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Opinions of Thursday, 2 August 2012

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

When The School Capitation Grant Delays

By Anthony Kwaku Amoah

“The Capitation Grant meant for the running of schools though inadequate to solve all the financial needs of our schools is essential. Delay in the release of the Capitation Grant thwarts the effective running of schools”-Mr. John Gyatsen, Chairman of Ga South Conference of Heads of Basic Schools (Daily Graphic of Monday, July 23, 2012, p.64).
There have been several social intervention policy initiatives in Ghana. The education sector is also a beneficiary of such interventions though schools are still in need.
The GET Fund started developing schools nationwide during the Rawlings regime. Local authorities also equipped schools with learning facilities, such as tables and chairs.
From 2001, the Kufuor-led NPP government also came out with new, improved policies and programs to make Ghana a country of difference. It vigorously pursued its agenda of making Ghana a middle-income state by 2015.
Then government also resourced the GET Fund to continue to administer quality service. Programs like the school capitation grant, school feeding, elimination of schools under trees and free metro mass ride for school children were rolled out to augment existing intervention programs.
The HIPC and MIDA initiatives also helped a huge chunk of schools. Many schools now live in ultra-modern facilities. Education authorities and stakeholders were motivated to work in unison in developing schools.
The NDC administration now under the leadership of ex-Veep John Dramani Mahama following the death of President John Evans Atta Mills on Tuesday, July 24 has also made some strides.
We are made to believe that the elimination of schools under trees, distribution of free school uniforms and exercise books and also teacher motivation are being boosted. Ministers of state and government communicators say Ghana is now better than before. I think the Ghanaian electorate should be the best judge.
Despite the beautiful interventions, school performance is still no better. The Ghana Education Service recently reported that about 64% of pupils cannot read and write, sad!
Actually, the spirit behind this article is to support the call for the ‘peanut’ capitation grant to be released early enough to schools. The implementation of this Grant started, on a pilot basis, in about 40 districts during the 2004/2005 academic year with support from the World Bank.

By 2005/2006, all public basic schools in the country were covered through government funding. The brain behind this Grant is to provide quality, affordable education to pupils, irrespective of their socio-economic, geographical and cultural backgrounds. It is to also give true meaning to the concept of Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) as a feature of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
School enrolments are considered in the disbursement of the Grant. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning releases funds to the Ministry of Education for onward payout to the Ghana Education Service (GES). The GES then distributes them to the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District directorates of education which, in turn, disburse them to the schools. These funds are expected to support sports, culture and school internal development.
Available reports show upward reviews of the Grant as academic years go by due to rising school enrolments and inflation. In 2010/2011, government said it spent about GHC23.698 million on 5,252,683 pupils; 2011/2012 also had an estimate of GHC25.37 million for about 5,598,133 pupils.
With all these expenditures, why are schools still not performing well? The July 2010 report of CDD-Ghana revealed some leakages in the disbursement of the Capitation Grant. One Kwabena Darko is on record to have said that a significant chunk of the Grant money ends up in the pockets of some school officials, senior civil servants and politicians.
Some also speculate that many school heads are just mismanaging the funds. The Afigya-Kwabre District Education Director, Mr. Ignatius Mwinbe Ere-Der had no option but to urge head teachers to prudently use the Capitation Grant on school furniture, recreation and other teaching and learning resources.
These notwithstanding, I still believe there is the need for the funds to be released to the schools as early as possible to enable head teachers and other accredited bodies, such as PTAs and SMCs effectively plan and execute school activities and programs on schedule.
I therefore support the call of the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Madam Lauretta Vivian Lamptey for government to release the Grant to schools even before new school terms begin.
It is true that government alone cannot sufficiently tackle all the challenges facing our schools. There is the need for other stakeholders, such as religious bodies, corporate institutions and NGOs to also get on board.
NB: This piece respects the present mood of the nation. We are all in grief over the sudden demise of our President. President Mills, Baba Nawo! Hede Nyuie!! Damirifa Due!!!