Education International (EI), together with its member organisations in Ghana, hosted a workshop at Mensvic Hotel in Accra on the 21st June 2023 to discuss education financing. EI member organizations from Senegal and Zambia involved in the Tax and Education (TaxEd) Alliance project joined their counterparts from Ghana and Nigeria involved in the Global Response to Privatisation and Commercialisation of and in Education campaign. The two initiatives converged to strengthen the EI ‘Go Public! Fund Education’ campaign which was launched on the 24th January 2023.
The workshop, which drew over 40 attendees, focused on reviewing African governments' commitments to education. These commitments as cited by the EI Africa Director, Dr Sinyolo Dennis, included “ensuring inclusive, equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all” as stated in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)4.
He also referred to the global commitments on teachers as stated in SDG target 4.C) which requires a substantial increase in the number of qualified teachers and the Incheon Declaration and Education 2030 Framework for Action, which commits to ensuring that teachers and educators “are empowered, adequately recruited, well-trained, professionally qualified, motivated, and supported within well-resourced, efficient, and effectively governed. African governments also made regional commitments through the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA), he added.
Sinyolo explained that progress towards achieving these commitments has been impeded by inadequate investment in education, teacher shortages, and a lack of infrastructure, teaching, and learning resources. In light of these bottlenecks, he revealed that governments are not investing enough money in education and teachers. On average African countries invest 3.8 % of GDP in education instead of 6% and countries like Ghana and Zambia have invested 12.9 % and 13.9 % respectively instead of the minimum education financing benchmarks of 20% of the national budget.
It is against that background that the ‘Go Public! Fund Education Campaign was launched to put pressure on governments to mobilise more funding for public education with the teachers and education workers driving it. The unions and governments should push for not only a fair share of the education budget but also be mindful of the size of the budget to ensure that the governments realized bigger budgets.
This call for the need to improve revenue collection, Nii Addo, of the Tax Justice Network, demonstrated in his presentation on Leveraging more education financing through fair and progressive taxation that government must close tax loopholes like tax holidays/exemptions, tax evasion, and tax avoidance to make more money available for education. “Governments must also fight corruption if they are to get more financing for education”, he emphasised.
Kofi Asare of Africa Education Watch presented on the implications of governments borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on education. He highlighted that borrowing from IMF can affect education because the loans are accompanied by conditionalities which can massively influence the financing dedicated to education and teachers. He advised countries not to pursue austerity policies, cutting public spending on very vital aspects of education. A presentation by Dr Pedi Anawi further revealed that wage bill caps imposed by IMF and the World Bank had a negative impact on education, performance, and welfare of teachers and education workers.
At the end of the workshop, participants agreed on the EI Africa statement on Education Financing for the Public event the following day available here.