By Frederick E. Aggrey
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Minority Ranking Member on Education and Foreign Affairs, has called on the government to stop what he called “assaulting the GETFund”, since it is the only reliable source of funding education in Ghana now.
The North Tongu Member of Parliament (MP) indicated that the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) plays a strategic role in our education system, without which education would grind to a halt.
Among other things, the GETFund supports the provision of textbooks, infrastructure and teaching and learning materials, the MP said in support of the motion for the adoption and approval of the Committee of the whole report on the proposed formula for the distribution of the GETFund for the year 2018.
What is even more worrying, is the fact that, now, the GETFund has stopped playing its supplementary and complementary roles, and rather assuming full-funding for almost all educational financial responsibilities, the former Deputy Education Minister in charge of Tertiary Education argued.
He underlined that a critical look at the fund’s budget points out that about 96% of it goes to emoluments, with very little going to capital expenditure.
Going into the report that was laid, the MP indicated that per the report, GH¢790,224,149 was approved for the fund for the 2017 fiscal year by the House but was reduced to GH¢644,265,000 by the Ministry of Finance, after the mid-year Budget Review.
And the reduction adversely affected the implementation of planned projects and programmes of the fund, the MP described.
He went on to bemoan the fact that there has been no allocation for the completion of uncompleted existing projects, but some amounts have, however, been allocated for new ones, which is a worrying trend, since the free Senior High School (SHS) needs infrastructure to be successful.
In a related development, the MP for Efutu Constituency, Afenyo Martkins, called on the executive arm of the government to present a bill for a new source of funding for the government’s free SHS.Okudzeto Ablakwa
This, he argued, would guarantee the success of the free programme, adding that the current sources of funding do not guarantee its sustainability.
He debated that the GETFund “is taking care of other needs of our schools, and the educational sector as a whole, hence the need to have a dedicated source of funding for the free SHS.
“The fund is mainly for infrastructural expansion, and Ghanaians will not have the patience for the Minister for Education, especially when there are barely no expansions of educational facilities for our students at the SHS.
“What need currently, is a dedicated fund which will not be subject to the discretion of the Minister for Finance in the release of funds, but rather one that will be able to fund the free SHS, with a running governing body.”
The Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, on his part, indicated that the law is explicit on where the GETFund should get its source of money from, and that there is no excuse for the government or anybody to complain of lack of money.
Section 3 of Article 581 of the Ghana Education Trust Fund provides that monetary sources for the fund will be two and half percent of the Value Added Tax, he said, thus, advising the government to be committed to honouring the law.
Haruna Iddrisu added that GETFund has a mandate established under Act 581 of the law, and on that premise, he advised that monies meant for the fund should not go to the Ministry of Finance.
“All monies for the fund should directly go into it,” he said.
Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Education Minister
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