Schools levying morning devotion fees?
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman
Though the capitation Grant had been introduced in basic schools to relieve parents from payment of school fees, school authorities still levy pupils, including collections atmorning devotion service held on Wednesdays and Fridays, findings from a study on the capitation grant have revealed.
The Citizens Assessment Report on the capitation grant which was launched yesterday in Accra, mentioned other levies as utility bills, computer fees, extra classes,capital development levies and Parent Teachers Association levies.
Inspite of this, the findings had revealed positive effeccts of the scheme on a number of education outcomes at the basic school level in Ghana, including school enrolment and attendance.
The report which was launched by the chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Prof Kwesi Botchwey, showed that respondents to the survey indicated that the payment of special levies and fees led to children absenting themselves from school if they were unable to pay.
"This was the case for about nine per cent of children, whiles others are denied participation in final exams because they can not afford paying the examination fees required by the school," the report further revealed.
The research findings showed that 85 percent of all household surveyed with children in public pre-schools, indicated they paid some form of levy or fee, compared to 75 per cent in public primary schools.
On the average, GH₵47.70 was paid per child at the pre-school level, while an average of GH₵51.30 per child per year, was paid at public primary schools during the 2013-2014 academic year.
The survey was conducted in 2014 and it focused on the impact of the government's capitation grant scheme, under the implementation of the ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda 2010-2013.
A total of 2,245 households and 441 public basic schools, were sampled from 151 enumerated areas in 20 districts across the country and data was collected from Focus Group Discussions and In-depth interviews.
A Co-Invetigator of the research, Dr Clement Adamba, of the Institute of Social Statistical and Economic Research (ISSER), who presented tthe findings, said the research recommended that the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service must find a way of facilitating a more reliable and predictable release of the grant.
"It is recommended that the disbursement of the grant is done in two tranches; at the beginning and at the end of the academic year," Dr Adamba said.
Dr Adamba said respondents had argued that somee of the levies were sponsored by the PTA and that the fees levied, were used to keep the school running and also to support some children who were poor, because of the late release of the grant.
According to the findings, the release of the capitation grant was always in arrears averaging one year late.
The Co-Investigator said school authorities device "coping strategy" to address the challenges of the late release of the capitation grant, including borrowing to pre-finance, PTA sponsored levies, adding that some rural basic schools, because of the inadequacy of the grant, the school head chosen to accumulate the grants in their bank accounts before they went for it.
He said the school authorities also complained of the cumbersome procedure in accessing the grant and that the cost of accessing the grant was too much.
Dr Adamba said the survey had shown that more than 50 per cent of parents were of the view that the capitation grant has had no impact on quality of education, which stood in contrast to the 70 per cent of the head teachers who were convinced that the grant has had a generally positive impact on the quality of education.
The Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, who disclosed some of the positive outcomes of the grant since it was introduced in 2004, said Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in basic school went up in the kindergarten from 75.2 per cent in 2005/2006 academic year to 123 per cent in 2013/2014 academic year.
In primary school, GER went up from 86.4 per cent in the 2005/2006 academic year to 107 per cent in 2013/2014 academic year, while the GER in the Junior High School (JHS) increased from 74.4 per cent in 2005/2006 academic year to 882 per cent in the 2013/2014 academic year.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang said Net Enrolment Rate (NER) in the kindergarten, increased from 50 per cent in the 2005/2006 academic year to 90 per cent in the 2013/2014 academic year, while the primary school level saw an increase from 68.8 per cent in 2005/2006 academic year to 89.3 per cent in the 2013/2014 academic year and the ratio increase from 41.6 per cent in the 2005/2006 academic year in the JHS to 49.2 per cent in the 2013/2014 academic year.
She said additional funding had been made available to 75 deprived schools across the country in addition to the capitation grant under Ghana Partnership for Education Grant, adding that the base grant under which equal amount was being given out to all schools regardless of enrolment was being pilot tested and it would be evaluated to inform subsequent decision.
The minister said 1,614 schools had been completed and were being used across the country saying that had helped to reduce overcrowding in classroooms.
Prof Botchwey said the study was not conducted to recriminate school authorities but to inform policy decision adding that it would be subjected to more rigorous debate "so that we can improve the scheme."
discussant Charles aheto-Tsegah, Executive Director of National Council of Curriculum Assessment, Prof Stephen Adei, former Rector of GIMPA, Prosper Nyavor of UNESCO and Kwesi Hutchful, Adentan Municipal District Director of Education shared their further perspectives on the findings.
There were also statements from Nana Oye Lithur, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Akwasi Oppong-Ofosu, Ministerof State at the Presidency, representatives from the Ministry of Finance and UNESCO.
Disclaimer : The views expressed in this news report do not necessarily reflect those of the National Development Planning Commission