|Akora Edem Senanu, middle in School cloth|
FINANCING SECONDARY EDUCATION: THE ROLE OF STAKEHOLDERS
84TH ACHIMOTA SCHOOL SPEECH AND PRIZE GIVING DAY
KWAMI EDEM SENANU
The Board of Governors, Headmistress Akora Beatrice Adom, Guest of Honour Akora Prof. Ernest Aryeetey – Vice Chancellor for the University of Ghana, Distinguished Guests, Parents, Teachers, Friends, Students, the special Class of 86, Ladies and Gentlemen.
“Ultimately it is the Human Capital or Resources of a nation and not its physical or natural resources that will determine the character and pace of its development”. Human Resource is key not oil, not gold, not cocoa, not timber nor anything else because it is people who will determine how efficiently all these resources will be utilized for the public good.
When we talk about Human Capital/Resource we are talking about knowledge and skills that enhance productive capacity and the platform to achieve this is education. Human capital refers to the ability and efficiency of people to transform raw materials and capital into goods and services, and the consensus is that these skills can be learned through the educational system. As in the words of the late Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, when talking about the greatest need of his people it is clearly “Education, Education and Education”.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SECONDARY EDUCATION
The World Bank reported in 2005 that the provision and expansion of good quality secondary education is a critical tool towards generating opportunities and benefits of social and economic development. Educating people provides opportunities, and is one of the best anti-poverty strategies. It is also one of the best ways of ensuring a country’s economic prosperity and competitiveness. It is estimated that average earnings increase by 11 percent with each additional year of education. Each additional year of maternal education also reduces childhood mortality by about 8 percent (World Bank, 2005). And so we say that “female education is the single most important factor in breaking the inter-generational cycle of poverty”.
Mingat and Tan (1996) estimated the full social returns to education in various economies between 1960 and 1985 in work that concurred with a study by Bray in 2002 and concluded that education of the workforce expands productivity by facilitating the discovery, adaptation and use of more economically rewarding processes.
The generalised recommendation from the two studies is that low-income countries tend to benefit more from primary education investment, while middle income countries, including those about to achieve universal primary education, tend to gain highest social returns from expansion of secondary education. On the other hand, high-income countries derive highest returns from tertiary education.
Bray (2002) as do many contemporary educationists also advances the argument that financing of education requires public spending on the levels of education for which social returns exceed private returns (e.g. basic education) and increased private spending is required on investments that yields higher private returns (higher and continuing education).
To make the distinction between basic, secondary and tertiary education let me state that Ghana presently has a 9-3-4 education system. The first nine years that make up basic education consists of primary education of 6 years and 3 years of junior secondary school. Then you move on to Senior High which is being described as secondary or pre-tertiary.
Ultimately the benefits of education have been shown as going directly to an individual and the society. Individuals with more education tend to have better employment opportunities, greater earnings, and produce more output than those who are less educated. This includes such benefits as increased participation in the political process, greater charity donations, reduced dependency on social support programmes, reduced criminal activity, increased savings, better health, lower mortality rates, and increased life expectancy
These research results provide a strong rationale for governments, families and individuals to invest substantial portions of their resources in education, with the expectation that higher benefits will accrue over time. The findings also clearly show that not only is expanding and providing quality secondary education key to making substantive progress and tangible returns from our newly found “middle income status” in Ghana but that while increased Government spending is required at the basic level, increased private spending should be seriously considered as we move beyond the basic level to higher education and this our context includes Senior High or Senior Secondary School.
For clarity let me state that these findings do not suggest that the state has no role in funding higher education or guaranteeing that citizens with the necessary talents can benefit from higher education. These findings highlight the fact that Governments should consider focusing their meager resources on expanding and ensuring quality basic education whilst engaging private sector and civil society to develop models and mechanisms that guarantee adequate funding for secondary and higher education.
The state therefore remains ultimately responsible for providing the leadership required to develop sustainable education financing models at all levels and must be seen to be proactively taking steps in this direction. The state will always be responsible for providing skills and opportunities that guarantee the survival and development of its citizens. However just like our traditional societies and our own families, we must make greater investments in our children who have and show more talent with the expectations that these will move on and bring greater returns to our families and society at large. Evidently in this context needy or disadvantaged but brilliant individuals will need more attention. It is also important that educational institutions continue to emphasize that the individual is supported to learn ultimately to give back to society.
3.0 WHY IS FINANCING IS AN ISSUE?
The previous arguments highlight the fact that secondary education is an important link between basic education and the working world, on one hand, and additional training or educational opportunities on the other. However, in spite of how important this is for developing countries, the costs of provision and expansion of quality secondary education have been escalating while resources for secondary education have been dwindling.
The Government of Ghana itself came out with a white paper on tertiary education in 1992 which stated that government alone cannot continue to bear the increasing cost of higher education and therefore, there was the need for cost sharing by all stakeholders.
While Senior Secondary is not in the strict sense higher education it is higher than basic and indeed many schools like Achimota have been starved of both adequate development and recurrent expenditure making it impossible for them to operate effectively and efficiently. It is a huge concern to the Achimotan Class of 86 and many, many other concerned stakeholders that if the challenges of adequate funding for education and in this context Achimota are not addressed quickly, it would lead to the demise of this important national heritage.
Specific concerns include inadequate government support, irregular disbursement of the support and the disproportionate contribution by direct beneficiaries and their parents. These have all contributed to make the funding of secondary education very challenging. This also invariably is the root of the frustrations of heads of educational institutions all over the country.
It is important to note that globally financing of education is a challenge. Consequently it is the ingenuity of each government to meet the needs of its citizens that matters most and we require our policy analysts to re-think the policy/financing models and provide more sustainable approaches.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR EDUCATION
Government support for the educational sector has been increasing since 2006. Prior to the re-basing of the economy and GDP national statistics show that Education expenditure as a share of GDP has ranged as high as 8.2% minimum and 10.1% maximum over the last past 5 years. This is in contrast with UNESCO and the African Union’s suggestions that actual expenditure should be appromixately 6% of GDP. Likewise, education expenditure as a percentage of total government spending has been on the average about 20% over the period . In 2010, educations share a total government spending and as a percentage of GDP was 23.2 % and 9.8% respectively.
However taking the rebasing into account will make the current level of education expenditure as a share of GDP is 5.8% which would put Ghana below the UNESCO target at least 6% of public expenditure.
Table: Trends in Education Expenditure by levels