(Re)Assessing the Impact of School Capitation Grants on Educational Access in Ghana
Improving educational access in Ghana has moved through several paths and trajectories landing with the introduction of capitation grants to eradicate fees in basic schools. Available education statistics data suggests that in its first year the introduction of capitation grants produced a seismic shift in demand as hoped for by the policy. The principle behind introducing capitation was that it would eliminate household need to pay fees for basic education, especially for the poor who it had been shown were not accessing education because of the costs, and enable schools to use the funds to improve the quality of education. This paper examines the effect capitation has had on achieving these goals, in particular, the extent to which it has impacted on access for the poor and continues to make education more accessible. Using EMIS and CREATE school enrolment data from two districts in the south and north of Ghana, it investigates the underlying factors that shape access and participation, and what the implications are for achieving greater impact from capitation. The paper concludes with concrete proposals on maximising the impact of capitation on educational access in Ghana.
The introduction of Capitation Grant as a demand-side intervention to improve access works up to a point – its success lies in pulling a large group of out of school children back into education. As the evidence discussed in the paper shows, the greater challenge is to eliminate dropout and that the age of entry and regular attendance is at the heart of the challenge facing the achievement of sustainable access. The paper argues that a system unprepared to deal with the surge in enrolments through increased infrastructure and incentives to reward schools that achieve internal efficiency and effectiveness, may find that Capitation Grant actually creates more problems for future attempts to achieve sustained enrolment. Further, the paper argues that if the problem of dropout and overage enrolment is not tackled through a set of policies that reduce their effect, then it is unlikely the structure and pattern of access in Ghana will change for a long time. Certainly, Capitation will not be the answer to this problem. As systems achieve high enrolment as a result of demand-side interventions such as Capitation, this has to be translated into sustained attendance if the benefits of attendance is not to be reduced to the point where the initial gains are not eroded.
The story of the rather limited impact of Capitation Grant is a wakeup call for identifying policies and strategies that do not only increase gross enrolment, but also make schools more efficient in terms of understanding how to deal with the wide range of learning needs that pupils who have been out of school bring when they re-enrol or enrol for the first time. The other important message is that, there needs to be a faster delivery of Capitation Grant to schools while ensuring accountability in the use of the funds. The paper concludes with concrete proposals on maximising the impact of capitation on educational access in Ghana.
Akyeampong, K. (Re)Assessing the Impact of School Capitation Grants on Educational Access in Ghana. Centre for International Education, Department of Education, University of Sussex, Falmer, UK (2011) 48 pp. ISBN 0-901881-84-8 [CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Research Monograph Number 71.]