Textbook work: Ghanaian schools get their books when parents monitor education budgets

In 2009, Ghana had 900,000 children not enrolled in primary school. 2,000 classrooms were missing despite education being a key priority for the country.

The government provides US $2.25 per student per year through the Capitation Grant Program (CGP), which was established in 2005 to increase primary enrolment and to abolish school fees. The money is given directly to schools by the Ghana Education Systems Municipality Offices in proportion to the number of enrolled students. This small but vital budget is the main financing source for most schools to pay for textbooks, teacher salaries, water and sanitation and basic equipment.

A 2010 study by the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition revealed that 29% of budgeted English textbooks and 16% of science textbooks disappeared before reaching the students.

To tackle this problem, the Ghanaian civil society organisation Action for Rural Education (ARE) mobilised local communities to monitor school financing and textbook distribution systems. They launched a program to empower Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and the School Management Committees (SMCs), which had the legal authority to manage these funds.

ARE selected 10 schools and conducted training workshops in communities. Committee members were trained on how to monitor the flow of funds, how to participate in school budget planning and monitor spending, and on how to monitor text book distribution.

As a result of these efforts, weekly visits are paid to schools to monitor if the agreed plans are followed. The rate of school book delivery in the 10 monitored schools reached 99.96% and one corruption case was discovered, investigated and resolved. The transparent school budget process renewed community confidence in the school resource management and encouraged parents to engage in the running of the local school.

Key Lessons:

  • Civil society can help local community bodies understand their roles and responsibilities for school budget management.
  • Local communities and parents should participate in school budget planning and monitoring to ensure good management of local budget allocation.
  • Access to government school budget allocations allows local communities to monitor education spending.

Website: http://www.areghana.org

Photo credit: DFID – UK Department for International Development

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