A study conducted by Africa Education Watch, an educational civil society organization, has revealed that expenses on prospectuses and other items by parents outweigh the costs incurred by the government under the Free Senior High School program.
The education think tank stated that parents spent GHS 2,477 on prospectuses for their wards in boarding schools and an additional GHS 4,000 on other personal items, including 60% on provisions, 10% on transportation, 10% on books, 10% on upkeep and 10% on personal effects like toiletries, sanitary pad among others during the 2023/2023 academic year.
Mr. Divine Kpe, Senior Programs Officer at Africa Education Watch, made the presentation during a conference on education financing in Accra. The report focused on the topic “The Financial Burden of the Free SHS Policy and Implications for Equitable Access to Education.”
The cost borne by the government was analysed using Free SHS budgetary allocations and expenditures obtained from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, and Parliament for the academic years 2022/2023. The cost to parents was analysed using historical prices of prospectus items from the Ghana Statistical Service to cost prospectuses obtained from schools.
According to Africa Education Watch’s report, the prices of prospectuses increased by 38 percent, starting from an initial percentage of 36 during the initial implementation stage of the policy. Mr. Kpe stated that parents of continuing-day students reported spending an average of GH¢4,400 annually on their children’s education, including transportation (40 percent), breakfast (50 percent), and books (10 percent).
The think tank in its report also revealed that parents of day students spent GHC 5,507 inclusive of prospectus costs, outweighing the government’s spending of GHS 1,107. The report disclosed that financial constraints contributed to a 15 percent failure of candidates to honour their admission in the 2022–2023 academic year.
It attributed the failure to honour admission to the high cost of prospectuses and other education materials. To minimize the cost burden of prospectuses, the report recommended that, in the medium to long term, the Ministry of Education must develop and implement a strategy to focus on children from the poorest households using data from the LEAP program.
The report revealed that this approach would enable the government to spend more to cover the full cost of secondary education for students from low-income households.
The report recommended that the Ministry of Finance improve the disbursement of funds under the policy in line with the objectives, implementation arrangements, and cash flow projections.