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2022 budget: A look at the education sector

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The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, is expected to deliver the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy on Wednesday, November 17, 2021.

He is expected to touch on all critical aspects of the economy that need to be reviewed to address the country’s challenges.

Education remains pivotal to the development of the country, nonetheless the sector is fraught with challenges.

Stakeholders continue to struggle to get their share of the national cake.

The plea by some teacher unions, namely the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) for a review of their base pay seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

They have for sometime now been on the neck of the government to review pay increment of 4 percent for 2021 and 7 percent for 2022 for public sector workers.

The CCT for example renewed its calls to the government to begin negotiations that will review the rates upwards to match the current economic hardship teachers are experiencing ahead of the budget presentation on November 17, 2021.

The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has been in the news for mounting pressure on the government in demand for better working conditions and implementation of a 2012 memorandum, which pegged their salaries at US$1500 to US$2000.

They had been on strike since the beginning of August 2021, and resumed only after negotiations with the government.

The 2012 Single Spine package put entry-level lecturers on a salary of $2,084 while the current level puts lecturers’ salaries around $900.

The strike by UTAG severely affected academic and some non-academic work at the various tertiary campuses.

They have threatened to resume the strike if government does not fulfil its part of the bargain.

Members of TUTAG also began a nationwide strike on June 14, 2021, to demand the payment of their 2018/2019 Research arrears, negotiation of their conditions of service, among other issues.

The association however announced the suspension of the strike on Saturday, June 19, 2021, after receiving a favourable response from the Minister of Education, Osei Yaw Adutwum.

According to TUTAG, besides the assurances of the Education Minister, it has also secured two important documents that would facilitate the resolution of its demands.

The 2022 budget is expected to capture and resolve the demands of these teacher unions to save students from further disruption in the academic calendar, especially after the impact COVID-19 already had.

Abandoned school projects
Another topical issue in the past months has been about abandoned school projects.

Members of the Minority on the Education Committee visited uncompleted E-block sites in Oborpah, Sekesua and Apesua in the Volta and Eastern Regions.

Out of the three project sites visited, only one was completed in Apesua in the Yilo Krobo municipality, but that has not been operationalised.

The Minority said it will continue to pile pressure on the government to complete abandoned E-block projects across the country.

Former president Mahama who spearheaded the E-block projects condemned the decision by the Akufo-Addo government to stop paying for ongoing projects and open completed projects for use.

While some are completed and abandoned, contractors working on other projects including the day schools, health facilities, and have been compelled to abandon their sites.

Members of the Minority caucus on the Education Committee of Parliament had earlier resolved to haul the Minister of Education to the floor of the House to answer critical questions on the state of uncompleted E-block projects.

This was after the Minister for Education, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum disclosed in Parliament that 46 out of the 200 facilities had been completed fully.

With the government’s commitment to ending the double-track system in the next three years by facilitating infrastructural projects in the various schools, it is expected that some more provisions will be made for such projects in the 2022 budget.

School feeding programme
The programme, whose implementation started in 2005, is an initiative under the comprehensive Agricultural Development Programme, Pillar 3, to enhance food security and reduce hunger in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on hunger, poverty and malnutrition.

Currently, over 3,000,000 pupils in about 10,000 schools in all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), are benefiting from the School Feeding Programme, which significantly reduced the incidence of malnutrition, which is the cause of high vulnerability of children to disease and intellectual malfunction.

Some aggrieved caterers working under the Ghana School Feeding Programme have threatened to stop cooking for students if the government fails to increase the feeding grant to three cedis per head.

The caterers say the GHS1.00 allocated to children under the programme is woefully inadequate and unfair.

The women, who are part of a group calling itself ‘Touch one Touch all’ Caterers Association, say they’re disappointed in the Ministry for Gender, Children and Social Protection for failing to address their concerns.

The 2022 budget might perhaps capture the concerns of stakeholders to sustain the programme.

Credit:Citinewsroom.com

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