Following the success stories of Indian-owned educational institutions Bluecrest University (formerly NIIT) and IPMC Training in Ghana, other Indian companies can take advantage of the government’s decision to offer tax breaks to entrepreneurs to improve the country’s education sector.
Presenting the 2018 budget earlier this month, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said Ghana is considering tax breaks to assist entrepreneurs in the higher institutions sector to help position the country as a higher-education hub as of the recent growth in the sector which has attracted students from the West African region to the country.
Figures from the National Accreditation Board (NAB) show that there are 10 public universities and 79 private universities in the country. There are also five registered tertiary institutions. But these do not seem to be serving the enormous number of students looking to enter universities.
Ofori-Atta said the education sector represents high-growth potential with multiplier effects on the economy as confirmed by a recent “Country Private Sector Diagnostic” study by the World Bank Group. This is also borne out by the rapid growth in privately-owned and managed universities as well as in the inward flow of students from the West Africa sub-region.
It was, therefore, the government’s intention to “support the sector in order to position Ghana as the premier higher education hub of the sub-region and to attract critical foreign direct investment into the sector”.
The World Bank-International Monetary Fund report said the capacity of Ghana’s public universities has not kept pace with demand and only half of all applicants to public universities can be admitted. It described this as a growth area that needs more investment.
The report said student enrolment in tertiary education is growing at 10 per cent annually, from 175,000 in 2011 to 267,000 in 2014. “However, the tertiary gross enrolment rate remains at only 18 percent, as opposed to a target of 25 per cent set by the government, leaving room to improve access to higher education,” the report noted.
It said the demand for tertiary education is expected to continue to grow strongly, given the increasing enrolment at the senior high-school level. To keep up with rising demand and high gross enrolment rate targets, the government is considering distance education as a key solution.
“Distance education comprises about 15 per cent of total tertiary enrolment, with University of Cape Coast being the largest provider (about 37,000 enrolments). Apart from public universities, some private universities, such as Laweh Open University College and Accra Institute of Technology, also offer distance education,” the report said. However, the presence of private providers is limited to less than one per cent.
Last year, the President of the Accra Institute of Technology (AIT), Clement Dzidonu, said the current number of higher institutions for a population of 25 million translates into a university per capita rate of around 3.5 compared to the global average of 18.6. As a result, he said, given the Gross Enrolment Rate of tertiary education in Ghana, the country was registering just 10 per cent as against the global average of 27 per cent.