The Campaign Against the Privatization and Commercialization of Education (CAPCOE) has urged the Government to continue to fully absorb the payment of salaries of staff of public tertiary institutions.
This, according to the CAPCOE, would help to maintain tertiary fees at reasonable levels, adding that it was the responsibility of the government to provide equal access to tertiary education.
The group made the call, in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tema.
It said proposals to wean-off public tertiary institutions from their payroll and provide them with a fixed amount ‘block grant’ as one of the measures to address the current economic challenges were not feasible.
The CAPCOE noted that if the policy was introduced, tertiary institutions would need to raise their revenue to pay a substantial part of their staff budget.
The CAPCOE stated that while they were aware that the proposed policy would contribute to fiscal discipline, lessons from countries that have implemented similar initiatives indicated potential outcomes.
The group said charging ‘realistic’ higher fees, increases the percentage of fee-paying students, increases the cut-offs for regular students to facilitate fee-paying students, and the reduction in access to tertiary education by the poor.
They noted that the envisioned outcomes do not only depict policy as incoherent but contradict the government’s own plan to increase Gross Tertiary Enrolment (GTER) from 18 per cent to 40 per cent by 2030, as equitable access through the removal of cost barriers were key strategies to achieve this audacious target.
The group said they had also received information on the justification being made by some members of UTAG and Vice-Chancellors that charging realistic fees is the way to go in improving quality, with examples from European countries.
The CAPCOE stressed that in such countries there was the existence of adequate safety nets for poor students through responsive student loans and meritorious, transparent, and accountable scholarships systems aimed at maintaining equity regardless of the introduction of fees.
“In the case of Ghana, the equity context for the introduction of fees is absent. Our students’ loan and scholarship systems by design are not responsive to the needs of poor students as both are disbursed towards the end of the academic year.
“Instead of arriving before the academic year when poor prospective students require funding to honour their admissions our public scholarship schemes continue to operate in opacity without any accountability or certainty of access based on merit,” it added.
They noted that in the absence of adequate safety nets to protect poor and needy students, the said policy proposal would increase the cost of and pose a major economic barrier to accessing tertiary education by the poor.
While commending the government for the effort to purge the public payroll of ghost names, they urged the Minister of Finance to take additional measures to reduce financial pressures on the education budget without necessarily transferring any part of the responsibility for tertiary salaries to tertiary institutions.
They proposed the intensification of domestic resource mobilization to shore up local revenues to finance social services provision.
CAPCOE also called for the urgent passing and implementation of the exemptions Bill with the same priority given to the e-levy, while also calling for drastic measures to be taken to minimize financial waste in the education sector by departing from the culture of single-source procurement for major procurement to ensure greater value for money.
They also asked the government to invest in an export-driven economy by promoting value addition to raw materials such as gold, cocoa, and crude oil to enhance Ghana’s foreign exchange earnings potential and reduce inflationary pressures.