News / Africa

Ghana Lauded for Free Primary School Program

In Ghana, primary school enrollment has been boosted by the elimination of fees and the introduction of supportive social programs. Today, over 90 percent of all children aged six to 12 [or nearly 3.2 million] attend primary school. But development specialists say they’re still concerned about the quality and number of teachers available for the schools.

Multimedia

Audio
Joana Mantey
This is Part 3 of a 12-part series:  Education in Africa
Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /
6 / 7/ 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 /12

In Ghana, primary education is free, and in recent years, more students have been enrolled.

Fees were abolished in public schools seven years ago when the government introduced yearly grants of about $2.50 for each pupil.

The funding covers the cost of learning materials, sanitation and sports equipment, and minor school repairs.

Primary school students at Akebubu, Ghana.
Primary school students at Akebubu, Ghana.

Kofi Asare is the executive director of the NGO Action for Rural Education and a former national program officer for the Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition.

He says the government has also introduced other forms of support for school children.

“They include the free school feeding program where each child is entitled to a square meal a day in school," he expalined. "It is currently on-going and involves about one million children out of the 7.5 million children in basic [including primary] schools. Though it covers barely 10 percent of the population of pupils, it has made significant impact in rural areas where issues of nutrition affect school enrolment and retention.”

Success brings new challenges

Despite these successes, there are also drawbacks.

Asare says school administrators complain of staff shortages.

“There is a deficit of 20,000 teachers," said Asare, "which has caused some 15,000 classrooms to be empty. In some cases, you have to merge classes one to three for one teacher to handle.”

Asare says it’s also difficult to recruit – and retain – instructors.

Part of the problem, he says, may be due to low pay: The average primary school teacher earns about 300 dollars per month.  As a result, Asare says many teachers who go on paid study leave refuse to return to the classrooms. And, he says only about half of the nearly 4,000 teachers who receive advanced training each year return to work.

Many teachers prefer to stay in urban areas, depriving children in rural areas of the right to an education. In comparison, he says that three years ago, it was reported that over 550 teachers in and around the capital Accra were underemployed due to the excess number of instructors.

He also says the growing number of students has led to the hiring of many teachers who are not qualified. Currently, 38 percent of primary school teachers have not been trained.

Asare says these challenges have had a negative impact on the performance of pupils in basic schools, which include nursery school, kindergarten and primary school.

“Standards have been compromised hugely in the past 10 to 15 years," he asserts. "Available data from the National Educational Assessment suggests that less than 40 per cent of pupils in basic schools are proficient in English and math, and that is a worrying scenario.”

As a result, Asare said, many pupils fail to qualify for senior high school.

Improved training, accountability

Asare says action is being taken.

In 2006, the government and foreign donors including Great Britain’s Department for International Development introduced the Untrained Teacher Training Diploma in Basic Education program, a four-year effort to help 25,000 teachers obtain diplomas in basic education. Funding shortages have delayed the start of the second phase.

Asare says the problem could be eased by cancelling paid leave for teachers, which costs nearly $9 million per year.He also recommends an increased allowance for rural teachers and improved supervision of teaching and learning in primary schools.

Ghana spends over 10 percent of its gross domestic product and 31 percent of its budget on education. Asare says school administrators must protect that investment by eliminating waste and mismanagement.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs