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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Donor Participation in the Education Sector in Ghana


A report prepared by Rojo Mettle-Nunoo &

        Louise Hilditch


January 2000

Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo has worked as a lecturer and Research Fellow in KNUST and the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon.  He has a wide portfolio working in different capacities: National Co-ordinator of the Adult Functional Literacy Campaign Programme, Co-ordinator of Programme of Actions to Mitigate the Social Cost of Adjustment (PAMSCAD), Director General of the Projects Management Unit, Ministry of Education and Special Assistant to the Minister of Education for the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education Programme (FCUBE).  He is currently on the Presidential Staff in the Office of the President of Ghana.

Louise Hilditch is ActionAid’s European Union Policy Adviser. She has been based in Brussels since 1993 as a political and policy adviser for a range of public and private sector organisations.   


After almost thirty years of independence and a fast population growth rate, the quality of education in terms of learning outcomes has not kept pace with the level of public investment in Ghana. The critical challenges to the education sector relate to increasing access, improving teaching and learning outcomes, the supervision and management of schools, financial decentralisation and the sustainability of the reforms.

Ghana needs to create:

·         An educational system that takes account of all stakeholders in the policy making and strategic planning process.

·         An enabling environment for the poor and vulnerable through the provision of second-chance literacy opportunities as they directly and indirectly impinge on poverty.

·         Opportunities for fair and equitable access to all persons in addition to working consciously towards removing bottlenecks and inequalities that create injustice and denial of rights and the potential of all.

This study reviews the Ghanaian situation with particular emphasis on:

·         donor support to the education sector;

·         the level of Ghanaian participation in education policy, planning and implementation.

The study identifies a number of constraints to effective aid provision as well as some positive trends. For example, at the level of community participation, government policies do seek to shift ownership and initiative to the schools and communities while gender, poverty and access concerns have been identified as critical issues that the Government is committed to addressing.

The constraints to effective aid provision that emerge in the study relate to the widely differing aid policies among development partners (donors) and the fact that their aid is not sufficiently co-ordinated. For example, in one year, as many as 54 donor missions were received by the Ministry of Education (MoE).  These missions lasted a minimum of 4 working days, often requiring meetings with the same target groups. This left senior managers with little or no time to manage their work.

The study finds that in spite of greater co-operation in recent times and a willingness on the part of donors to buy into a Government led programme, international and foreign policy concerns as well as aid conditions, continue to direct donor assistance.

The long-term effects of fragmented project management result in low disbursement of funds, delayed implementation, extended project implementation and inefficient procurement scheduling. Indeed, in spite of the rhetoric that large volumes of external funds are committed to targeting the poor in the education sector, the resulting portfolio performance seems to suggest that a lot more could be achieved if funding partners worked more closely as partners with a common programme management approach. The move towards a sector wide approach to support in the education sector is likely to encounter difficulties unless greater co-ordination of donor activity can be assured since donors' budgetary related conditionalities create distortions in financing sector wide education reform processes.

The EU's three Cs (Coherence, Complementarity and Coordination) to which EU Member States and the European Commission are committed, need to be respected and actively promoted by the Commission. It bodes ill for the Commission’s role in co-ordinating EU aid that the only MoE official aware of its work in the education sector (despite a not inconsiderable investment) is the Budget Director.

There is also a need for the Government of Ghana (GoG) and the MoE to make a series of changes to the way in which they operate in the sector. The MoE needs to provide strategic leadership to deepen the benefits of collaboration with development partners. This process of developing credible partnerships will help minimise duplication, streamline procurement and disbursement and build a network of technical assistance where donors buy into programmes of the respective countries as against placing name tags on projects supported by donors. By promoting joint policy and strategic planning with external funding agencies, aid conditionalities could be harmonised leading to more timely disbursement and financial sustainability of programmes.

In the area of decentralisation the study finds that greater efforts are necessary on the part of local government bodies and the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the Districts and schools own their programmes and budgets within guidelines that achieve policy goals and objectives. At the same time, aid partners should decentralise financial authority to field offices.

The failings identified in the study highlight shortcomings in the MoE, the GES and in the way in which donors engaged in providing aid to Ghana’s education sector operate to the extent that donors’ own operating procedures and priorities can exacerbate existing problems and create new ones. Only by tackling all of these shortcomings will the GoG achieve its goal of universal basic education for all by 2005.



This report reviews donor policy in the education sector in Ghana since 1987 with particular emphasis on donor attitudes and practice in relation to participation in education sector reform and management.  It also provides a framework for developing alternative approaches to ensuring participation in education at all levels of policy making, planning and implementation.

The policies and practices of the European Commission are the principal focus.  However, the practices of other major development partners (UK, France, Germany and the World Bank) in Ghana are also examined. The report examines donor and GoG concepts of targeting and involving poor people and organisations representing their interest in implementing support programmes.


The report examines the following concerns:

1.     How does donor activity impact on the poor and to what extent does it enable pro-poor organisations to set their own agenda in education?

2.     Does aid to education systematically benefit the poor?

3.     Are poor people involved in the design of all projects and programmes? 

4.     Who sets conditionalities and determines the allocation of education aid budgets?

5.     Are stakeholders like parents, students, teachers, unreached learners and women listened to or consulted?

6.     What best practices or innovative approaches to participation exist in areas of budgeting, curriculum development etc.?

7.     Do education partners evaluate the effectiveness of participation of the poor groups representing their interest at all levels?

8.     What are the constraints to genuine participation?

9.     Is donor aid to education poverty focused?



The Ministry of Education’s (MoE) mission is to provide relevant education to all Ghanaians at all levels irrespective of gender, tribe, religious and political affiliations.

The MoE provides the following services:

·         Basic education for all through the free compulsory universal basic education (fCUBE) programme

·         Education and training for skill development with an emphasis on science, technology and creativity

·         Tertiary education for the development of middle and top level manpower requirements

·         Non Formal Education facilities to ensure that all citizens are functionally literate and self reliant

·         Post secondary Technical and Vocational training

In providing these services the MoE is guided by the following values:

·         Quality education

·         Efficient management of resources

·         Accountability and transparency

·         Private sector participation

The 1961 Constitution of Ghana (amended in 1981) makes a general provision relating to the public system of basic education.  In the provision, the Constitution endorses that any child of six years of age, for a period of nine years must be provided with free education. The 1992 Constitution makes the provision of infrastructure the responsibility of the Local Government Authority (District Assemblies).

In 1986 the Government initiated a major education sector reform programme on a 2-6-3-3-4 system of education. Pre-school education lasts for two years. Nine years of basic education is made up of six years of primary education and three years of junior secondary school (JSS) education. At tertiary level, the Government offers four years of university education and two years of diploma related course options at the polytechnics, teacher training colleges and diploma awarding institutions. Post secondary, technical and vocational education is offered as a transitional option after junior secondary and during senior secondary education levels. It should be noted however that most children who complete primary education do not go on to further study. The three-year Senior Secondary School (SSS) programme has not expanded to address the large numbers of basic education graduates. In 1991 a National Functional Literacy Skills Programme was launched for adults with a special focus on empowering women, the poor and vulnerable.

Ghana’s participation in and endorsement of international agreements such as Education for All, the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, the Beijing Declaration on Women’s Rights, the Lome Convention, etc., have meant that Government commitment and constitutional obligations guide policy and influence official bilateral and multilateral negotiations.

The current goal of the GoG is to achieve universal basic education for all by the year 2005. To this end, the Government is committed to:

·         providing nine years of quality schooling for all Ghanaian children by 2005, making schools from Basic Stage 1 through 9 free and compulsory for all school-age children. This commitment also aims at improving the quality of educational services, learning achievement and participation of all stakeholders at national and district/ community levels to enhance ownership and sustainability of the programme.

·         increasing net primary enrolment from 2.31 million to 2.99 million over the five-year period.

·         increasing net junior secondary enrolment from 0.79 million to 1.02 million.

·         improving functional literacy skills by 3%-5% per annum.

The MoE's annual average expenditure per pupil (which is not recoupable from parents or guardians) is ˘105,000.00 (40.86 euro)[2] at primary level and ˘141,278 (54.97 euro) at the junior secondary school level. During the initial stages of the Educational Reform Programme, the MoE introduced a cost recovery scheme under the Education Sector Adjustment Credit (EdSac) through a textbook user fee of ˘150  (0.06 euro) per pupil per year.  This was later raised to ˘250 (0.10 euro) for Primary Three through to Junior Secondary School stages.  In 1991 when the cost recovery scheme was implemented absolute enrolments dropped by 3.5% for the first time in a decade.  In 1995, on account of falling enrolments, the textbook fees were abolished for primary education. Given the huge population of school going children presently, the constitutional requirement of Free Basic Education puts considerable strain on the Education Sector budget.


The main partners and sources of funding of education in Ghana are:

1.     The GoG

2.     Development Partners (International and National agencies, NGOs and funding agencies)

3.     District Assemblies

4.     Local Communities

5.     Parents, guardians

6.     The private sector

7.     Religious institutions

GoG’s Ghana Vision 2020 policy document makes a financial commitment of approximately 40% of GDP to the development of education. Development Partners (international and national agencies, NGOs and funding agencies) working in close collaboration with Government and District Assemblies have also committed substantial resources to the GoG since 1986 when the education reforms were launched (see appendix 4).

In spite of substantial and accelerated progress in the reforms, the huge numbers of actors and the systemic and management capacity constraints require that all stakeholders support the almost recurrent annual agenda. Even though the GoG remains the biggest and most reliable source of funding of basic education, the current financing gaps have implications for prioritising and targeting increased financing in terms of inputs and infrastructure, improving the quality of teaching and supervision while guaranteeing acceptance of learning outcomes at basic education level on a sustainable basis.


Weaknesses identified in the present education delivery system led the GoG to restructure the MoE and the Ghana Education Service (GES) with the aims of achieving greater organisational efficiency and increased co-ordination of development partner activity. Some of the weaknesses that have been identified include:

·         Insufficient institutional ownership of programmes,

·         Weak strategic leadership in co-ordination of programmes,

·         Difficulties in mainstreaming and expanding to other districts good practices from piloted donor supported programmes,

·         Lack of institutional capacity to financially decentralise programmes,

·         Low teacher motivation and reluctance of teachers to accept postings to difficult urban and rural communities,

·         High school dropout rates in the rural areas and especially of the girl child, 

·         Low learning outcomes in public schools,

·         Absence of clearly articulated curriculum and textbook production policy to motivate private publishing industry,

·         Insufficient senior secondary school and tertiary level infrastructure and teachers to increase access at post basic education levels.

At the policy planning and donor co-ordination level four divisions and units under the MoE were specifically identified for restructuring:

·         The Projects Management Unit (PMU)

·         The Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the MOE

·         The FCUBE Co-ordinating Unit

·         The Donor Co-ordination Office

Hitherto, the activities of donors resulted in senior managers in both the MoE and the Ghana Education Service (GES) devoting considerable time and effort to co-ordinating project identification, studies, appraisals, field trips and visits, monitoring trips, evaluations and negotiations for each donor.  In one year, as many as 54 donor missions were received by the MoE.  These missions lasted a minimum of 4 working days, often requiring meetings with the same target groups. This left senior managers with little or no time to manage their work. The new arrangements should lead to a shift away from piecemeal donor discussion to consultative donor forums in which all agencies participate. During the transition however, it will be vital to motivate all donors to buy more into multilateral discussions to help the MoE achieve the necessary streamlining of programmes.


The Ghana Education Service established in 1961 is the largest public service delivery organisation in Ghana with responsibility for the implementation of pre-tertiary education. Private schools also operate alongside the public provision by government. A new Act was implemented in 1998. It requires the GES to:

·         provide accessible, relevant, and sustainable quality education across the educational spectrum;

·         create the capacity to manage a huge conglomerate which spends more than a quarter of the national recurrent budget.

It also requires GES to be more accountable for achieving quality objectives and requires the Director General to sign a performance contract with the Council. 

The new Act also provides guidelines for School Management Committees, District Education Oversight Committees and for the strengthening and achievement of decentralisation and ownership by the Districts and communities. Much work still needs to be done in respect of providing guidelines and training to District Assemblies on the role of the private sector, communities and NGOs. 

Given the huge salary burden and the weak supervisory capacity of the GES, emphasis in managerial oversight has shifted to the district administrative level to allow direct supervision of schools by community management committees. Even though a legal framework exists, capacity of community representatives to own and manage their schools has to be enhanced. USAID, UNICEF and DFID are supporting a number of District level initiatives to this end.


As part of a national strategy to eliminate illiteracy, the Government launched a National Literary Skills Programme.  This involved the training of trainers, facilitators, supervisors and administrators of the programme; the development of training and learning materials in 15 Ghanaian Languages, the production of local newspapers in 15 Ghanaian languages, expansion of radio infrastructure and broadcasts to 2 Regions and the development of income generation and social development activities.

The programme activities in respect of local language materials development has resulted in the Ghana book Publishers Association developing an interest in producing post literacy materials in the 15 Ghanaian languages. This development has impacted positively on the production of reading materials for the formal school system also. Creative books published cover a wide range of functional skills and survival needs. Follow up post literacy activities in English have also provided useful insights into the methodology of introducing English as a second language.

In the non formal education and literacy programme, the IDA, DFID, UNICEF, WHO, CIDA, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, France, USAID, UNESCO, UNDP, FAO, OPEC, JICA and a number of NGOs have supported the programme with technical assistance and programme inputs at both the formal and informal education levels. The Non-Formal Education Division of the MoE successfully implemented the first phase of the National Functional Literacy Programme and is in the process of starting the second phase with IDA support.

During the end of project review of the first phase, participants were of the opinion that the literacy programme had impacted positively on children mostly in the rural and peri-urban areas. The programme had also enhanced the ability of many women to form co-operative economic groups. Significant lessons learnt related to population and family planning control, tree growing, record keeping and savings. In developing alternative strategies for sustaining the programme the ActionAid REFLECT methodology has been successfully piloted in two regions. It is expected that the innovative methodologies in the REFLECT approach will directly influence the design of the second phase programme.

Several NGOs are actively working at district level to enhance good governance and the economic capacity of the poor. Significantly, other related developments such as the new communications law, the operations of several private radio stations, the proliferation of local newspapers and the Media Commission's guidance to media practitioners are helping to enhance the public's awareness of its civic and moral responsibilities as citizens. The recent communications bill has reinforced this trend. It has led to a proliferation of radio stations and private newspapers whose discussion and phone-in programmes, feature articles and news stories express almost daily concerns about quality, management and access in education. In Ghana, the atmosphere for good governance is vibrant. Even when the poor have no money they will still express their views on matters that concern them. Recent media tolerance is a positive development that must be sustained.


The MoE does not have sufficient ownership of programmes being implemented within the sector.  This leads to weak leadership, to a lack of programme co-ordination and a lack of co-ordination of external aid conditionalities. This is particularly important in view of the often contradictory impact of these conditions on the wider sector policy framework.

There is a lack of qualified and experienced personnel to handle key positions and critical functions in the Ministry and in some of its agencies.  The Ministry over the years has not put in place adequate capacity building programmes to ensure that the Ministry’s staff acquire the skills needed to support key functional areas. The Ministry and GES need to develop a core group of much younger managers to sustain the quality of management and supervision.  Presently a large cohort of senior managers are within the retiring age range and the process of promoting other younger managers to fill critical management is both urgent and crucial. Now that the MoE and its Development Partners have adopted a sector-wide approach to Education Development and a “Common Basket” strategy for managing funds there will be an even greater burden on the current MOE management and co-ordination systems which it is not clear that it is equipped to manage.

The commitment to pursuing effective decentralisation of the GES to facilitate effective implementation of policies plans and programmes needs to be pursued.

To complement the capacity building support of development partners, the Office of the Civil Service needs to be appraised on the special manpower needs of the sector.  The staff appraisal policy should enhance the appointment of more youthful senior directors to enhance career development opportunities thereby giving greater meaning to institutional memory.

The GES and the MOE should pursue a policy of advertising long management positions to attract the required technical and professional expertise to enhance overall performance.

Institutional capacity building programmes should target all levels including school management, district, regional and divisional directorate leadership.

Bottlenecks in disbursement on the part of both the sector ministry and the implementing agencies on the one hand and the donor partners on the other will also need to be addressed. A careful study of the programmes and disbursement capacities reveals that apart from a few initial projects, the sector was able to quickly disburse procurement activities involving books, journals, equipment, civil works and rehabilitation.  The greater difficulty rested more with software related issues and operating systems that relied on institutional capacity, technical methodology for sustaining and replicating pilot models and constraints relating to scaling up pilot models.

The GoG and their Development Partners agree that the education programme will be greatly enhanced when all players co-operate systematically to build sustainable decentralised structures for the effective management of education programmes. This requires devolving administrative authority to the district levels and more especially, the community and school levels. This report endorses this view. However, decentralisation also demands that training be provided to District Education Oversight Committees and School Management Committees with clear directives and guidelines which indicate the scope of decentralisation. A handbook of best practices could also be developed. Specific operational issues which need to be addressed include financial decentralisation of programmes, financial management guidelines, budgetary procedures, auditing and financial reporting. Personnel postings, supervision and discipline of both teachers and pupils will have to be decentralised also. Districts will have to be innovative in their approach to school management and teaching and learning procedures and timetabling to suit the peculiar needs of each district.

Community ownership of schools will have to become a reality. To achieve this, the School Inspectorate Division of the GES will have to report to the MoE as an independent quality assurance mechanism instead of the current practice  where the GES has oversight over the inspectorate functions. Further to this Districts should exercise the right to hire and fire head teachers and teachers based on contractual and performance agreements.

To implement these recommendations, district assemblies that show initiative need to be empowered. For example, within clear policy frameworks and guidelines, districts should be able to choose their own teaching and learning support materials.



This section looks at participation in practice as it relates to the donors under review. The Treaty on European Union sets out three principles underpinning the EU approach to development co-operation:

·         Coherence between different policies of the European Union in terms of supporting or at least not undermining the EU's development objectives;

·         Complementarity between EU development policy and those of the Member States and between the different policy instruments of the EU and the Member States' development policies, in order to avoid duplication and

·         Co-ordination between and within the EU i.e. Commission managed programmes and Member States, and in the recipient countries to guarantee effective operational implementation.

There are four types of donor assistance to education and the MoE budget reforms:

·         Normal project assistance requiring future and recurrent budget support (tied to conditions)

·         Programme aid and sector investment programmes ( project activities are defined and implementation is specifically assigned to institutions outside the recurrent system)

·         Support to the recurrent budget and not tied to any specific projects (tied to conditions)

·         External finance is placed directly in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (not specifically earmarked for education, but specifies conditions relating to education sector budgetary targets).

3.1 DONOR SUPPORT IN GHANA 1985 - 1993

At the onset of the Education Reform Programme in 1986, the IDA took the leading donor role in providing Educational Structural Adjustment Credit (EdSac) to tertiary education, non formal education, vocational education and basic education. Additional project assistance came from USAID, DFID, UNICEF, CIDA, EU (grants) and the African Development Bank (loans).

In first ten years of the reforms donor assistance, though relatively unco-ordinated in terms of donor team effort, helped increase access to basic education while structurally changing the education system made up of a 6-3-3-4 system (6 years primary and 3 years schooling junior secondary, 3 years senior secondary and 4 years tertiary level education).  The curriculum was revised, education planning was made more efficient and equitable while planning and administration of the system were strengthened. Donor assistance was beneficial in that it created a demand for strategic policy reviews in the education sector.

During this period, education sector studies were undertaken to provide reliable data for policy formulation.  Government policy sought to provide technical guidelines and a strategic development framework for national human resource projections while strengthening administrative and financial management capacity.  In addition, the Government sought to provide the human resources for a national economic recovery programme. 

Throughout the period 1986-1991, donor activity was unco-ordinated resulting in the creation of several project implementation units (PIUs) within the MoE and a proliferation of micro education projects  in the education sector.  In 1992, in an effort to co-ordinate better the various international funding and technical assistance agencies, the World Bank provided support for the establishment of the Project Management Unit (PMU) with a Director General to co-ordinate the activities and missions of all funding and donor agencies.

However, many donors strongly felt that the PMU was not serving the collective interests of all donors. Joint missions were difficult to facilitate and most of the PMU staff had contracts funded through IDA credit to the government.


A summary of the approach and activities of each of the major donors under consideration is provided below. A detailed description of the activities of each donor is contained in appendix 1. The information gathered indicates that for both the GoG and for donors themselves the lack of co-ordination is still the biggest barrier to more effective support to education in Ghana. Although there have been instances of successful co-ordination, for example,  between DFID and the EC on budgetary support to the education sector, collaboration is not generally assured. For example, both DFID and GTZ provide support to teacher training but whereas the emphasis of DFID is on in service training, GTZ is focussed on pre-service training. The two approaches need to be co-ordinated however since the work of each agency should be complementary.

3.2.1        EC support

In 1994, the EU’s Development Council adopted a resolution on Education and Training that called for “action under structural adjustment facilities [to] be better integrated into the long term priorities of the developing countries”.  In this context, EU priorities for assistance were established as follows:

a)     Maximising access within the limits of available resources;

b)     stressing  the quality of education;

c)     adopting a balanced approach, but with emphasis on basic education;

d)     ensuring educational opportunities for disadvantaged groups, including women;

e)     teacher training, particularly in-service;

f)       developing local teaching programmes and materials;

g)     vocational training, particularly for the informal sectors, as part of the fight against poverty.

The EC through the European Development Fund (EDF) provides external financial support to the education sector in three forms:

·         Support to  the central government budget through the structural adjustment programme and specific technical assistance to the MoE for sector policy, strategy development, resource management and capacity building;

·         Support to District Assemblies through the EU/GoG Micro Projects Programme,

·         Support for the promotion of inter university linkages between Ghanaian and European universities.

In 1998, EC budgetary support through the Consolidated Revenue Account was approximately 3% (17 billion cedis or approximately 6.25 million euro) of the total recurrent budget or 30% of non-wage recurrent expenditure.  Between 1997-1998 approximately 3 million euro (around 8 billion cedis) was channelled to district assemblies and the education sector through the EC/GoG Micro Projects Programme to finance the construction and rehabilitation of school buildings. The EC also provides funds for projects generally at the District Assembly level.  The District Assemblies themselves determine the programmes. 

Almost 30% of all micro projects implemented are education focused.   The District Assembly guidelines provide for a minimum of 20% to education related activities. Education projects account for almost 50% of some 1850 community projects.

In 1999, the EC committed ˘25 billion (9.7 million euro) for specific budget items.  These cover the GES, primary education, junior secondary education, and special services for the physically including schools.

At tertiary level, the EC funds exchanges between Ghanaian Universities and EU Universities.  Approximately 2 million euro has been allocated for this purpose. While this approach is different from most development partners it is observed that the French, DFID, Japanese and Norwegians are also promoting this type of capacity building strategy.

Despite considerable EU activity as outlined above, in the course of the research it was observed that only the budget director of the MoE was aware of the EC programme in education.

3.2.2    GTZ/KFW

Currently Germany provides technical co-operation and infrastructural support to the Teacher Education Sub-Sector with methodology training relating to in-service teacher training. Germany has made a focused commitment under the FCUBE programme to rehabilitate 35 Teacher Training Colleges and also provide technical assistance for teacher training at pre service level. This support to the FCUBE programme is a grant aid provided as part of the German bilateral aid programme to the GoG.

3.2.3    DFID

DFID supports a sector wide programme approach and will build on the confidence of local partners.  They will also work to ensure greater flexibility in technical assistance and to enhance the financial management objectives of decentralisation.

To this end, DFID will support the process of strengthening the School Management Committees (SMCs).  DFID believes that for participation to have full meaning, SMCs must have a say in the selection of head teachers and a voice in the financial management of schools. For example, currently, head teachers are imposed on schools and SMCs have little say. For them to be accountable they must have a stake in the selection of the head teachers who will in turn sign a performance contract with the SMC.

Working with the Ghana Education Service, DFID has recently provided financial support to the budgets of some 30 selected District Assemblies in the 1998/99 fiscal year.  This pilot initiative was aimed at motivating the management of GES to work towards financial decentralisation.

DFID’s participation strategy is focused on recognising and supporting the need to motivate teachers.  DFID is presently providing bicycles, boats and accommodation for teachers based on the expressed needs of rural teachers.

3.2.4    France

French aid to education is mainly in the field of supporting French language teaching through the Resource Centres for the Study of French (CREF) project. French training support to date has covered 1500 junior secondary school (JSS) and senior secondary school (SSS) teachers in the CREF network. However, of the 1350 JSS and 300 SSS teachers trained, the impact has not been extensive due to problems with providing  follow-up training.

3.2.5    World Bank

A World Bank Evaluation (Quality Assurance Group - QAG - May 1998) on the Basic Education Sector Improvement Programme (BESIP) assessed the IDA component to be fairly standardised (and therefore ineffective) in primary education in Africa.

The Quality Assurance Group (QAG) internal evaluation found that the complexity of the Bank’s procurement systems led to very low disbursement of funds in four primary projects in Africa (with textbooks featuring as a particularly problematic area for all four countries), and this has proved to be true in Ghana.  Approximately 20% has been disbursed in three years leading to a crisis in the management of the project.  This crisis is yet to be resolved due to the fact also that the MoE has not articulated clear policy guidelines to facilitate the smooth implementation of the textbook policy.

The recent decentralisation in the World Bank (a result of President Wolfensohn’s new emphasis on client ownership) has meant that the Country Director for Ghana is now in-country.  This may provide an opportunity for management issues (including procurement) to be resolved more easily in future.


An examination of each of the donors under consideration highlights a number of issues that combine to undermine the effectiveness of donor aid to education in Ghana.

·         In spite of greater co-operation in recent times and a willingness on the part of donors to buy into a Government led programme, international and foreign policy concerns as well as aid conditions, continue to direct donor assistance.

·         The absence of a critical list or pool of external consultants appears to diminish the acceptability of GoG policy proposals. Identifying donors as lead agencies in technical strategic thinking enhances the acceptability of research findings. However, even then GoG action plans did not always satisfy the various donors’ internal project identification requirements. This resulted in further studies, follow up appraisals and project assessment missions due to nagging differences in project formulation requirements. This is clearly a drain on GoG resources and leads to delays in project implementation.

·         Difficulties in expanding and mainstreaming donor supported pilot programmes. Several innovative approaches have emerged particularly in the development of basic education and adult literacy programmes in Ghana:

·           DFID-  child-centred learning and teaching methodology (model


·           UNICEF- community involvement in school management


·           World Bank- school improvement fund (SIF)

·           USAID- quality improvement standards in basic schools (QUIP)

·           FAO- financial literacy strategies

·           EU/DFID- budgeting and financial decentralisation

·           ActionAid- street children, peace education, alternative approaches  to shepherd schools and REFLECT

These success stories however have raised deep rooted questions related to scaling up, sustainability, human resource capacity at district and school levels as well as financial control and financial decentralisation concerns which the GoG, together with its development partners, needs to address. 

·         Donors' budgetary related conditionalities create distortions in financing the sector wide education reform process. If the various financial conditionalities imposed by donors were better co-ordinated, systematic modifications could be implemented thereby strengthening the capacity of government to effect the required budgetary reallocations for better efficiency and effectiveness. For example, the current budgetary constraints at the centre and the difficulties faced by the implementing agencies in enhancing ownership of district level educational programmes could be better addressed by transferring the financial management of programmes to the district levels.


In the Ghanaian development landscape, deepening participation will require the development of social capital and the provision of an operational and organisational framework for the participation of development partners.

 Over the period of the education reform implementation, feedback from independent studies commissioned by donors and sheer public outcry, as well as monitoring and school inspectorate reports have helped the sector ministry to review the law on pre-tertiary education. Issues and concerns raised during the national forum on education on falling standards and criterion reference test results have all helped to draw attention to major constraints in the sector. Looking for systems and innovative practices that work have deepened the search for the real clients of the education sector. The MoE needs to make greater efforts to identify the stakeholders and the roles they should play in providing a customer oriented focus.

A direct benefit of this debate has been that recognition is now being given to an Educational Donor/NGO network with an emerging willingness of the MoE and the GES to discuss the role of NGOs and other stakeholders such as their development partners.

3.4.1 Co-ordination of donor partnerships and aid inflows

Financial integration of both GoG and development partners resources have been fused into a Medium Term Expenditure Framework, thereby capturing the financial partnership required to implement sector performances. However, the absence of a distinct and comprehensive framework for Government/Bilateral/Multilateral and NGO collaboration leaves a serious problem for partners wanting to work through other agencies. MoE must persuade all partners to sign a Joint Implementation Memorandum involving Government, donors, local NGOs and international NGOs.  This agreement should also take account of reporting and accountability requirements to enhance protection and transparency.

Weak co-ordination of development partner activities continues to be a serious issue.  The inability of donors to agree on common participatory processes puts developing countries with limited logistics for project formulation under undue stress resulting in the impression that country programmes are more donor driven than is actually the case. The MoE therefore has to provide strategic leadership in this regard by agreeing to use the logical framework approach as an entry point to strategic thinking. In spite of this all donors alike developed their specific focus and orientation based on their internal requirements resulting in slippage in the original implementation schedules. Indeed as a result of this practice the donors could not endorse the common basket approach to financing the basic education programme. Strategically the institutional difficulties of buying into a Ghana programme have become more apparent as various sub elements are in danger of being further fragmented due to the fact that donors have argued that piloted models are not replicable or sustainable given the high operational costs and level of external technical experts used.  (e.g. UNICEF Child Scope Programme).

As each donor places particular emphasis on specific strategic options, the donor monthly meetings held among participating development partners including NGOs provide the clearing house for sharing perceptions and thinking about individual donor responses. This collective approach, synthesised through a logical framework approach based on National Development goals and objectives as stated in various Government documents provides the framework for Ghana’s short, medium and long term goals. Unfortunately, donors have found that senior counterparts at ministerial or implementing agency level are reluctant to participate in the monthly meetings for fear that they may inadvertently commit the Government to policy positions. Desk officers from the funding partners are also constrained by the fact that they do not have the necessary mandates to move programme implementation forward until the scheduled Consultative Donor and GoG reviews. This situation often leads to delays in programme implementation.

There are several consultants rendering services to the MoE and its Agencies but little or no co-ordination of their work resulting in the waste of precious resources and duplication of activities. With little or weak co-ordination of development partner activities including the work of foreign consultants, some development partners recruit consultants who are unsuitable.  This situation has also led to some Partners fielding consultants for long periods of time in MoE/GES.  The result of this is that Partners rather than the MoE dictate the pace of work and priorities.

3.4.2.   MoE change goals

In terms of the MoE's own efforts to manage its relationships with development partners, the MoE desires flexible agreements, which allow for amendments, adoption and review on the part of all stakeholders. To this end, efforts will be made to:

·         Achieve more multilateral agreements as against bilateral agreements. DFID has provided leadership in this respect with a draft framework based on a multilateral approach in the Health Sector in Ghana for possible adoption.

·         Build MoE capacity by placing emphasis on organisational systems and procedural reforms.  Short, medium and long term training programmes supported by development partners will be harmonised with particular focus on human resource enhancement programmes offered by World Bank and DFID.

·         Pursue a policy of mainstreaming to better interpret functions and roles of consultants, implementing institutions and retention of qualified technical personnel.

·         Endorse a sector-wide approach for continuity of policies and better and more efficiently use available funds.

·         Facilitate the comprehensive sector wide programme development strategy to which donors are willing to contribute funds.

·         Achieve consensus with funding partners to sign on to a MoE led sector wide education programme.




Dialogue and debate between donors, NGOs and Government and parents, guardians and pupils and Government must all relate to enhancing ownership and influence in the management, design, and development of education.  In Ghana, as may well be the case elsewhere, poverty, malnutrition and low income all contribute to undermining the ability of the poor to actively participate in managing and financing education. This is why the debate on the process of influencing and sharing control and decisions that affect the poor should always be on the decision table of all developing partners and across sectors. With respect to community participation in education policy and planning in Ghana, the actions of both GoG and development partners highlight a number of constraints to effective participation:

·         Various pilot schemes have been supported by different donors leading to the evolution of the whole school concept.  This concept seeks to establish minimum quality standards as a model for all schools. Donors and the Sector Ministry are in agreement that the bigger challenge is to provide equal opportunities and access for all children. To develop ownership, empowerment of communities, district, regional and national level participation, GoG and development partners have endorsed a number of strategies. However, although policy is broadly endorsed in principle, the detailed programme activities and mainstreaming of the different strategies needs to be considered further.

·         Due to the fact that most donors seem to be co-ordinating disbursement activities more on a resident country office basis, and using short-term consultants for specific assignments, they largely fail to capture the deeper hands-on experience of many local NGOs who work directly out of districts and communities. Religious NGOs, UNICEF, USAID, the Canadians and to a large extent British NGOs work directly in selected Districts with field personnel directly working with Community Based Organisations.

·         By virtue of the programme formulation process of the MoE, donors support the sector initiatives based on their protocol of understanding, bilateral agreements or multilateral sharing of areas of support. Key goals and objectives are based on constitutional obligations, Government policy such as financial decentralisation, ownership by District Assemblies, equity, targeting the poor and vulnerable, gender concerns etc. The level of consultation is based on pre-determined levels of stakeholder consultation.

·         While most donors are satisfied with feedback received during the Education Donor Forum (organised on a rotation donor Chairmanship basis), local and international NGOs crave more direct involvement.  Indeed, there is a growing demand for the Education Sector to clearly state the policy framework for Donor and NGO involvement as well as private enterprise involvement.  Government is resisting the direct financing of NGOs by donors to the detriment of the GES.

·         Meanwhile the urban middle class are voting with their feet and opting for more private educational training at basic, secondary and tertiary levels.  This is due to the impression that private schools perform better than public schools.

·         Piecemeal attempts by donors have been made to increase communities’ capacity to participate in education. For example, USAID provided technical assistance to develop financial and management skills in their pilot partnership communities by training Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and School Management Committees (SMCs) in effective meeting management, basic funds management, project planning and proposal writing.  They also provided guidance in preparing and implementing community project plans.

·         To increase the level of NGO involvement, District Assemblies could establish NGO/Donor co-ordination desks which clearly outline mechanisms for NGO involvement.  External partners could sit in on District Assembly meetings as observers as is the case in a number of ActionAid Ghana projects in the Northern Region of Ghana.

·         There is already a forum of NGOs that dialogues directly with the executive arm of government. This model could be decentralised to the regional and district level.


With the help of the Ghana Statistical Service and the Ministry of Local Government, the one hundred and ten District Assemblies have been assessed in terms of their poverty ranking. Several donors have also built their own poverty profiles based on their own corporate goals. Several other donors such as UNICEF advocated that the process must be broadened to capture the quality of life of the most poor and deprived. World Vision International, ActionAid and the World Food Programme also carried out community assessments to demarcate the sub-district dimensions of poverty and programme baseline assessments.

Many donors specifically encourage the Government to target the poor and disadvantaged. To attract and increase the demand for basic education for girls, other under represented groups and rural children, scholarships, incentives for female teachers, an emphasis on gender equity and sensitivity in the design of educational materials and training are pursued by the MoE. Participatory Learning Appraisal methodologies supported by UNICEF in selected regions are being used to encourage community involvement in and understanding of the need for schooling of the girl child.

The World Bank carried out a National Poverty Study to deepen its understanding of urban and rural poverty, gender, the nature of employment and coping strategies of the poor.  Much as these research studies have helped to bring to the fore the difficult situations of the poor such as single headed households and urban unemployment, the bigger challenge has been building district level awareness.

The MoE and the GES have specifically created a Girl Education Unit to promote the support, enrolment, retention and motivation of the girl child.  Personnel recruitment for Regional and District Girl’s Education officers has been undertaken with the Northern Region.  Training has been requested for local community officers who will undertake advocacy, lobbying and networking visits to communities.



This report has identified a number of systemic blockages to more effective education policy making and delivery in Ghana by examining the impact of the development partners and communities in influencing that process. Several issues have arisen:

·         institutional and managerial problems relating to the MoE's mission and objectives;

·         Lack of donor co-ordination

·         Systemic bottlenecks caused by the regional administrative structures;

·         Government attitude to promoting greater roles and partnership between foreign and local NGOs.

·         Low level of systematic community participation and involvement in education policy making and implementation.

Policies that could increase access, ownership and accountability still need to be firmed up in the following areas:

·         textbook production and copyright related issues of the role of publishers

·         personnel placement and teacher training

·         financial decentralisation, management and budgeting norms

·         financing and cost sharing in entire sector

·         private sector involvement in the sector wide delivery of quality education

·         affirmative action on gender access to managerial placements, access at all levels of education

A number of recommendations for addressing these issues and policy shortcomings have been made throughout this report grouped by issue in each of the chapters. The box on the following page groups the most important of these recommendations. Education that provides equity and access to all poor persons should not be left in the hands of politicians and centralised implementing agencies, rather it must be owned and managed by local managers together with local and community partners. These recommendations can help ensure that this is so. 

Text Box: ·         That the root causes of poverty are actively addressed at all levels. 
·         That in projecting strategies for the new policy framework, the MoE puts greater emphasis on strategic leadership, effective consultations between it and development partners based on priority areas, targeted goals, better and prompter data collection and timely financial disbursement.
·         In seeking to build partnership based on mutual trust and transparency, the existing Consultative Panel Group on Basic Education should take on a sector-wide perspective and commitment.
·         To this end, the Ghana programme, in collaboration with donors and development partners needs to create;
·         An educational system that takes account of all stakeholders in the policy making and strategic planning process.
·         An enabling environment for the poor and vulnerable through the provision of second-chance literacy opportunities as they directly and indirectly impinge on poverty
·         Opportunities for fair and equitable access to all persons in addition to working consciously towards removing bottlenecks and inequities that create injustice and denial of rights and potentials of all. 
·         To streamline sector programmes in education, multilateral agreements or Memoranda of Understanding between all development partners on one hand and the Ministry of Finance and the Education Sector on the other should be adopted through joint negotiations, supervision and reviews. 
·         In adopting a common basket approach to financing a sector wide programme, donors must be encouraged to reduce matching fund requirements on a project by project basis.
·         To deepen transparency, there must be agreement on the mechanisms for independent external audit for all collective donor funds provided.
·         Donors/development partners must enhance trust and confidence between partners by factoring into their discussions debt servicing realities and principles with government partners.
·         Mechani.
·         Govert priorities with respect to achieving set objectives must take advantagof grant aid as against commercial loans for projects.
·         To enhance financial decentralisation to the districts and communities, the local government bodies and the Ministry of Finance must work tirelessly to ensure that Districts and schools own their programmes and budgets within guidelines that achieve policy goals and objectives.
·         Decentralised local government authorities must work out regulatory procedures and operational relationships with NGOs and decentralised external funding partners to reduce duplication and rivalry with a view to improving co-ordination, institutional capacity building and the role of the private sector.  This will enhance supervision, accountability, equity and participation of all stakeholders. At national level NGOs must be invited to participate alongside multilateral and bilateral partners in MoE strategic meetings.
·         Education that provides equity and access to all poor persons should not be left in the hands of politicians and centralised implementing agencies, rather it must be owned and managed by local managers together with local and community partners. 























Appendix 1: Donor support to aid to education in Ghana

1.      EC support

In October 1994 the European Commission undertook an examination of the macro budget scenario of the Education Sector Budget with a view to strengthening the effectiveness of structural adjustment assistance under the terms of the Lome Convention. A major objective of the assistance is to provide general import support to the economic reform programme.  In addition, this assistance is to help maintain budgeted expenditure in the education sector within the overall limits agreed in the public expenditure programme.  The transfer of foreign exchange from the structural adjustment facility generates counterpart funds in local currency (cedis).      

As part of this process the EC provided technical assistance to the Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation (PBME) Division of the MoE, to help it analyse Government expenditures on education.  The information and supporting analysis complemented the analysis of the World Bank, DFID and the Ministry in their search for the unit cost of financing one literate primary school pupil.  It also helped rationalise the budget of the basic education programme since it was already determined that Government expenditure in basic education was in crisis (95% of the budget went to the payment of salaries).  Donors were of the view that to sustain the reforms and achieve the quality targets, the budget must steadily provide between 12%-15 % of financial outlay for non-salary expenditure.

Collaborative efforts between DFID and EC through budgetary assistance have specifically led to a common understanding and clear policy objectives on a year by year basis for non-wage costs. Indeed, no education system can be sustained without adequate provision being made for the procu