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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid