Ghana, Other Western & Central African Leaders Endorse A New Roadmap To Tackle The Learning Crisis

Ghana’s Ministers of Finance and Education and their counterparts from 17 other Western and Central African countries have endorsed a new World Bank regional education strategy during a one-day meeting in Accra.

The meeting was concluded with an urgent call to advance reforms in education and deliver better access to quality education for young people across the region.

During the event, the new World Bank regional education strategy ‘From School to Jobs: A Journey for the Young People of Western and Central Africa’ was unveiled, providing a roadmap for investments to improve learning and equip young people with the right skills to access productive jobs.

The report highlighted that earmarking new tax revenues for education can help increase public spending on education, but taken alone, this action is often insufficient to increase public spending to the levels required to achieve the education SDGs.

It cited Ghana and Nigeria as among the Western and Central African (AFW) countries that have earmarked shares of specific revenue streams for education. According to the World Bank, when operating under strong governance arrangements, earmarked resources can ensure both increased funding for education and accountability.

The report indicated that Ghana allocates 2.5 percent of value-added tax collections to the Ghana Education Trust Fund to finance capital expenditures, provide scholarships and loans at the post basic level, and support professional development. However, it bemoaned the fluctuations on funds available to the Education Ministry on a yearly basis.

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“More than 95 percent of the Ministry of Education’s budget is allocated to the wage bill; accordingly, the Ministry of Education depends heavily on the Education Trust Fund for non-salary expenditures”.

World Bank

However, the World Bank noted that the Education Trust Fund is a semi-autonomous body and the Ministry of Education has a limited role in coordination and expenditure allocations.

Advancing education reforms

In a joint call for action endorsed at the meeting, the ministers and heads of delegations emphasized that advancing education reforms will require strong leadership, sound governance, better implementation, and more investments in high-impact interventions, and a whole-of-society and government approach.

Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

“We will not be able to deliver change without building and sustaining political momentum in the region. In many of the region’s countries, more efforts are needed to rationalize the governance of education systems to achieve greater coherence, cooperation, and coordination”.

 H.E. Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia

On primary education, the ministers committed to reduce Learning Poverty – the share of 10-year-olds who are unable to read and understand a short text – which affects more than 80 percent of children across the region. This is amongst the highest rates in the world.

On secondary and tertiary education, the ministers agreed to focus on the importance of increasing girls’ secondary school enrollment, improve tertiary education enrollment, especially in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and other disciplines relevant to the region’s labor markets, and monitor relevant indicators to track progress.

“Education systems across Western and central Africa are facing an unprecedented crisis exacerbated by COVID-19. Learning losses represent an alarming manifestation of the current education challenge. However, countries are committed to address it and we are mobilized to support them through financial resources and expert advice”.  

Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa

Acknowledging that the primary responsibility for implementing education reforms sits with governments, the ministers highlighted the importance of adapting the priorities of the World Bank regional education strategy to the different country contexts and translating them into real investments and actions on the ground.

The meeting was attended by ministers from 18 countries, as well as representatives from regional organizations and development partners including the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (UK FCDO), the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Source: the Vaultznews