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24.03.2009 General News

Essential Service wants GETFUND probed

By Charles Takyi-Baodu - Ghanaian Chronicle

A Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) is leading the crusade for thorough investigations into the activities and operations of the management of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND), which has been riddled with multiple allegations of financial impropriety.

The NGO, The Essential Services Platform has, therefore, asked the Mills administration to as a matter of urgency institute investigations into the books of the GETFUND to uncover the rot at the Secretariat.

Under the current circumstance, it noted that contractors with outstanding projects are not being paid because of the lack of funds and, therefore, called on government to put in place structures to make management of the fund more transparent, accountable and efficient. This was contained in a statement signed by Ruby Kissiedu on behalf of the organisation.

Given that inflation is about 20% and the fact that the 2009 budget has allocated GH¢275 million to the GETFUND as compared to GH¢ 204 million in the year 2008 (about 26% increase), it noted that actual increase in the allocation for the fund is rather small.

Under current educational reforms (2007-2008), kindergarten education has become part of compulsory basic education.However, as at 2007-2008, there were nearly 2,000 primary schools without kindergartens.

The group has thus expressed the hope that this lapse will be remedied and teachers trained for the kindergarten level, stressing “it is also hoped that the NDC will implement its manifesto promise of instituting one training facility for kindergarten teachers in each region.”

The statement commended government for increasing the Capitation Grant to GH¢4.50 (a 50% increase), but emphasised that if taken into consideration the growing inflation rate of over 20%, the 50% increase is nothing to write home about.

“It is, therefore, not clear whether the same deductions for sports and culture, amounting to about 30% of the grant and withheld at the district level will be made”, it asked rhetorically, stressing the need for pupils with disabilities to be granted additional funds, giving their difficult circumstance.”

The ESP believes that under the circumstance, the criterion of a threshold for rural school would be essential in ensuring equity in the disbursement of the grant, and therefore, called for the stringent and transparent implementation of this grant by the appropriate authorities in order for beneficiaries benefit from it.

Also, the group expressed hope that the new administration will maintain the practice whereby the Capitation Grant is only available to public schools, cautioning that “Under no circumstance should private schools benefit from the Capitation Grant.”

The statement also lauded government for its pledge to provide free uniforms to one million pupils from September 2009 at a cost of GH¢ 7.00 each in the most deprived areas and the provision of free exercise books.

In order to keep good hygiene, it emphasised the need for the uniform to be two sets for each student, stressing that it may be better to institute these interventions on a pilot basis for at least the first year, and then reduce the number of pupils who qualify so that only the most deprived can be given at least two sets of uniforms and the required number of books.

It also recommended to government to consider giving teachers more incentives to make their work attractive. It proposed “An allowance of at least 20% of basic salary could be offered to those who go to the deprived areas.” Considering the circumstance under which most schools in the country find themselves, the NGO also asked government to pay attention to maintaining school buildings all over the country since many of them are decrepit, have cracks, leaking roofs and lack basic facilities such as water and toilets.

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