Challenging Heights is calling on the government to review the capitation grant, either to regularize fee-paying in public schools or put in measures to completely ban any form of levies on children.
The Capitation Grant was introduced in the 2003/2004 academic year to offer Free, Compulsory, Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) for all school-going children of Ghana, in fulfilment of Article 25(1)(a) of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution, which states that, “basic education shall be free, compulsory, and available to all”.
The capitation grant scheme was therefore introduced to replace all fees paid by parents in public basic schools, in order to expand access, and to support school performance improvement efforts, by the schools.
In this regard, government paid all the fees which were supposed to have been paid by the children in public basic schools.
The fees paid by the government were to cover general stationery and management, office machinery, first aid, building maintenance, sporting fees, cultural fees, sanitation fees, furniture and tools, textbook user fees, practical fees, as well as machinery for technical schools and institutions.
While commending government for increasing the capitation grant from GH¢4.5 to GH¢10 per child per term, Challenging Heights believes that the delays in the release of the funds has diminished the intended impact of the grant.
Currently government is reported to be owing basic schools in excess of GH¢315million, representing four terms in arrears.
According a research conducted by Challenging Heights, there is a worsening and deteriorating fee-paying situation in most public basic schools in Ghana.
“Challenging Heights’ research revealed that some public basic school children could be paying as high as over GH¢2,000 per academic year.
“This is far in excess of some of the fees charged at some private basic schools in Ghana, thereby making public basic education in Ghana more expensive than private schools.”
Challenging Heights’ report interviewed heads of basic schools in five out of the 16 regions, and in 25 districts within those selected regions.
The results showed that children in public basic schools are being forced to pay levies to cover desks, teachers’ motivation, admission fees, printing fees, PTA dues, development levy, ICT fees (even when there are no electricity or computers in the schools), sports fees, Dettol, toilet rolls, soap/detergents, brooms, bowls, cups, practical fees, cutlasses, hoes, dusters, plastic chairs, mats, electricity, water, security, canteen charges, special mock and midterm examinations.
Specifically, the results revealed that at the pre-school level, some parents are paying minimum GH¢459.50, and a maximum amount of GH¢1,039.49 per academic year.
At the lower primary school level, the results show that parents spend minimum GH¢302.5, and a maximum of GH¢1,319.00 per academic year.
At the upper primary school level, the results indicate that parents could be paying a minimum amount of GH¢295.8 per academic, and a maximum amount of GH¢1,224.5 per academic year of the education of their children.
The JHS level analysis revealed that parents could be paying a minimum of GH¢339.5 and a maximum of GH¢2,016.00 per academic year.
“It is understandable that when the heads of these basic schools are in financial distress, the only immediate remedy is to fall on the parents of the children, to bail them out of the situation, hence the charging of these hidden and unapproved fees and levies.
“These completely defeats the original intentions for the introduction of the capitation grant, and we therefore call on government to immediately clear all arrears owed basic schools, to enable the schools operate efficiently.
“We are also by this asking the government of Ghana to suspend the introduction of the B-STEM education. We support B-STEM education in principle. But already the Free, Compulsory, Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) is suffering financially. There is therefore no guarantee that the far more financially demanding B-STEM education can be sustained under our present circumstance.”
In 2015, the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) conducted a research that showed that public basic schools were charging fees, far in excess of what was being charged before the introduction of the capitation grant.
According to the ISSER report, some of the fees charged were examination fees, extra classes fees, PTA dues, collection (offertory), maintenance fees, sports levies, cultural levis, excursions, funeral and capital development.