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Education in GhanaThere is a stark difference in education in Ghana between the northern and southern regions. 18-year-old Kelvin Odartei lives in Southern Ghana and recently became the first car-owner in his community. However, Odartei’s kinfolk in the northern regions of Ghana had no such chances. Despite a renowned ranking in Africa due to its natural wealth, Ghana struggles with educational infrastructure in the northern regions. Politics in northern regions have restricted learning possibilities. But today, things have changed.

History of the North and South Divide

Ghana was the first African country to gain its independence from British colonial rule. Kwame Nkrumah led the country to independence on March 6, 1957, while he formed Pan-African organizations across the continent. Nkrumah led successful efforts to expand literacy in Ghana. His administration built and funded multiple schools across the southern regions. As a result, many southern regions have an educated population of young adults.

However, that was not the case in Northern Ghana. Sources indicate that the Nkrumah administrations neglected the northern regions’ educational system in the 1960s due to tribal-nationalist conflicts that emerged alongside the post-colonial governing efforts. As quoted by President Nkrumah’s critics, “We were hoping that when Ghana was independent the newly all-African Government would provide the North with all that was required to free the North from ignorance… [I]nstead this the Government dominated by Southerners, are doing all they can to keep the Northerners down so that they can use them as servants.” Since then, not many governments have made efforts to increase the quality of education in the northern regions.

For instance, the Sanguli schools in the northern region, founded in 1961, had 500 students with only four teachers. The school’s quality and infrastructure were reported to include “inadequate infrastructure, insufficient teaching staff and lack of information, communication technology, ICT laboratories, as well as libraries.” As a result, the poverty rate has remained alarmingly high, according to concerned residents.

Lack of resources and budgets has also resulted in poor educational settings — students were forced to sit on the floor, potholes inside the classroom had issued health and safety concerns and parents reported students experiencing forced labor in teachers’ farms in exchange for school fees.

2017 and Beyond

Things took a turn in 2017 as Ghana’s current president Akufo-Addo ensured that all regions will have newly constructed schools and supplies. “There will be no admission fees, no library fees … no examination fees…. There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals.” You can learn more about recent reforms for education in Ghana here.

U.S.-founded Millenium Change Corporation (MCC) has funded over $9 million for Ghana’s educational sector. This includes money for the construction of 221 schools in Northern and Southern Ghana. Furthermore, since 2007, MCC has made groundbreaking “investments in education infrastructure [which] would lead to improved school access. Improved school outcomes would lead to poverty reduction through economic growth.”

Today, Ghana has one of the highest investments in education with “30% of the government budget on the educational sector” and 11% of the country’s GDP invested in public schools. Because of the increased educational infrastructure, young students like Odartei can feel confident that Ghana can carry their future dreams.

– Ayesha Swaray 
Photo: Flickr

Girls’ Education in Ghana
There are many barriers to equality in education in Ghana ranging from poverty to negative cultural perceptions surrounding girls’ education, to a lack of nearby schools. But despite these barriers, girls’ education in Ghana has seen improvement and continues to be an issue of importance in this developing nation. Here are five facts about girls’ education in Ghana that highlight victories and steps taken to fight this problem.

Five Facts About Girls’ Education in Ghana

  1. The positive changes in girls’ education in Ghana stem from governmental and nonprofit agencies working together. For example, in 1997, the government of Ghana created the Girls’ Education Unit in the Ministry of Education, which means every region and district has a Girls’ Education Officer. The Ministry of Education also partnered with UNICEF to develop and implement education strategies for girls.Furthermore, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) worked in Ghana from 2012-2016 in a joint effort with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF. This partnership saw real results, including that 889 district gender officers received training in guidance and counseling, 94,827 in-service teachers were trained and 28,056 teachers received math education and training.
  2. Since the early 2000s, girls have consistently enrolled in primary and secondary school at higher rates and closed the gender gap in school enrollment. In 2018, Ghana’s national primary gender parity index (GPI) is at 1.01 compared to 0.94 in 2004. This demonstrates an equality between girls and boys enrolled in school.This change was sparked when the Ministry of Education eliminated school fees for basic education (elementary and junior high school) nationwide in 2005 and established a capitation grant for all basic schools. The grant also effectively reduced the barrier that poverty presented to education.
  3. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has greatly impacted girls’ education in Ghana. For example, USAID has provided scholarships for 7,000 girls in Ghana and 300 of the recipients have special needs and has aided in school construction and rehabilitation in 48 districts across the country.This was made possible through community programs that train volunteers to teach in high-need schools and partnerships with the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service. Currently, USAID’s education objective in Ghana is to improve reading performance for 2.8 million Ghanaian primary school children by 2020.
  4. The Education Strategic Plan (ESP) 2018-2030 is currently being finalized by the government of Ghana and is focused on an inclusive education system that is accessible and equal for all. Its main goal is to use education to improve the national development agenda and make sure it has a positive impact on development.This is the sixth plan in the series and gets its foundation from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Sustainable Development Goals and the National Development Plan 2016-2057. Other important priorities of the newest ESP include access, quality, relevance, effectiveness and sustainability.
  5. In September 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo made secondary education free for children in Ghana. This measure was much needed as only 37 percent of students were taking part in secondary school in 2014. The president’s promise removed admission fees, library fees, computer lab fees, examination fees and utility fees and included free textbooks, meals and boarding.

While it is still challenging for poor and rural families to attend school, these efforts to improve access to girls’ education in Ghana have been steps in the right direction.

– Alexandra Eppenauer
Photo: Flickr

Strengthening Women’s Education in Ghana
Several steps are being taken to strengthen women’s education in Ghana and to also narrow the gender gap in schools throughout the country. The country is very close to achieving gender equality in primary school enrollment, which is a significant milestone. Women’s access to education in Ghana past primary school, however, still has room for improvement.

Different approaches are being enacted to promote empowerment and women’s education in Ghana. While some approaches are traditional and in correlation with poverty reduction and Millenium Development Goals, others are led by individuals and women trying to make a difference in their own communities.

One such individual is Adeline Nyabu. Nyabu created the Girls Empowerment League, aiming to increase attendance and boost the academic performance of young girls. This league connects girls to female role models and teaches leadership, passion for education and achievement, and shows the realistic and positive outcomes for a woman who completes continuing education. In addition, the program is designed to boost the self-esteem, confidence, aspirations, determination and self-worth of girls in an unequal society.

Another program in place is the Campaign for Female Education. This program partners with MasterCard to provide scholarships to pay for examination registration fees, uniform costs, educational materials and financial packages for girls in rural communities in Ghana. Since 2012, more than 4,000 girls have been awarded the scholarship to continue their education and are equipped to become influential leaders and scholars, in hopes that they will pave the way and be role models for other girls in situations that seem impossible to get out of.

A traditional approach to improving women’s education in Ghana and narrowing the educational gender gap throughout the country is through the Girls Education Unit (GEU), part of the Ghana Education Service under the Ministry of Education. Since its establishment in 1997, GEU has made it possible to have a Girls Education Officer in every district and region of the country.

The Ministry of Education also provides training for female teachers in male-dominated rural areas and promotes girls’ clubs and camps teaching empowerment, self-worth, leadership and teamwork in a female-dominated environment.

These initiatives and programs have resulted in progress towards the goal to increase women’s education in Ghana, created greater access for girls and narrowed the gender gap within schools. Enrollment in both primary and secondary education has increased by around 10 percent, with a significantly greater increase in enrollment for girls. As a result, Ghana’s gender parity index has improved from 0.93 to 0.95. The country can continue to build on this success to achieve complete gender parity and empower its women and girls to reach their full potential.

– Lydia Lamm

Photo: Flickr

educational reform in Ghana

In 1993, the Republic of Ghana established the Ministry of Education to provide easier educational access to Ghanaian citizens. The ministry focuses on academic, technical and vocational programs. The Ministry of Education also concentrates on infrastructure, the refurbishing of schools and bringing in newly trained teachers and academic scholars.

Seven years later, in 2000, Ghana incorporated a new educational reform program, called the Ghana Education Trust Fund. The fund was installed to provide quality education from basic (elementary) schooling to tertiary (college; trade schools).

Educational reform in Ghana finally began with Ghana’s Vision 2020 Act, which started in 1996. The plan was broken down into four parts: The First Step (1996-2000), Ghana Poverty and Reduction Strategy (2003-2005), Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (2006-2009) and the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (2010-2013).

The 2020 date was set to give the Ghanaian government enough time to accomplish all of its goals, with hopes that the government will go above and beyond to exceed all of its expectations in time. Ghana finished the project in 2015, accomplishing a great deal five years before the deadline.

Education has been free for primary school (elementary) and middle school. However, high school was optional, with most high schools being privately owned, making it difficult for many families to afford higher education for their children and causing students to drop out at a young age.

In 2014, Ghana’s president partnered with the World Bank to announce a new project called the Ghana Secondary Education Improvement Project, which launched free public education at the high school level in 2017, giving children a chance to stay in school to further their education in the hope that free education will lower the dropout rate in Ghana.

The financing provides $156 million over five years, between 2014 and 2019. The plan will help the Ghanaian government improve its educational reform plan, provide educational access to underserved children, improve the quality of education and provide technical assistance. Students and teenagers are welcoming educational reform in Ghana and the chance to attend free higher-level educational institutions, and are hopeful that this program will give them the opportunity for a better life not only for themselves, but for their families too.

Promoting educational reform in Ghana will not only provide children with better academic opportunities and skills, but will also help fight against child labor. Although Ghana has set up many laws and acts against child labor, such as the Child Protection Compact and the Worst Forms of Labor acts, many children still find themselves forced into harsh labor conditions rather than attending school and receiving a proper education.

The Child Labor Coalition website tells a story of a young boy whose father sold him to human traffickers because there was no money for his education. Lake Volta, the area the child was sold into, is known for forced child labor and actively ignoring Ghana’s current laws against such dreadful circumstances. The children are usually made to work anywhere between 10-20 hours per day, are terribly abused and fed very little.

As terrifying as this is, educational reform in Ghana is the key to a brighter future for these children. It is the answer to ending child labor and lowering dropout rates. Ensuring that Ghanaian children are provided with more opportunities and prospects will allow the country of Ghana to flourish, keeping children and their families happier and healthier while providing a safer environment for all of Ghana.

– Rebecca Lee

Photo: Flickr