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National Dialogue on Sustainable Funding of “Free SHS” Policy: Opportunities and Challenges of Relying on Petroleum Revenues

22 March 2017 4:00AM GMT

  • Conference

  • Ending 12:00PM GMT

La Palm Royal Beach Hotel
No. 1 Bypass,
Labadi, 50 Accra, Ghana

This event is open to all. 

The Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC) in collaboration with NRGI and Starr FM is pleased to convene a national dialogue that focuses on finding sustainable funding options for the "Free SHS."

Ghana's government has indicated its intention to finance a portion of the “Free SHS” policy from Ghana’s petroleum revenues. This has generated public debate on Ghana’s educational system as a whole and raised concerns about sustainable funding for the policy without compromising on quality and access. The New Patriotic Party manifesto promised to redefine basic education to include SHS, covering vocational, agricultural and technical schools, and make it available and free for all Ghanaians. Currently, basic education includes preschool, primary, and junior high school. Against the backdrop of Ghana’s current challenging fiscal environment, critical questions have been raised pertaining to the implementation of the policy:
  • Can the economy in its current state accommodate the full cost of a comprehensive "free basic education" that includes public pre-school, primary, junior high school and secondary high school?
  • How will the policy affect access to and quality of education in Ghana?
  • How will the policy impact the existing education infrastructure deficit?
  • How will the policy affect teacher distribution and the quality of teaching and learning?
  • How will the policy impact the cost of "basic education" and sustainability in the short, medium and long term? What are the financing options using petroleum revenues?
  • How will the policy be rolled out and implemented?
What potential alternative financing options aside from petroleum revenues are available for sustainable implementation of the policy? Citizens have raised concerns about whether petroleum revenues are a sustainable financing option. These concerns have also sparked renewed debates on Ghana’s petroleum revenue management, particularly on how to invest petroleum receipts. The 2017 budget statement indicates a cost of 400 million Ghana cedis for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Decisions surrounding the policy need to be discussed in greater detail to arrive at a national consensus and agree on an effective implementation strategy. The discussions will also allow for public buy-in on financing options and decisions thereof.
This dialogue will be convened with the following outcome objectives:
  • Discuss sustainable options for funding the "Free SHS," outlining the potential contribution from petroleum revenues.
  • Advocate for additional information on an implementation and costing strategy, which states the government’s plan for rolling out the "Free SHS" policy and manages public expectations.
  • Discuss the current financing options for secondary education and highlight the potential impacts of this new policy on existing educational infrastructure, enrolment rates and the quality of teaching and learning.
  • Draft a policy paper at the end of the discussions to be shared with key stakeholders explaining in detail potential funding options as well as risks and opportunities that each funding option presents.
  • Generate broader conversation around the sustainable use of petroleum revenues.

8 am-8:30 am
Arrival and Registration of Participants

8:30 am-9 am
Introductions, Agenda Review
Emmanuel Kuyole; deputy director for Africa, NRGI

Welcome Address
Mr. Joseph Winful, chairman, PIAC

9 am-9:20 am
Keynote Address
Hon. Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, minister of Education, Ghana

9:20 am- 9:40 am
Session 1: The State of Ghana’s Public Finances
Presenter: NRGI

9:40 am-10:20 am
Session 2A: What is the Full Cost of Financing the "Free SHS," Including T&LMs , Teachers and Infrastructure
Director, Planning Budget Monitoring and Evaluation (PMBE), Ministry of Education (TBC)

Session 2B: How Can the "Free SHS" Policy Ensure  Quality, Access and Sustainability
Dr. Matthew Karikari Ababio, Education Consultant

10:20 am-11 am
Panel Discussion: Ghana: Implementing the Free SHS Policy Without Compromising the Quality of Basic Education
Dr. Leslie Casely Hayford, Development Consultant, Associates for Change 
Kofi Asare,  Ghana National Education Coalition Campaign (GNECC)
PBME director, Ministry of Education (TBC)

11 am-11:20am 
Coffee Break

11:20 am- 12:30 pm
Session 3: Opportunities and Challenges of Funding "Free SHS" from Petroleum Revenues
Dr. Steve Manteaw, PIAC

12:30 pm-1:30 pm  
Lunch Break

1:30pm- 2:30 pm
Panel Discussion
Ben Boakye, deputy director, Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP)
Hon. Kwaku Kwarteng, deputy minister, Ministry of Finance (TBC)
Emmanuel Kuyole, Africa deputy director, NRGI

3 pm-3:45 pm
Next steps/Way forward, Closing remarks, Departure

Accra, Ghana