Introduction to education

An overview of the Ghanaian system

Introduction to education

Ghana’s school system follows the British model. It is considered one of the best systems in West Africa, but it is still far away from equal standards across the country and lacks high standards of quality.

The educational system consists of two to three years of nursery school, six compulsory years of primary school as well as three compulsory years of junior high school. Having passed the Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E.) students can continue with three years of senior high school. The West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) at the end of the 12th grade allows students to attend universities and other tertiary education institutions.

During the compulsory years, that are free of charge, the main subjects taught are mathematics, science, social studies, cultural studies, Ghanaian languages, English, agriculture, life skills and physical education. Besides the primary years, where classes may be taught in a local language, the official language at school is English. Often an additional language is taught. This will usually be French, but it may also be a different one (e.g. a local language).

Senior high school is not compulsory but still subsidised by the government. Unfortunately many teenagers cannot afford to go to senior high schools because they need to start working instead. Basically you can choose between four different streams: general-, vocational-, technical- and agricultural education. The vocational education and the technical education consist of a theoretical part in the classroom as well as on-the-job training. Apart from the special subjects there are compulsory subjects during the first two years. Those are mathematics, computer studies, general science, social studies and English.

With a literacy rate of 67,3% (2010) of people aged 15 or older Ghana is not performing very well. Even in comparison to other (poorer) African countries. A huge problem is the fact that around one million children at the age you would normally attend school cannot, because they have to work for their families. Although schooling itself is free many families cannot afford uniforms and books.

Moreover, there is a huge connection between the fee for a school and its quality. Public schools are free of charge but often overcrowded. The problem rises even more as the population of Ghana is growing rapidly. If a family can afford it, they will send their children to private schools. Other inequalities are disparities between the south and the worse performing north, as well as gender inequalities.

Further reading

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