BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
While basic education is considered a fundamental human right, and therefore, incumbent on governments to provide education for all children irrespective of their social, cultural or economic background, the issue of the costs continues to challenge both governments and households on how to achieve this goal. Lack of education contributes to social inequalities and vulnerability to poverty (Moncrieff 2009), and therefore, combating social exclusion has to start with ensuring equal access to quality education for all. In fact, the lack of educational opportunities for children often reinforces their subjection to various other human rights violation (EFA Working Document 1996 p. 45). The issue of rights to basic education goes as far back as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) article 26 which declared that, everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Similarly, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), articles 13 and 14 reinforced these rights, stating that, primary education shall be compulsory and available “free to all” (emphasis added). But, though basic education as a human right is embedded in several legal and constitutional frameworks of many developing countries, this has not necessarily led to the abolition of school fees to ensure the enjoyment of this right by all. According to UNESCO, roughly one in five countries, do not constitutionally guarantee free and compulsory primary education, and the proportion rises to one in three if North America and Western Europeare included (UNESCO 2007, p 25). Nevertheless, the international consensus is that free basic education should be a fundamental and basic human right. Improving the quantity and quality of education remains an important goal for many countriesincluding Ghana. This is in line with the country’s subscription to the MillenniumDevelopment Goal (MDGs) and also its own local constitutional requirement. Education Policy Framework in Ghana
The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana under Article 25 (1) guarantees the right of all persons to equal educational opportunities and facilities by ensuring free, compulsory and universal basic education. The provision under the Constitution also ensures that secondary and higher education shall be made available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and inparticular, by progressive introduction of free education. Functional literacy is also ensured under the constitution and provision is made for resourcing schools at all levels with adequatefacilities.Aside the constitutional provisions, the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) II recognizeseducation as the key to moving the country towards a middle income status by 2015 and as aresult, identifies the development of human capital as one of the three thematic areas of the plan. Aside aiming to meet goal 2 of the MDGs, the GPRS II also aims to strengthen the quality ofeducation especially at the basic level, improve the quality and efficiency in the delivery ofeducation services and bridge the gender gap in terms of education access in the country. In 2003, the Education Strategic Plan (ESP) based on the Poverty Reduction Strategy came intoforce and it covered the period 2003-2005. The Strategic Plan operated within the framework ofa sector wide approach for education and this was situated partly within the Multi-Donor Budgetary Support (MDBS) framework (Adam-Issah et al., 2007). The ESP which provided theframework or roadmap for achieving the education related MDGs was based on four key areas:equitable access, education management and Science and technology and Vocational education. There were ten policy goals to the ESP and this covered increasing access to and participation ineducation and training, improving the quality of teaching and learning for enhanced...
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