A Government-Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) meeting on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Financing has underscored the need for domestic financing and efficiency in the sector to contribute to the Ghana TVET Reform Agenda.
The meeting on TVET financing and Reform was organized by FOSDA in collaboration with Africa Education Watch following advocacy engagements on two (2) Policy Briefs titled “Policy Paths for Sustainable Financing of TVET in Ghana” by the former and “Ghana Free TVET Report” by the latter. The event brought together CSOs in Education, Youth Development, Energy Policy, Media, Youth Associations and Government Ministries and Agencies with support from OXFAM.
In a welcome note Programs Manager of FOSDA, Theodora Williams Anti noted that Government, in recent years is making substantial efforts to reform TVET in Ghana. “These are not limited to the various initiatives including upgrade of polytechnics into Technical Universities, introduction of the competency-based training to standardize the system and construction of state-of-the-art facilities” She added that recent developments in the education sector saw the merger of COTVET and NABTEX to form the Commission on TVET to respond better to the sustainable development challenge under the Education Regulatory Act and the free TVET.
Mrs Anti noted that the issue of funding still remains a major challenge for the sector, especially in the face of the reforms that were being implemented by government and so it was necessary for CSOs meet with relevant Government institutions to share key recommendations and actions needed to strengthen ongoing reformation processes for sustainable financing of the sector.
The need for funding for the sector has become clear following research by the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) and Africa Education Watch who are into Youth Development and Education Research and Advocacy Respectively.
Mr Kofi Asare of Africa Education Watch, indicated that TVET underfunding from the education financing gap of 25% has clearly reflected in the number of Technical Vocational Institutes that is provided since 2014 which has increased from only 45 to 47 under Ghana Education Service. These challenges have dovetailed to affect accessibility and quality. Other myriad of financing issues is the over-reliance on the loans and grants for the Skills Development Fund (SDF); low spending efficiency in the education sector which when corrected could release monies for TVET; and inequitable allocation formula for Technical Universities versus Public Universities among others.
Mr Asare recommended that to improve the TVET sector, increasing budgetary allocation and reducing dependency on loans should be paramount; prioritize spending efficiency; Increase transparency; provide learning grants to TVET students in Technical Universities and establish domestic feeders to sustain Skills Development Fund (SDF) are potential areas of focus.
A presentation by FOSDA noted that by 2031 a total of 612,000 unemployed graduates will add-on to the Ghana’s unemployment rate of 12% if nothing is done about reducing the unemployment situation. Programs Officer of FOSDA added that even though TVET has been acknowledged by duty bearers as a key factor in reducing unemployment by providing skills for self-employment, very little is been done in the policy space to sustainably provide funding for TVET education.
The presentation that focused on the “Policy Paths for Sustainable Financing of TVET” noted that between 2011-2018 the highest spending in the TVET sub-sector was 5.31% in 2016 and lowest of 1.3% in 2018 of the total education expenditures. The spending in the sector has average 2.86% from GHc 3.5 billion in 2011 to almost GHc13 billion in 2018. This constitutes one of the lowest.
While acknowledging the need for efficiency in the overall education sector, FOSDA proposed the opportunities of using domestic tax revenues such as the Communication Service Tax (CST) and temporal revenues from natural resources under the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) as domestic feeders to sustain the Skills Development Fund (SDF).
The representative of the Commission on TVET, Hannah Otchere noted that given that there is constant change and upgrade of technology, there is the need to make sure that TVET is adequately funded so as to deliver appropriately by providing the right environment and competence. This she argued is due to the risk of obsolescent technological character.
In a plenary, participants made key recommendations for TVET reform in Ghana. These recommendations were not limited to;
• Efficiency of funding in the education sector
• Government ownership of funding
• Legal backing for the Skills Development Fund
• Advocacy for more education funding to TVET
• Using costed plan for CSO advocacy
• Standardization/certification for AfCFTA
The meeting is a common platform for Government and CSOs to share, discuss and identify possible sources of funding for TVET and roadmap for addressing prevailing challenges of the sector. It also seeks to strengthen government and CSOs collaboration and partnership toward reforming the TVET sector.