President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for a broad national discussion on state funding of education in the country.
Responding to calls by some sections of the public for a review of the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy due to its constraint on the government’s budget, the President said there was a need for a comprehensive national discourse on public spending on education.
At the moment, he said the government was spending on school feeding, nursing and teacher training allowances, public scholarships, among other expenditures in addition to the Free SHS policy
In a meeting with the leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) at the Jubilee House in Accra yesterday, the President stressed the need for a discussion on public funding on education in general, instead of a review of Free SHS.
In terms of budgetary terms, he said Ghana spent the most on education in Africa, adding that that, notwithstanding, the amount spent on education in the country was still inadequate
“If it was adequate, we would deal with the amount we spend on students for the feeding programme, we would deal with the issue of training allowances, we would deal with the issue of scholarships, all these are direct result of budgetary constraints in the system,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo dismissed calls for a suspension or cancelation of the Free SHS policy due to budgetary constraint and insisted that the policy would not be reviewed under his administration.
“It is for a public good. The benefits for the nation and the society are obvious,” he said, indicating that almost all Ghanaian children now had access to basic education in the country.
The impact of the policy on enrolment, according to him, was a major achievement for the country, with 95 per cent of Ghanaian students now in school at the basic level.
However, at the tertiary level, he said the ratio of Ghanaian students in schools were just 20 per cent. He therefore stressed the need for policies to be put in place to increase tertiary enrolment to 40 per cent by the year 2030.
President Akufo-Addo said even with the target of 40 per cent in the next 8 years, it was nowhere near countries like Korea, where tertiary education stood at 93 per cent.
“These are the countries leading the world in terms of technological advancement and science-based development and that is where we should be going. It will require a quantum leap in the number of people in our educational system. All of that at the end of the day becomes a question of money,” he said.
The President of NUGS, Denis AppiahLarbiAmpofo, appealed to the government to acquire a vehicle to facilitate the activities of the union.
He urged the government to come up with policies to improve the enrolment of tertiary education in the country.