By Alfred K Dogbey
Government, through the Ministry of Education (MoE), has gotten a US$156 million for the implementation of the much-anticipated special educational project, promised by the government towards the improvement and accessibility of secondary education across the country.
The project, which is expected to benefit about 30,000 new students in secondary, 150,000 students in low performing schools, 2000 Senior High School (SHS) teachers, head teachers and others involved in education.
The money, will also increase access to senior secondary education in underdeveloped districts and improve quality in low-performing SHSs in the country.
The use of the US$156 million, will also see the construction of 23 New Community Day SHSs.
This was announced at a news conference in Accra on Wednesday and addressed by the Education Minister, Prof. Nana Opoku Agyemang, shortly after Parliament approved the loan.
Flanked by her two deputies, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa and Alex Kyeremeh, the Minister explained that “the proposed project would support the Government’s Community Day Senior High School program through two components: support to increase access with equity and quality in senior
high schools and management, research and monitoring and evaluation”.
Part of the project which is the sponsorship package, will be used to support vulnerable students like those living with HIV/AIDS, disable students without support and orphans without support and students whose parents or guardians are living with a disability or serious illness, teenage mothers without support and willing to go back to school, a student with sickle cell disease among others.
The Education Minister, noted that, there was value-for-money in the entire proposal, adding that the project would be implemented in a manner that would ensure that Ghanaians get quality improvement in the educational system in the country.
Below is the details what the Minister said;
Component 1: Support to Increase Access with Equity and Quality in Senior High Schools (Total costs including contingencies: US$140.1 million). This component uses a Results based financing (RBF) modality. Disbursements up to a capped absolute amount will be made against specific line items in the Education sector annual budget, referred to as eligible expenditure programs (EEPs). These disbursements will be conditioned on achievement of specified results, as measured by disbursement-linked indicators (DLIs).
Policies and interventions to be supported are grouped into two pillars: (i) increasing access with equity (geographic, gender, poverty, etc.); and (ii) improving quality of selected low performing SHS.
The objective of pillar one is to improve access to senior high school education in underserved districts in the country by:
(a) The construction of 23 new senior high schools in selected districts, expected to enroll 15,000 students;
b) improving 50 existing senior high schools through expansion and rehabilitation of existing structures and facilities, expected to enroll an additional 10,000 students; and
(c) Providing scholarships to 10,400 students from low income families, especially girls.
Pillar 2: Improve the quality of education in selected low-performing Senior High Schools (Total costs including contingencies: US$15 million): The objective of this pillar is to improve the quality of SHS, with a focus on mathematics and science education in selected low-performing schools”.
The SEIP would also strengthen school management, leadership and expansion of ICT in the 125 selected low-performing schools. In order to improve quality, the Project will support the Government’s program to: (i) strengthen school management, leadership and accountability; (ii) target interventions to improve the quality of science and mathematics education; and (iii) introduce School Performance Partnerships (SPPs) based on School Performance Partnership Plans (SPPPs) to capture quality improvements.
The SPPs would develop mutual accountability between school management and the District Education Oversight Committee (DEOC) to improve learning performance with the commitment from government agencies to provide the necessary resources and the responsibility of schools to implement quality improvement activities with verifiable outcomes.
In addition to school-based quality inputs, training and financing, this pillar will support the systematic collection and publication of school data for stakeholders to make informed decisions about SHS selection, and for MOE/GES to make informed decisions about planning and financing SHS.
Component 2: Management, Research and Monitoring and Evaluation (Total costs including contingencies: US$15.9 million): This component aims to strengthen the implementation capacity of the MOE and GES and its related implementing agencies and assist them to achieve the objectives of the Government’s SHS strategy.
This component will support monitoring and evaluation (M&E), coordination, planning, communication, financial management, procurement, and safeguards.
In addition it will support an active and evolving research agenda to continue to inform Government SHS policy, particularly with regard to financing, social targeting, quality initiatives, teacher rationalization and curriculum relevance (Costing breakdown attached as Annex ll)
Selection criteria for facilities and quality improvement
A ranking of all the districts using the following variables: District size in terms of population of 15-17 year olds; District effective demand for SHS using JH3 enrolment by districts; District poverty indices.
Select bottom eighty (80) districts: Rank all schools in those districts by WASSCE performance; Select bottom 50 schools for facilities and quality improvements; Select bottom 125 schools (in same order) for quality improvements.
Scholarship Beneficiaries: 10,400 students over the 3 year SHS programme. Selection through an independent Scholarship Administrator using the criteria agreed upon by relevant stakeholders (at the community and district level) shall place emphasis on girls and students from low income families. Using a means-testing approach designed with lessons from other scholarship schemes.
Who qualifies for the scholarship?
Any student who takes care of herself/ himself, a disabled student without support, an orphan without support, a student living with HIV/AIDS, a student from a LEAP beneficiary household, a student in a household with income below the minimum wage (Daily Minimum Wage= GHȻ5.24 in 2013), a student from a single parent family with low income),
Others are; a student whose parents or guardians are living with a disability or serious illness, a student from a large household unable to afford to send all children to school, a teenage mother without support and willing to go back to school, a student with sickle cell disease, a student, whose parents or guardians are all unemployed, (must be seeking employment), Other students may be considered depending on availability of the funds [By independent verification].
What will the scholarship cover?
The scholarship package is expected to benefit 10,400 students for three years, with a budget of $500 per year. The items under the scholarship are still being developed, and could be used to pay for the following where necessary; School fees, Exam fees, Transport to school, Uniforms, house dress and PE kits, School shoes, School bag, Sanitary pads, Exercise books and note books as well as relevant stationery items.