Poor infrastructure in some basic schools has been identified as a major driver of school drop-outs in the country.
Cletus Sungdong, Policy Associate for Africa Education Watch, a civil society group focused on education, who disclosed this said, currently, more than 5,000basic schools were being operated under trees,while about 4,200 schools also lack Junior High School infrastructure.
These schools, according to him, were mostly situated in the Northern, Volta and Ashantiregionswith few from the Greater Accra Region.
He was addressing a budget forum in Accra last Thursday organised by the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) in collaboration with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) ahead of the 2022 mid-year budget review.
The budget forum provided ideas on four themes “Fiscal, Energy and Mining, Health, and Education.”
Mr Sungdong, said between 20 and 25 per cent of student drop-out in Ghana was due to lack of school infrastructure in the communities.
He noted that the situation, just as other challenges in the education sector, had been exacerbated by inadequate financing.
Mr Sungdong explained that students who completed their basic schools in such communities had to travel long distances to other towns or villages before they could continue their Junior High school (JHS) education.
He said although the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) was created to address such challenges, the GH₵1.4 billion which was generated in 2021 for infrastructural works in schools, 60 per cent was used to pay debts.
Mr Sungdong called for a review of the 25 per cent capping of GETFundto 10 per cent, saying the capping was affecting the education sector.
“Disbursements and releases of the GETFund is low, meanwhile infrastructural projects at the basic and junior high level must be completed but have been left abandoned due to lack of funds.
Within the first quarter of this year, GETFund was aboutGHC2.6 billion but debt level keeps rising as a result of too much borrowing. We know that GH₵50 million of GetFund have been used to build some schools but that is not enough to eradicate the 5,000schools under trees,” he stated.
Expressing concern on the Free Senior High School (SHS) policy, Mr Sungdong called for a review of the policy.
“People who can afford to pay fees should do so, so that the free SHS and feeding would be for the less privileged in the country, in order to save the extra funds for other developmental purposes in schools,” he advised.