The former Gender Minister, Otiko Afisa Djaba on behalf of the Akufo-Addo government pledged at the 2018 UK Disability Summit to increase budget allocation for Inclusive education to 1.5percent from 2019.
This was based on the increasing demand by the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) on government to increase the budget allocation for the effective implementation of the Inclusive Education policy to 2percent of the education budget.
However, the education budget has rather dropped from 0.3percent in 2018 to 0.1percent in 2019.
Meanwhile, government, as part of efforts to address challenges facing Children with Disabilities to access quality pre-tertiary education, the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service initiated and launched the development of the Inclusive Education (IE) Policy and Minimum Standards and Guidelines in May, 2016.
As part of efforts to facilitate the effective implementation of this Policy and the Minimum Standards and Guidelines, adequate funding was required to achieve the desired goals.
This, Prof. Dr. Samuel Kweku Hayford, the Dean of the Faculty of Educational Studies, University of Education, Winneba says pose a very disturbing future for the education of children living with disability.
Speaking at a follow-up meeting with ministries and national stakeholders’ forum on Inclusive Education, he noted that the drastic reduction in the financial support to inclusive education could erode the gains achieved over the past years vis-a-vis the implementation of the policy.
“Coming from my background, I can say, we haven't done well in our effort to promote inclusive education. International bodies have recognised our policy (Inclusive Education policy) as one of the best but very little has been achieved. Can we get to that level where people will feel responsible for the lives of the marginalised group in society? But I am already disappointed with what is currently happening,” he intimated.
Prof. Hayford blames government dwindling support to inclusive on the introduction of the free SHS program.
According to him, the program has taken a chunk of the resources leaving other critical areas of education hanging with little or no funding.
“When government made that financial commitment (1.5% allocation), they did not take into consideration the new development that came thereafter. In 2016, government didn’t project bringing onboard free SHS but the new government came and introduce free SHS which taken a chunk of the funds. If it is possible, let us take a look at this free SHS again. Free is good, its monumental but must we make boarding also free. We have seen that this free SHS has created some sort of imbalances in other areas of education. So why don’t we look at other components where parents will have to bear it themselves and use that funds to support other critical areas of education, in this case, inclusive education. If we do that, government would be able to meet the 1.5percent to 2percent target otherwise we will continue to decline,” he intimated.
Prof. Hayford continued, “I will be very disappointed if we don’t see anything positive henceforth because there is no way you can sacrifice the needs of one society just to meet the needs of others. If we want to ensure equity, access and quality, we will have to take a holistic view of the education sector and one of the principles that for years we have long ignored is the education of children with special needs. Currently, we have succeeded in flaming the passion to bring the issue to the limelight and must be sustained.”
In her presentation, Debora Osei, Senior Economic Officer, Finance Ministry indicated that the 0.1percent is just the allocation that goes to Education Ministry as allocation from Finance Ministry however, there are other financial contributions from other ministries towards inclusive education that put together may exceed the 1.5percent target.
She added that even though the budget allocation to inclusive education in 2019 budget was not up to the 1.5percent target, it does not mean government is oblivious to the relevance of education for all.
According to her, one of the major policy objectives under the National Medium Term Development Framework is to “increase inclusive and equitable access to and participation in quality education at all levels.”
She stressed that government is committed to this policy and will strive to ensure that adequate resource goes into this area.