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General News of Tuesday, 17 October 2017


FCUBE under threat as fees fly from all angles in basic schools

Public basic education, which is supposed to be free, is hardly free these days as some schools brazenly charge various fees - which stems from the paucity of the capitation grant as well as sheer insensitivity in some cases.

Unlike the free Senior High School policy, under which government outlined fees which are not to be charged by schools, there is hardly any clarity at the basic level as to what fees can or cannot be charged.

President Akufo-Addo himself spelt out in detail fee exemptions under the free SHS policy, including free tuition, textbooks, meals, library usage, admission, examination, uniforms and SRC dues.

The same cannot however be said of basic education, where government only pays GH¢4.5 per child as Capitation Grant, and does not spell out what the amount covers.

This lack of clarity has meant that basic school pupils and their parents are often inundated with all manner of fees - printing fee, ceremonial dress fee, project fee and extra classes fee, among others - throwing into question the free nature of the Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) programme as guaranteed by the constitution.

Checks made by the B&FT show, for example, that some schools charge about GH¢5 as printing fees and GH¢30 as ceremonial dress fees per pupil.

At the Pamen Presby School in the Atiwa East district of the Eastern Region, each student is levied GH¢5 as printing fee.

Also, at the Nana Kwaku Boateng Basic School in Koforidua every pupil is asked to buy the ceremonial dress as part of the school’s admission fee.

A guardian to one of the pupils at the Nana Kwaku Boateng Basic School told the B&FT that she spent GH¢150 on admission, including GH¢30 for the ceremonial dress, before her ward was admitted.

Another parent whose child is at the Trinity Presby School in Koforidua said the school charges GH¢60 every term as project-fee for the construction of a supposed classroom block, and GH¢30 per term as extra classes fee.

This defeats the capitation grant’s purpose, which is aimed at eliminating these charges and levies.

Under the capitation grant scheme, public basic education is supposed to be free and the schools are currently given GH¢4.50 per enrolled pupil per academic year. The Akufo-Addo government has said it will double the amount.

The 2014 Citizens’ Assessment Survey on the capitation grant scheme, conducted by the National Development Planning Commission, reveals that about 75 percent of households that have children in public primary schools pay levies and charges too, in spite of the capitation grant scheme.

The survey however identifies a number of key challenges that hinder effective implementation of the capitation grant scheme, including inadequate allocation of funds to the schools; delays in the release of funds; inconsistencies in the application and management procedures; and high transaction costs.