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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
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 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 Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
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 US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of 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.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs