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Don’t award school contracts if it doesn’t come with furniture – EDUWATCH

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Education Policy Research and Advocacy Organisation, Africa Education Watch (EDUWATCH) has attributed the lack of desks situation in some basic schools in the county to the “declining basic education financing.”

According to EDUWATCH, what is really driving the lack of desks in basic schools in the country is the focus of the Ghana Education Trust (GET) Fund on secondary education since the inception of government’s free SHS programme.

“Since the introduction of the free SHS programme in 2017, GETFund’s focus has been on secondary education with the decline in funding of basic education infrastructure continuing to worsen the desk situation in basic schools,” EDUWATCH stated in its latest policy brief titled: “Confronting the desk deficits in Ghana’s Basic Schools.”

Eduwatch has therefore estimated that “800,000 dual desks, 150,000 KG tables and 600,000 KG chairs are urgently needed in Ghana’s basic schools. This is estimated to cost between GHS330 to 350 million, an amount equivalent to how much Ghana’s government spends on the free SHS in just six weeks.

“However, current budgetary constraints, manifested by cuts in the basic education budget and GETFund does not provide a budgetary solution in the short to medium term.”

EDUWATCH therefore proposed that, “There must be increased public and policy level awareness of the full dimensions and implications of the desk situation in Ghana’s basic schools by civil society organisations.

“The media has a key role to play in sustaining the agenda to create a compelling situation for government to act comprehensively. Occasional reporting on the lack of desks in some schools will not yield any comprehensive results.”

While, “the regular public procurement approach to providing desks will prove grossly insufficient in resolving this challenge, especially in an era where fewer resources are even available for financing basic education, an alternative lies in exploring innovative, inclusive decentralised approaches that are cost-efficient.”

It further proposed that the Ministry of Education “roll out a coordinated strategic approach, involving corporate Ghana, local governments, religious groups, traditional authorities, civil society and the Forestry Commission.

“This should culminate in a transparently managed Fund, with seed money from the government and contributions from stakeholders. A matching effort to mobilise local timber resources to produce desks at a cheaper cost at the regional level for distribution to underserved districts and schools is workable and cost-efficient.”

It added: “In the short, medium, to long term, the Ministry of Education and District Assemblies should commit to a policy of ensuring no basic school infrastructure contract is awarded without the full component of school furniture, including desks and chairs.”

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