WHY DID THE WORLD BANK GROUP (WBG) AGREE TO LEND MONEY TO GHANA FOR SECONDARY EDUCATION AT THIS TIME OF TIGHT BUDGET CONTROL?
Ghana’s Constitution mandates that all efforts are made to make education gradually universal and progressively free. With access to primary education becoming near universal in Ghana, new priorities are emerging at post-basic level where the demand for secondary education is fast increasing and the supply of senior high schools (SHS) has not kept pace. Ghana’s middle income status will also require more secondary level graduates with the relevant skills to continue their education and/or enter the labor market, hence investing in secondary education at this time will improve the human capital of the country, and also improve long-term competitiveness, access jobs and improve people’s lives and incomes.
WHY ONLY SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS AND NOT TECHNICAL OR BASIC SCHOOLS?
The purpose of the project does not preclude investing in technically oriented SHS programs and where selected SHSs offer technical and vocational programs, these will be supported. Most of the external funding for the last 15 years has been going to basic and technical education. The SHS system has challenges in terms of equity, access and quality. The WBG’s support is not mutually exclusive of other subsectors. In fact, the support to secondary education complements current ongoing support for increasing the quality of basic education (Ghana Partnership for Education Grant - $75.5 million), improving skills training and science and technology adoption (Ghana Skills and Technology Development Project - $70 million), improving higher education relevance and centers of excellence (Oil and Gas Capacity Building Project and the Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence Project.) The basic education sector is also well supported by several development partners whose efforts are coordinated by the education sector. These include Department for International Development (DFID) supporting girls scholarships at primary and junior high school (JHS) level, USAID supporting reading and learning assessments at basic level, UNICEF supporting basic education for out of school children, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supporting science and math education and World Food Programme (WFP.) The African Development Bank, Germany (KfW and GIZ) and DANIDA also provide significant support for TVET and skills development. The WBG works closely with all of these partners to ensure collaboration and coordination in its support for education in Ghana.
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF THE PROJECT?
The $156 million project is intended to be implemented over a five year period, 2014-2019. It will use a results-based financing approach, which means that funds are only released based on the achievement of specific results expected to help Ghana see improved educational outcomes in an equitable manner. The results-based approach, as a tool, focuses on results or outcomes rather than inputs.
- Component 1 aims to increase access, promote equity and improve quality in the SHS system.
- Subcomponent 1 (a) expanding access through the construction of approximately 23 new SHS in underserved areas, facilities improvement and expansion of existing low performing schools and through support for SHS access by disadvantaged students (scholarships to students from low income families, especially girls).
- Subcomponent 1 (b) improving the quality of education in at least 125 selected low-performing SHS through: (i) strengthened school management and accountability; (ii) mathematics and science teaching and learning; (iii) information and communication technology expansion and connectivity in schools; and (iv) the introduction of school performance partnerships for school level improvements.
- Component 2 aims to strengthen institutional capacity for delivery of better secondary education results.
- Subcomponent 2 (a) includes technical assistance to strengthen capacity of MOE, GES and other implementing agencies to carry out project activities. This includes financial audits, technical audits, impact evaluations and development of key materials for leadership training and math and science training.
- Subcomponent 2 (b) supports the improvement of the monitoring and evaluation system. The project will support baseline data gathering and analysis and endline survey and analysis. In addition, this subcomponent supports better integration of school census with GSS data.
- Subcomponent 2 (c) will finance the execution of a school mapping of all secondary schools using GPS, school data, to help inform decision making about resources, teacher allocations, computerized selection and rehabilitation/upgrading needs. The school mapping will be updated annually and reflected in the annual publication of school performance available to the public on a website and brochure.
- Subcomponent 2 (d) builds on the school mapping to roll out an ICT platform to monitor all secondary schools using mobile smartphone technology. This dynamic tool aims to provide real-time information (accessible to all stakeholders on the website) to closely track progress of key project activities and to allow for social accountability. The tool will be provided to those tasked with supervision and monitoring, but will also be used by CSOs and other stakeholders to allow for random verification of on-the ground results.
- Subcomponent 2 (e) will finance the cost of consultants/firm to conduct independent verification of the achievement of the results. This verification will be required before funds can be released. This verification is complemented by other tools for sector monitoring such as school mapping, EMIS data, WAEC analysis, GSS statistics and expenditure and payroll data.
- Subcomponent 2 (f) will finance research and diagnostic activities to advise the government on SHS policy and strategy, which would help provide on-demand analyses, surveys and impact assessments as well as various reviews of education financing, efficiency surveys, etc. The project will also support improved collaboration between MOE, WAEC and Ghana Statistical Service so that comprehensive data drives policy decisions in the sector.
WHAT IS THE SEIP INTENDED TO ACHIEVE?
The project development objective is to increase access to senior secondary education in underserved districts and improve quality in low-performing SHS in Ghana. The project is targeted to ensure resources focus on considerations of equity. Selection of project sites and beneficiaries involves objective criteria based on data from Population Census, Ghana Living Standards Survey 6 and annual school census based on the Education Management Information System (EMIS). The SEIP focuses on improving access in underserved districts through new school construction (in 23 districts), senior secondary school facilities and quality improvements of existing SHS (125). The project is expected to benefit approximately 30,000 new students in secondary education programs, 150,000 students in low performing schools, 2000 senior high school teachers, head teachers, in addition to education officials.
IS THE SEIP BEING FORCED ON GHANA? WHAT CONDITIONS, IF ANY ARE ATTACHED TO THIS PROJECT? IS THE DISTRIBUTION OF SANITARY PADS PART OF THE PROJECT?
No, the WBG does not force projects on its borrower member countries. Projects are requested by the government and the WBG team conducts a rigorous appraisal of the proposed program before submitting the project for Board approval. There are no conditions attached to this project.
There is no mention of sanitary pads anywhere in the project document. As part of the equitable access results area, the government plans to award at least 10,000 eligible students scholarships. At least 60% of these scholarships are expected to be awarded to females. The scholarships will be available for day students in existing schools that are targeted under the SEIP and also in the newly constructed schools when they are completed. The government of Ghana, in collaboration of school authorities and other stakeholders will determine how to disburse the scholarships, whether in cash or in kind.
DOES THIS LOAN PROVIDE VALUE FOR MONEY? WHAT MEASURES ARE IN PLACE TO PREVENT CORRUPTION?
Yes, the loan was prepared on value for money principles. In addition the access, quality and equity considerations provide a balanced approach to improving secondary education in Ghana. Regarding Component 1, which is results based, the project will follow the Ghana Public Procurement, 2003 (Act 663) procedures and directions. Independent verification will verify, among its many verification activities, whether the GPP Act 663 has been followed for procurement under this component. The second component will be subjected to Bank prior and post reviews depending on applicable thresholds, based on World Bank Procurement Guidelines. The SEIP was developed to reflect the World Banks procurement, financial management, auditing, social accountability and anti-corruption standards. A robust M&E system will be established to ensure performance monitoring and transparency. The project also includes a web-based monitoring system to be deployed in a participatory manner and will involve CSOs and other stakeholders including the general public. In addition, payment schedules for project activities will be determined by the government’s achievement of agreed outcomes which would be verified through independent means. There are also annual intermediate targets and end of project targets to be met and measured. Furthermore, investing US$156 million in SHS education in five years is about 10% of the funds budgeted by the Government to run the SHS system. A 10% investment to improve access, equity and quality at this level is expected to have an impact on the overall quality of education, social inclusion and labor market outcomes.
THE NEW SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOLS TO BE BUILT UNDER THE PROJECT COST ALMOST THREE TIMES AS MUCH AS THE NEW ONES BEING BUILT UNDER THE GOG FUNDED SCHOOLS, WHY IS THAT SO?
The SEIP is supporting the results from construction of complete SHS schools- these schools include standard four-story classrooms E-block, laboratories, toilets, teacher flats, head teacher bungalow, technical and vocational blocks where necessary and other core structures and furniture/inputs. Payments will only be made based on the number of utilized seats, hence the need for complete schools. The contracts for 50 new SHS is being rolled out in phases and the first phase only includes the standard four-story classroom E-block and furnishings/inputs. The understanding from government is that the additional structures are expected to be rolled out at a later time. This difference in the number of structures and inputs reflects the difference in estimated costs.
THE ISSUE OF SUSTAINABILITY HAS COME UP IN VARIOUS DISCUSSIONS. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ALL FUNDS ARE DISBURSED AND THE PROJECT CLOSES AFTER THE 5 YEARS OF IMPLEMENTATION?
The government's strategy to increase equitable access and improve the quality of secondary education has significant fiscal implications for both investment and recurrent costs. Given the current macroeconomic situation, the SEIP aims to encourage greater rationalization of expenditures and prioritization of investments. Key activities under the Ghana Education Sector Project (EdSeP 2004-2011) and the Ghana Education For All Fast Track Initiative projects (EFA-FTI 2005-2008), have been sustained because investments were focused on targeted beneficiaries and/or districts to ensure more equitable financing in the sector to those localities and populations previously underserved. The government is applying lessons from previous projects in developing a targeted program based on a long term vision to make secondary education gradually universal and progressively free, a requirement of Ghana’s Constitution. With facilities and quality improvement of existing SHSs, the government is introducing efficiencies which will allow more students to access SHS in existing facilities. As part of its program, the government plans to initiate an expenditure review which will recommend efficiency measures to improve the sustainability of the SHS sub-sector. Better schools may attract more students which may improve the utilization rate in under subscribed SHSs and indirectly lead to the decongestion of over-subscribed SHSs.
THE SEIP IS SUPPORTING A NUMBER OF ACTIVITIES. HOW ARE WE SURE THAT THESE ARE THE IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES TO DELIVER THE RESULTS OF PROVIDING QUALITY SHS EDUCATION AND EQUITABLE ACCESS?
As a results-based project, funds will be disbursed only when key results or outcomes are achieved, ensuring that services are delivered and not just inputs procured. The SEIP activities are also evidence-based and the preparation of the project had a rigorous analytical focus. This ensures that implementation focuses on activities that have been proven to deliver outcomes e.g. scholarships. The in-built flexibility of a results-based approach and the allowance to conduct further research under Component 2 also ensures that as implementation progresses, the government will have an opportunity to test out different modes of delivery in order to achieve the agreed results. This flexibility will help inform policy makers on how to maximize impact and apply lessons learned.
WHAT ARE THE TERMS OF BORROWING?
The terms of borrowing are: 1.25% interest per annum and a 25 year repayment, including a five-year grace period.