Dr, Abaka gives us his reflections on another topic: Education. Focusing on the funding of education in Ghana in the 21st Century, he suggests a model that may work for financing African education in general.
Private Sector Commitment Endowments and Private Donations
Alumni in Ghana (old students) Alumni Overseas
National Educational Trust Fund Transfers of Ghanaian Experts
Export Fund Parliamentary Appropriation
Peace-Keeping Fund Education Lottery
Mining Fund - Licensing fees Royalties from Books etc.
Toll Bridge Revenue Private Cocoa Purchase
Ghanaian Communities overseas Ghanaian Churches overseas
The 21st century has usshered in a globe that is rapidly and remarkably changing. To be counted among the number when the "saints go marching in," we need to take radical steps to revamp our educational system and catch up with the front runners (even if it will not happen in our lifetime). Our educational institutions should be adapt to a changing world and should meet national and international standards. We can designate selected universities as specific targets of international competion.
Changes should come in three major areas - content of education, financing, and personnel. The content issue can be defined loosely to encompass the provision of materials for school children (books, pencils, crayons, chalk) delivered in a timely fashion to all schools on the one hand, and the business of instruction on the other. The personnel issues can broadly cover retention, remuneration, training, and benefits.
Why is it, for example, that after so many years, teachers who are given their first postings have to languish at their new stations for so many months before they receive their first salary? Why do National Service personnel face the same problem?
The other major dimension of educational reforms relate to financing. How do we finance education in a global world in which the computer is not an overgrown typewriter but an instrument of research, business, development, communication, information-sharing and dissemination, and policy development? It is the business of financing education that is the concern of this paper.
Share of Repatriated Earnings
In the twenty-first century, Ghana needs to come up with new ways of financing education. The country stands to benefit by formally regulating and helping professionals to work in other countries in return for about 2 - 5% of the repatriated earnings which will go into an Educational Fund. African professionals have worked all over the continent of Africa and abroad - looking for their jobs, struggling with travel papers etc. They have performed marvellously well on their own. Without any state support, there is very little direct benefit to the educational system that trained them.
African leaders show a remarkable propensity to employ foreign experts rather
African expertise on projects - in part the demands of international agreements, and in part the continuation of a long tradition. Gone were the days when Ghanaian judges were seconded to the bench in Gambia or in Namibia. This type of secondment was sanctioned by the state. The brain drain from Ghana is not only to Europe and North Africa, but also to other African countries. Nigeria was the destination for many Ghanaian professionals in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. Later, the exodus turned north - to Libya, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia.
Ghanaian leaders have generally been minimally interested in formal state-state transfer of professionals. In a hypothetical situation, if South Africa needs doctors, for example, the government of Ghana can enter into formal arrangements with the South Africa government and recruit doctors for South Africa for a contract period of say 1 to 3 years. These doctors will be paid 85% of their salary in their countries where they are working (assuming that 85 % will suffice for their needs). The remaining 15% will be repatriated back home to Ghana and put into their bank accounts. Out of this money, 5% for example, will go to the state for the development of education. In this case, the state handles the selection of professionals, helps with the relevant paper work, and ensures that the professionals get to their destination and back. In return, the professionals make a contribution to the state to help develop education. In short, this can be organized along the Peace Corps model - the government helps with job acquisition under a formalized program.
Private Sector Commitment
Even though graduates of Cape Coast University are trained as teachers, the financial sector in Ghana almost always snaps up all the graduates to work for them, offering better prospects and better conditions of service. In this case, the government should negotiate with the Universities and other financial-business interests to inject money into the program - to enhance efficiency and improve the training of the graduates. This format should be extended to other sectors of the economy.
The programme will benefit all parties in the following ways:
* The private sector will be assured internships when the students are in school.
* Qualified graduates will be available
* The private sector will be guaranteed tax breaks for their contribution to the education of qualified personnel.
Endowments and Private Donation
The government should, in consultation with the universities, actively promote private donations and endowment funds. Contributors will not only be given tax incentives, but will also have such endowments and scholarships named after them. In the same vein, businesses can also be approached for a similar purpose. A Komfo Anokye or Kwegyir Aggrey scholarship fund, for example, might attract interest provided that the scheme is marketed well using the state media as a forum to sell the ideas and receive feed back via the same medium.
The state of Florida currently operates a lottery which funds scholarships for needy college students. A state-sponsored lottery that is well-managed and transparent, and which keeps an open house and declares dividends every six months or one year might be a good prospect.
Revenue From UN Peace Keeping Duties
Ghana continues to be one of the leading countries in UN Peace keeping duties. From the time of General Erskine and the Ghanaian contingent with the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in the Sinai Desert to date, Ghana has participated in almost every UN operation. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, paid tribute to this during his last visit to Ghana when he opened a UN peace-keeping exhibit to commemorate Ghana's achievements in this field. The UN pays for these operations and 5% of the proceeds can be set aside for educational development.
Royalties from Books etc.
Whereas Ghanaian academics abroad can publish books and articles freely in frequently, it is an almost insurmountable task to publish books back home. University publishing houses, state publishing houses and private ones are all besieged by the same problems - aging machines, spare parts, cost of newsprint etc. While we spend large sums of scarce foreign exchange to buy books, the government should revamp the printing industry to make it easy to produce boos etc., and in return, levy a small fee on the royalties on books and other published materials (of course in consultation with the people in the business).
Toll Bridge Revenue
From the 1970s to date, the Beposo toll bridge has raked in a lot of money since it is located on a main artery of road in Ghana. The tolls are designed to help with road maintenance. I am sure that the Ghana Roads and Highways (Western Region Branch) knows how much has been collected and what it has been used for. My proposal is to establish one toll bridge in each region. The proceeds will be used to help with road rehabilitation but a small percentage will be used to finance education in that region.
Ghana derives substantial revenue from mining operations in the country. Mining companies pay taxes to the government and small-scale or local operators were require to obtain licenses in an effort to reduce the popular galamsay. An educational fund drawing on mining on the mining sector should be set up along the same lines as the Cocoa Marketing Board Scholarship Fund for children all over the country. Part of the licensing fees should be set aside for education and the mining companies (there are a number of them) can also be made to contribute to the fund. Some type of tax incentives should be built into the system to encourage the companies to contribute.
Private Cocoa Purchase
A few private companies buy second or third grade cocoa which doesn't enter the export market for the manufacture of chocolate etc. Such companies are doing brisk business buying what may be labelled "inferior" cocoa beans. An outreach to such companies should be made to attract them to contribute to an educational fund.
Ghanaian Communities Overseas
Ghanaian politicians from various parties travel overseas to solicit for funds around election time. They travel from city to city to meet with Ghanaian communities and appeal for financial support to wage the political battle. This time, a Ghanaian politician or a designated representative will wage the battle for education by meeting with Ghanaians overseas to talk about the state of education and solicit for financial support. When there is transparency, accountability and broad consultation and solicitation of ideas on the issue, help might be forthcoming from overseas.
Ghanaian Churches overseas
One of the Churches' call to mission, historically, has been the promotion of education. Some of us attained primary education because of mission schools. Now is a time to call the church back to one of historically-documented missions, especially to contribute towards education. This is not a call for a return to Mission schools. Rather, it is a call on the Church, especially Ghanaian churches overseas to contribute towards education.
Alumni (Abroad and at home)
My experience in Canada and the United States has led me to conclude that alumni play a far more disproportionate role in educational development in the U.S. than in Canada. Most institutions have newsletters or magazines targeted towards alumni. They invite them once a year to campus for celebrations. They hire some of them to work in various capacities and in fact, constitute the backbone of many private institutions in the US - Harvard, Northwestern, Miami etc,. where school fees are over $20,000.00 a year. These schools raise millions of dollars a year.
The alumni network already exists in Ghana and performs similar functions. Some Alumni overseas contribute money and equipment to help their schools from time to time. This plan is asking for a formal attempt by the state to formalise, promote awareness and boost the activities of such organisations. We should make them formal channels for fundraising for educational development and recognise their contribution as it is done here in the U.S. we use invite some of them to serve on fundrasing and other committees devoted to educational development. The visibility of very prominent alumni is very important. Gloria Estefan used to sit on the University of Miami Board of Regents. The university also finally conferred a bachelor's degree on one of its long-term students, Sylvester Stallone. One the one hand, this can be seen as shameless opportunism; on the other, it can be seen as a shrewd move. But the point is that if someone like Gloria Estefan, who is very popular and well-liked down here is leading a fund-raising drive, it is bound to be successful, given her contacts in North America and Latin America.