The Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) on Monday advised government to abolish terminal and promotional examination fees which, it said, most children from deprived communities were unable to afford.
The group said many of the poor children who were unable to afford the fees ranging from one to three Ghana cedis a term were prevented from writing exams on the grounds of defaulting in the payment of the fees.
Mr. Leslie Tettey, National Coordinator, GNECC and spokesperson for the group was speaking at a press conference in Accra on the Coalition's concerns regarding the policies and programmes for the education sector as per the 2009 budget.
He said even though the group recognised the usefulness of the exams fees in funding printing and stationary costs it was a potential avenue for exclusion and therefore called for its immediate abolition.
“We advise that government should make provision for exams materials through the District Assemblies education budget,” he added.
He welcomed government's intention to subsidize Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) registration fees and abolish all extra fees in basic education.
He said the provision of free uniforms was laudable and should be consciously linked with the principle of encouraging local production, income generation and employment.
He urged the government to make maximum use of locally produced cotton and fabrics as a means of promoting local industry and creating jobs for Ghanaians.
He said while they supported any policy that would lessen the burden of parents in the provision of learning materials and other school supplies, they were of the view that the policy to provide free exercise books only to pupils in public basic schools was limited and discriminatory.
“In the spirit of our constitution, which has enshrined education as a right for all Ghanaian children, the coalition is calling on government to expand the policy to include pupils in private schools as well. This would also give true meaning to the public/private sector partnership to basic education in Ghana” it said.
He said a new approach was also needed for a new era of public private partnership and that private schools should not be seen as a preserve of the rich or matter of choice but rather that of necessity in so far as government acknowledged its inability to build schools in every community in Ghana.
He applauded the government for increasing in the capitation grant from Gh 3.00 to 4.5 cedis per child per term, even though GNECC had advocated an increment of Gh 5.00 cedis.
He said the creation of a threshold for rural schools was essential in ensuring equity in the disbursement of the capitation grant as well as bridging the rural urban gap in basic education.
He however, expressed concern about the Ministry of Education's slow pace to decentralize the management of the grant and asked the Ministry to come out with a specific time-bound roadmap for the initiative and ensure greater civil society involvement.