Special Schools ghanaEducation is the bedrock of any development process. That is why the government spends so much money to fund education from the kindergarten to the tertiary level.

But in recent times the burden of education financing has become too heavy for the government alone to shoulder.

In the past, religious bodies and business concerns invested in education, but in carrying out those endeavours, they tried to recoup their investments, putting education beyond the reach of many ordinary people.

That was why Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in the early 1960s, introduced free education at the basic level and made education free for the three northern regions from the basic to the secondary level. In subsequent years, however, government budget became overstretched, making it difficult for it to cater for the educational sector.

Today, there are more than 400 senior high schools on the government budget, scores of tertiary institutions and great number of basic schools whose teachers the government pays on a monthly basis, not to talk about textbooks and the maintenance of infrastructure.

Consequently, the government is unable to cater adequately for all the schools, thereby deepening the categorisation of schools into well endowed and less endowed.

To address the infrastructural gap, many parent-teacher associations (PTAs) have taken it upon themselves to provide for the needs of the schools. The tendency now, therefore, is for the PTAs to impose all kinds of fees on the students to fix the infrastructural gap and also use part of such levies to motivate teachers.

But the PTAs and the educational authorities, particularly the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ministry of Education, have always been on a collision course over the imposition of levies on students.

There are many well-endowed schools all over the country whose students have very rich parents who may be prepared to contribute a little bit more for the maintenance of their children?s schools.

The Daily Graphic concedes, though, that in these very well-endowed schools, there are students from very poor backgrounds who cannot pay the many levies imposed by the schools.The way forward is for the government and the boards of governors of the schools to come together to see what levies by the PTAs could be afforded by parents, so that needy, brilliant students are not denied education.

The boards of governors of these schools must begin to think outside the box to find more pragmatic ways of educational financing, but not necessarily cost recovery, which denies many children access to education.

The Daily Graphic thinks that the Ministry of Education must now give the boards a free hand to operate within the strict guidelines they have set up.

The challenge has always been the persistent interference in the running of the senior high schools by the GES and the Ministry of Education, even in cases where the boards are not breaching any regulations.

Some of the restrictions hamper the development of schools.

Daily Graphic ?Monday, 27 January 2014

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