The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, is expected to present the 2021 mid-year budget review in Parliament today, July 29, 2021.
He is expected to touch on various sectors of the economy that need to be reviewed to meet the demands of the time.
Although various sectors of the economy will be under review, the education sector will be of particular interest to many Ghanaians.
The sector has been in the news recently over some expenditures considered by critics as outrageous.
The government procured some West African Senior High School Examination (WASSCE) past questions for final-year SHS students who sat for the last examinations.
There were mixed reactions after it emerged that it cost the government some GHS 33.6 million.
The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, justified the procurement of the WASSCE past questions at that cost.
According to him, the supply of the past questions is an essential part of the government’s effort to enhance the preparation of students ahead of the WASSCE.
The education think tank, Africa Education Watch, however, thinks there could have been a more economical approach than to supply the past questions to the students on a disposable basis.
“At present, regular textbooks in Senior High Schools are used for over three years before replacement. What then is the justification for procuring over GHS 30 million worth of past questions on a disposable basis annually, when these past questions are scarcely used beyond six weeks in a year?”
Ghanaians look forward to whether or not this expenditure will be captured again in the mid-year budget.
Ghanaians will also be expecting the Finance Minister to update them on processes put in place to complete the various infrastructural projects in Senior High Schools.
It would be recalled that in the main budget presented in March 2021, the government indicated that it had completed 539 out of 1,119 infrastructural projects to accommodate the increased enrollment in the various schools.
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.
Ghanaians are also looking up to the government to absorb examination registration fees for candidates in Junior High Schools across the country, as was done in 2020.
The Caretaker Minister of Finance, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, at the time, assured that the government will absorb the registration fees for 416,066 candidates from public Junior High Schools.
Some teacher unions, namely the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) and Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT), have also been on the neck of the government for a review of their base pay.
They are dissatisfied with the announced base pay increment of 4 per cent for 2021 and 7 per cent for 2022 for public sector workers.
They are hoping for their concerns to be addressed.
School Feeding Programme
The budget is also expected to touch on the Ghana National School Feeding Programme which has come under the spotlight in recent months.
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.
Though there have been inconsistencies with the payment of the caterers resulting in the smooth operation of the programme, the Minister for Gender and Social Protection, Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, has promised to resolve all the challenges.
The Minister made the remarks when the leadership of the Ghana National School Feeding Caterers Association, called on her at the Ministry in Accra, to present a petition on some alleged unfair treatment being meted out to them.
A statement signed by Mr Felix Baidoo, the Press Secretary of the Ministry of Education indicated that the Ministry has since January 2021 released a total of GH¢316,402,165.00 to the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) and Heads of Senior High Schools for the payment of food items for the School Feeding Programme.