Africa Education Watch, an Education Policy Think Tank, works, with governments, private sector, and civil society to achieve an equitable and accountable education system that assures quality and equal opportunities for all.
The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) is a democratic, non-partisan and progressive mass movement comprising of students in Ghana and Ghanaian Students abroad with the primary aim of protecting and safeguarding the rights and interest of Ghanaian students.
The two organizations are extremely concerned about the reported mismanagement of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund), and hereby wish to present the following observations and recommendations for consideration by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education ahead of its deliberations on the Report of the GETFund, and the approval of the formula for sharing the GETFund for the year 2020:
1. The Findings of the recent Performance Audit of the Auditor General indicate the GETFund has been awarding scholarships against the dictates of Section 2(2) (b) of the GETFund Law, which rather mandates the Scholarship Secretariat to do so with funding from the GETFund. At the centre of the mismanagement of the GETFund is the lack of a Legislative Instrument to regulate the operations of the Fund, twenty years after it’s the enactment of the GETFund Act, 2000 (Act 581), and contrary to the dictates of Section 24 of the said Act 581.
2. Over the past three years, funding from GETFund to the Students Loan Trust Fund has dwindled from GHC 25 Million in 2017 to GHC 18 million in 2019. The 2019 figure represents about 1.5 percent (1.5%) of the recommended funding of up to 10% according to Section 3(a) of the Students Loan Trust Fund Act, 2011 (Act 820). This has limited the ability of the Students Loan Trust Fund to meet its obligations to needy students.
3. Delayed release of GETFund from the Ministry of Finance affects the very essence of the Fund, especially in supporting needy students who rely on student loans managed by the Students Loan Trust Fund. By the end of 2018 only 44% of the approved GETFund allocation had been released by the Finance Ministry. Currently, about 25,000 students are yet to receive their September 2019 first semester loans, causing many needy students to defer their courses.
4. This year, an anticipated 145,000 first batch free SHS students will enroll in tertiary institutions in Ghana. Resultantly, the Students Loans Trust Fund is projecting about 100% increase in loan subscriptions, necessitating an amount of GHC 189 million to honour its obligations to about 50,000 freshmen and continuing students in the 2020/21 academic year. This notwithstanding, the Students Loan Trust Fund is heavily underfunded, causing it to limit its support to a reduced number of deserving students.
We urge the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education to consider the following recommendations in their deliberations on the 2020 Formula and advise the house accordingly, in its report:
1. It is imperative for the Minister of Education to present a roadmap within the next six months for the development of a Legislative Instrument for the GETFund, pursuant to Section 24 of the GETFund Law, and in light of the reported mismanagement.
2. The Committee should issue Clear Directives to the GETFund Board to immediately end the practice of directly awarding scholarships contrary to Section 2 (2) (b) of the GETFund Law. Pursuant, the approval of the allocation to the GETFund Secretariat must expressly specify that, all scholarship funds must be transferred to the Scholarship Secretariat.
3. The allocation for scholarships to be managed by the Scholarship Secretariat must prioritize local scholarships, to cater for the anticipated increase in demand for scholarships from the first batch of Free SHS students.
4. On loans, first, the formula must indicate clearly how much is being allocated to the SLTF; second, an allocation of the maximum 10% prescribed under section 3 (a) of the Students Loans Trust Fund Act, 2011 (Act 820) shall be required to support the student loan budget of the Students Loan Trust Fund.
5. Finally, the Committee must require of the Minister of Finance of the reasons for the perpetual delay in the release of allocated funds with the view to improving the disbursement rate, most especially for students loans and scholarships, in order to prevent the current unfortunate situation of students having to defer their courses due to lack of funds from earmarked loans.
The above recommendations would ensure no child is denied their right to tertiary education on account of funding, while providing the assurances to Ghanaians that Parliament is concerned about the mismanagement of the GETFund, hence the need to demand accountability from the executive towards putting in place the requisite legal framework for ensuring an efficiently managed GETFund.
For: Africa Education Watch For: National Union of Ghana Students
Kofi Asare, Isaac Jay Hyde,
Executive Director, President,
Africa Education Watch. National Union of Ghana Students.