Business News of 2014-07-04

Minister justifies World Bank loan

The Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, has justified the US$156 million World Bank Loan to improve access to senior high school education in the country.

Approximately 30,000 new students in second cycle institutions, 150,000 students from low-performing schools and 2,000 senior high school teachers, head teachers and education officials would benefit from the money under the Secondary Education Improvement Project.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, the minister also defended the use of part of the loan to procure sanitary pads for deprived SHS girls, explaining that supplying of pads to such girls was critical because some of the girls were forced to stay away from school “during that time of the month and we think that is unacceptable.”

Importance of sanitary pads

Professor Opoku-Agyemang added that the decision to supply the sanitary pads to some less privileged students under a scholarship scheme in the Ghana Secondary School Improvement Programme was aimed at encouraging them to stay in school.

She explained that most of such girls stayed away from school during their menstrual period to avoid being teased by their mates at school and appealed that the issue must be treated with the urgency it deserved.

"The issue of girls’ sanitation is not a laughing matter. It’s a very serious issue," she said, and admonished all to support the policy and to handle it with the “sensitivity required."

Equity and quality

Touching on the first component, which would cost US$140.1 million, she said it would focus on increasing access with equity and quality.

“This component uses a result-based financing modality. Disbursements up to a capped absolute amount will be made against specific line items in the education sector annual budget, referred to as eligible expenditure programmes,” she said.

Professor Opoku-Agyemang said the disbursement of the funds would be based on achievement of specified results, as measured by disbursement-linked indicators. “Policies and interventions to be supported are grouped into two pillars: (i) increasing access with equity (geographic, gender, poverty, etc.); and (ii) improving quality of selected low performing SHSs,” she explained.

Improved access

She said the objective of pillar one was to improve access to SHS education in underserved districts in the country by the construction of 23 new SHSs in selected districts expected to enrol 15,000 students.

In addition to the new SHSs, Professor Opoku-Agyemang announced that 50 existing SHSs would be improved through expansion and rehabilitation of existing structures and facilities, and expected to enrol an additional 10,000 students.

Scholarship

She, among other things, disclosed that under the project, 10,400 SHS students from low income families, especially girls, would benefit from a scholarship scheme.

To qualify for the scholarship, Professor Opoku-Agyemang announced among others that a candidate should be one who took care of himself/herself, a disabled without support, an orphan without support, a student living with HIV/AIDS, a student from a LEAP beneficiary household and a student in a household with income below the minimum wage.

The beneficiaries, she said, would be supplied with various items including school fees, exam fees, transport to school, uniforms, house dresses and PE kits, school bags and shoes.

Low performing SHSs

Pillar two of the project, which would cost US$15 million, according to the minister, would take into consideration the improvement of quality education in selected low-performing SHSs. “The objective of this pillar is to improve the quality of SHSs, with a focus on mathematics and science education in selected low performing schools," she added.

Component two

The second component, she said, totalling US$15.9 million, which would focus on management, research, monitoring and evaluation, aimed to strengthen the implementation capacity of the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service and its related implementing agencies.

Source: graphic.com
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