Executive Director of the education think tank Africa Education Watch, Mr Kofi Asare has said it is wasteful for the government to go to any length to find money feed adults in the Colleges of Education.
Commenting on the recent letter the Principals of the 40 Colleges of Education sent to the Education Ministry, Mr Asare said that “this is not the first time we have seen such letters and immediately such ultimatums are set or given government will find money because it is afraid of the political cost and still go on to feed adult learners in our training institutions”.
What as an institution we expected from the Principals of the Colleges of Education is that “they should rather advise the government to cancel the policy because it is not sustainable especially given the financial challenges we are going through unfortunately because it is a political flagship everything possible will be done by the government to raise money to feed the adult learners to the detriment of other sectors of the economy”.
Mr Asare revealed that some areas in the education sector barely survive under these harsh economic conditions. “The basic schools for example at the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection had a budget allocation that was supposed to enable them to add 600,000 more children to the Ghana School Feeding Program which is 600,000 more basic school children. The Finance Minister announced in the budget that government was going to increase the number of beneficiaries of the program to three million”.
Explaining further, he revealed that “the Gender Ministry came to parliament and said it was not going to be possible due to the cuts that happened in the first quarter so the government simply said we do not have money to enrol 600,000 more basic school children onto the program. Bear in mind that this program is for children who are in areas where there is malnourishment, issues of poverty to beef up retention of enrolment in schools”.
The second issue being raised by Mr Asare is the fact that “from the beginning of the year government is supposed to transfer at least GHS60,000 to every district education office. That money is used to run the offices responsible for managing basic education in the district. They go to schools to monitor teaching and learning and supervise the process and all this time since the first quarter no funding has been released for running basic education offices in quarters 2, 3 and 4”.
He added, “Most districts have only received GHS4,000 that was around March out of 60,000 which is supposed to be allocated in the regional offices. The situation is the same, no funding to run the office has been released since the second quarter. You have such a situation in the district and regional education offices, the reason is that three is no money”.
“Their capitation grant is in arrears of tranches that transcend a year. This term, they are supposed to receive three tranches of capitation grant, to the best of my knowledge, only one tranche was received in term one before this there were arrears backlogs of previous years. So a lot of schools are running on credit”.
He revealed that “headmasters are taking money from Susu collectors as loan to run the schools so when the capitation grant comes in they will pay back. We know headmasters are running schools with their money. This is the reality that is happening in the basic schools because the government says there is no money .’’
“So if there is no money for running district education offices and regional education offices and capitation grant is in arrears why is that anytime a government flagship like teacher training allowance, Free SHS, why is it that anytime they request for funds no matter the circumstance government will find the money and majority of the time the money is meant for food why is it so?”
To him, “this creates the impression that some aspect of the sector is more important than the other because one is a political flagship and the other is perhaps a constitutional obligation which does not augur well for a balanced education.”
“That is, our position on financing feeding in the CoEs affects the general system. We have indicated from the beginning that the policy is wasteful. They are tertiary students and should asses the student loan rather just like the others what government should do is to strengthen the student loan system to be assessable to all”.