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Funding Ghana's ‘Free’ Senior High School with Oil Revenue: Sober Reflection Required

Article 25 of Ghana’s 1992 constitution provides for equal rights to educational opportunities. The article also introduces progressively free education at the secondary level. Since 1951, Ghana has tried different policies and approaches to ensure free, compulsory, universal basic education, with varying degrees of success.

The New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) 2016 election manifesto promised to redefine basic education to include senior high school (SHS), covering vocational, agricultural and technical schools, and make it available for free for all Ghanaians. Basic education in Ghana currently includes preschool, primary and junior high school. Through the 2017 budget statement, the government has indicated its intention to use petroleum revenues to extend free basic education to the secondary level—meaning SHS. This is touted as NPP’s “Free SHS” policy. The government’s 2017 annual budget and economic policy statement proposed funding the policy from the

Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) derived from petroleum revenues starting in September. In this briefing, we aim to shed light on various options that could be considered by the government in funding “Free SHS” with petroleum revenues, with a particular emphasis on how funding for the program can be rendered sustainable going forward.