According to the educational think tank Africa Educational Watch, there are around 2.3 million students without desks in Ghana’s public basic schools (EduWatch).
This information was provided by Africa Education Watch in a warning dated February 6, 2023.
It cited information from the Ministry of Education that showed that 1.28 million students in primary schools and about 596,000 KG students—representing half of the country’s KG population—would not have desks in their classrooms by 2021.
EduWatch noted that another 425,000 students, or 30% of JHS students, lacked writing places.
According to EduWatch, “this takes the total number of public elementary school students without desks to nearly 2.3 million.”
The Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East, Upper West, Bono East, and Oti areas, which are the most neglected in the education system, had poorer desk conditions at the elementary level, according to the Education think group.
According to EduWatch, the Northern Region has the most public primary school students without desks (213,252), followed by Upper East (118,340), Bono East, and Bono West (86,074).
According to the Education think tank, 638,008 students, or 61 percent, of public primary school students in Ghana’s seven disadvantaged districts do not have desks.
While the number of public primary school students without desks is greater than the national average of 40% in all seven areas, the North East Region leads with a maximum of 80% of primary school students without desks.
It said that the Upper East, Bono East, and Savanna areas all recorded 60% while the Northern Region came in second with 70%.
EduWatch noted that students’ learning, penmanship, and health were negatively impacted by the lack of desks since they were forced to write throughout class in awkward positions.
According to the Education think tank, a recent survey showed that roughly 24% of students in sampled schools in the Nkwanta South Municipality sat on stones to write on their laps, while 25% of students in chosen schools in the Zabzugu District lay on the floor.
According to EduWatch, Ghana’s primary schools urgently require 600,000 KG chairs, 150,000 KG tables, and 800,000 dual desks.
This is expected to cost between GH330 and GH350 million, according to EduWatch, which is comparable to how much the Ghanaian government spends on the free SHS in just six weeks.
The education think tank observed that short- to medium-term budgetary solutions were not available due to present financial restrictions, which were demonstrated by cuts to the GETFund and basic education budget.
Concerning the supposed reason for the lack of desks and chairs, the report said that it was because there wasn’t enough money for the infrastructure needed for basic education. This is shown by the fact that schools are being built without enough desks and chairs or that some communities don’t have schools or desks at all.
Eduwatch says that between 2014 and 2020, the amount of discretionary education spending that went to basic education dropped from 19.2% to 10.9%.
Ghana’s primary source of funding for educational facilities is the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund).
According to EduWatch, “GETFund spending on basic education has been steadily declining in recent years, with just 16 percent of the infrastructure expenditure budget for GETFund allotted to basic education in 2022 and secondary education receiving roughly 44 percent.”
EduWatch asserts that in order to adequately address the issue, the government must abandon its traditional approach to public procurement for desks in favor of creative, inclusive, decentralized methods that are also cost-effective.
EduWatch also asked the Ministry of Education to work with business Ghana, regional governments, cults, traditional leaders, civil society, and the Forestry Commission on a coordinated strategy.
This, it stated, should result in a transparently managed fund with contributions from stakeholders and seed funding from the government.
It also stated that a complementary effort to mobilize local resources to produce desks at a lower cost at the regional level for distribution to underserved districts and schools was also feasible and cost-effective.