The dialogue, which brought together many of the respected voices in education, was under the theme: “Repositioning Tertiary Education for National Development”.
The minister noted that the tertiary education terrain in Ghana had expanded drastically within the last decade and-a-half, adding that, currently, there were over 114 tertiary institutions in Ghana.
These comprise nine public-funded universities, 10 polytechnics, 38 colleges of education, two specialized teaching institutions and about 58 non-public funded accredited private tertiary institutions.
According to the National Council on Tertiary Education (NCTE), the total student population of public tertiary institutions reached 192,558 in the last academic year while student enrolment for private institutions for the 2011/2012 academic year was 58, 784.
The total resource envelope of the tertiary sector in the 2011/ 2012 academic year was approximately 885.7 million cedis (about 466.1 million US dollars).
Out of this figure, the minister said about 65 percent was direct government contribution, with nearly 96.5 percent of this going into employee compensation or salaries.
Prof Opoku-Agyemang stressed the need for the country to begin improving the governance structures, enhancing accountability and be mindful of neither compromising staff benefits nor unnecessarily over-burdening students and the tax-payer.
The chairman of the NCTE, Professor Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe, said Ghana was making all efforts to surmount the challenges facing the educational sector, but stressed that much needed to be done to find a lasting solution to the problems.
After gaining independence in 1957, successive Ghanaian governments recognized the importance of education as a tool for socio-economic development.
They therefore devoted significant resources to the education sector, providing all facilities, and paying salaries and allowances of teachers, administrators and workers through the Ministry of Education’s annual budget.
This resourcing of tertiary education existed until the 1980s when government launched the Economic Recovery Program (ERP) to stabilize the economy, leading to the abolition of free boarding and the institution of tuition and utility user fees.
Among the various reasons assigned to the reduction in governments’ funding of tertiary institutions were the distressed economy and dispute about the beneficiaries of tertiary education.
Faced with this funding deficit, stakeholders began to look for alternative sources of funding, such as cost recovery and cost efficiency techniques.
This article originally appeared on Coast Week website. The original article can be found here