A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOS) has called on the government to diversify the source of funding for its flagship Free Senior High School programme to make it more sustainable.
Speaking during the CSOS Budget Forum in reaction to the 2020 financial budget, Chairman of the Civil Society Platform, Dr Steve Manteaw said, the country could rely solely on the proceeds from oil resources to fund the programme.
Currently, the Free SHS programme is being funded by the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) which are proceeds from the country’s oil resources.
“We cannot put all our hopes on oil revenue for the successful implementation of the programme because it is not sustainable,” he stated.
He added that owing to the changing dynamics within the petroleum sector with regards to unexpected price fluctuations, it was prudent for an alternative source of funding to be secured by the government to sustain the programme.
Otherwise he said the country would struggle to maintain the programme which he described as laudable and a good step to improving education in the country.
“Over 500,000 students have benefitted from the programme introduced in 2017 and efforts must be made for it to be maintained to benefit the future generation,” he stressed.
Adding his voice, coordinator of the CSOS Budget Forum, Leonard Shang-Quartey, said the Free SHS should not be overly dependent on the ABFA to the detriment of other sectors.
He recommended that, the potential of the informal sector must be unlocked by way of taxing areas such as rent, which would help in the delivery of social services such as the Free SHS.
“There is also an abuse with regards to granting of exemptions which could have provided a lot of savings that could help support the Free SHS,” he stated.
Executive Director of Africa Education Watch, Kofi Asare added that the education sector was the biggest in the country and must receive adequate funding to run its activities.
He said there was a huge funding gap of about 80 per cent in the area of goods and services which would affect the quality of education in the country.
“Goods and services are the areas that impact directly on the quality of education and government must ensure that the right budget is located for that aspect,” he stressed.
There were presentations on areas including oil and gas, health, government state revenue mobilisation, governance and accountability and agriculture.
BY MICHAEL D. ABAYATEYE