 of the SDGs collectively seek to ensure that “all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes by 2030.”
Moreover, under the Education 2030 Framework for Action, UNESCO member states have committed to allocate four to six per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and/or at least 15 to 20 per cent of their total public expenditure to education in general and with a particular focus on basic education.
It is noteworthy that in 2012, Ghana recorded the highest total education expenditure allocation in recent times, with 27 per cent of total government expenditure being allocated to education; an equivalent of eight per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. In that year, basic education received a 47.5 per cent share of the budgetary allocation for education, with a significant amount dedicated to financing the construction of basic schools.
Unfortunately and subsequently, education expenditure allocations have remained below 24 per cent. The continuing challenge with financing public education in Ghana has largely been created by competitive budgetary demands from various sectors of the economy vis-a-vis the state’s subletting of its responsibility of education financing to private sector providers. This has adversely affected access and quality of public basic education over the years.
The outlook for basic education especially is troubling, with an average annual expenditure growth set at only three per cent which is well below the expected rate of inflation. Without increased investments, the target of attaining inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all will remain a mirage. Ghana may thus not succeed in achieving the desired gender equality and consequently not attain the objective of breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.
As we mark the fifth international education day themed “to invest in people, prioritize education.”, ActionAid Ghana calls on the Ministry of Finance and Education to address the unacceptably low budgetary allocation to the education sector.
We believe that the reduction in budgetary allocation from 4.06 per cent to 3.09 per cent of GDP and 15. 05 per cent to 12.97 per cent of the government’s total expenditure in 2022 and 2023 respectively, falls below the targets of the 2030 education framework.
Also, we are concerned that the low allocation may derail the desired target to build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender friendly and which guarantee safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
John Nkaw, Country Director, ActionAid Ghana asserts; “While recognising that parliament has passed the tax exemptions bill into law, we believe that the expenditure gap can be addressed if the government improves domestic resource mobilisation by enforcing provisions of the tax exemption bill, curb the tax leakages and increase the efficiency of educational investments to raise enough funds for education financing. Tax incentives and other illicit losses to the taxpayer ultimately impact negatively on government funding for education. The mobilised resources therein could improve infrastructure for children in school, feed children and also employ additional teachers.”
We further call on the government to take concrete action towards financing public, equitable, inclusive and free education. Government must take decisive, forward-looking and expedient actions to reconfigure budget allocations in favour of the education sector and secure the future of our teeming youngsters who are in danger of being left behind.