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IMANI Alert: 2009-2014 expenditure on education: Where is the money going and what are we getting?

                                                                                                                                                                                 By Festus  Ankrah.

In 2012, education became the central theme of the general election with different proposals on the way forward for the education in Ghana. Education serves as the source of skilled human resource required to support the productive sectors of the economy. Therefore the education system of a country should be one which seeks to aid the development of the country since the social, cultural, political, health and religious wellbeing of the country is dependent on how the benefits inherent in education is tapped.
The objectives of education in Ghana under the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS II) and the Ghana Shared Growth Development Agenda (GSGDA) concur with the attainment of the Education for All (EFA) goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aims to propel Ghana towards attaining middle-income status. A summary of the key issues from across all the policy frameworks include: improving equitable access to education and participation in quality education at all levels, improving quality of teaching and learning, bridging the gender gap in access to education, improving access to quality education for people with disabilities and promoting science and technology at all levels of education.

Government expenditure from 2009-2014
It is worth noting that the expenditure on education as a percentage of total GDP was 5.3% in 2009, 5.5% in 2010, 6.3% in 2011, 7.9 % in 2012, 6.1% in 2013 and 5.85 in 2014. The Ministry of Education in a bid to carry out the policy objectives received the highest budgetary allocation of the total MDA budget allocation over the period with an average allocation in excess of 14.4% of the total appropriation. The macro level allocation to the Ministry of Education constituted 17.3%, 16.95%, 18.63% and 14.4 % of total appropriation for the fiscal years 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively. Nominal allocation to the ministry showed an increasing trend over the period from 14.8% between 2010 and 2011 to 21.7% between 2011 and 2012.

Source: Computed from Budget Statements of Ghana/ESPR

Total expenditure on education in 2014 was GHS 6.6 billion which represents a 17.5% increase from GHS 3.6 billion in 2013. The Education expenditure to GOG expenditure ratio showed an average 22.2% for the period under review. Education expenditure to GDP average 6% over the period which meets the 6% threshold established by UNESCO and the African Union.
The budget and spending pattern on the education sector over the period has been skewed towards compensation. During the period 2009 to 2014, compensation expenditure accounted for over 70% of the education spending. 2014 compensation expenditure was GHS 5.1 billion representing an 18.6% increase in the previous year’s compensation expenditure of GHS 4.3 billion.
Expenditure on infrastructure (Asset) in the sector has been inadequate. In 2012, GHS 647 million was allocated for capex but only 46% (GHS 300 million) was spent. The capex in 2014 accounted for only 0.19% of total education expenditure which paints a deteriorating picture of the level of investment or capital expenditure in the sector. The deficit in asset spending, has translated into the slow progress towards quality of education in Ghana. This is very evident in the recent trend of poor performances in the BECE and WASSCE and high youth unemployment.

Source: Budget Statements of Ghana and ESPRs

Progress in enrolment
Progress has been made in increasing access across the levels of basic education and secondary education with all enrolment indicators showing improvement for the period under review (2009-2014). The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at primary level rose from 94.9% in 2008/09 to 107.3% in 2013/14 which comparably is better than the Sub Sahara Africa’s (SSA) five year average of 99%. At the Junior High School (JHS) level, the gross enrolment ratio increased from 80.2% in 2008/09 to 82% in 2013/14. A similar incremental trend is seen in the gross enrolment ratio at the Senior High School level from 36.1% in 2008/09 to 43.9% in 2013/14.However, progress is slow compared to the Middle Income Countries (MIC) average of 61% but much higher when compared to the SSA average of 39%. A look at Net Enrolment Rate (NER) at the primary level recorded mixed trends; an initial decrease from 88.3% in 2008/09 to 77.8% in 2010/11 and then significant jump to 89.3 in 2013/14. The JHS level also exhibited the same mixed trend as enrolment decreased from 47.5% in 2008/09 to 46.1% in 2011/12 and later increased to 49.2% in 2013/14. At the SHS level, NER increased from 18.5% to 21.8% over the period. These results appear to suggest that Ghana might be on track to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of universal primary education by 2015 although there are quality issues that need attention.

Source: Education Sector Performance Reports (ESPRs)

A recommendation
The Government should aim to have a capex budget of 20% of total education expenditure in order to improve the quality of education if we truly want to attain the new Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all) in 2030.
The progress of Ghana is directly related to progress in the education system of Ghana. The expenditure pattern in the sector is not impactful since most of the funds end up in consumables (compensation) leaving little for the infrastructural development of the education sector. The infrastructural development of the education sector has been dependent on GETFUND over the years. It is essential, however, that more of the ABFA funds is allocated to the education sector in order to address the infrastructure problem/deficit of the sector.

Festus Ankrah is a research assistant with IMANI

NB: GER- Gross Enrolment Ratio: The number of children enrolled in a level (primary or secondary), regardless of age, divided by the population of the age group that officially corresponds to the same level. NER- Net Enrolment Ratio: is the ratio of the number of children of official school age who are enrolled in education to the total population of children of official school age. CAPEX- Capital Expenditure. ESPR- Education Sector Performance Report. ABFA- Annual Budget Funding Amount. GETFUND- Ghana Education Trust Fund


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