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Ghana-The Education System

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Ghana Index

The country's education system at the beginning of the 1993-94 academic year comprised primary schools, junior secondary schools, senior secondary schools, polytechnic (technical and vocational) institutions, teacher training colleges, and university-level institutions.

In 1990-91, the latest year for which preliminary government statistics were available, 1.8 million pupils were attending more than 9,300 primary schools; 609,000 students were enrolled in about 5,200 junior secondary schools; and 200,000 students were enrolled in some 250 senior secondary schools (see table 5, Appendix). In the mid-1980s, teachers on each of these levels numbered approximately 51,000, 25,000, and 8,800, respectively. In addition, 1989-90 enrollment in Ghana's approximately twenty-six polytechnic schools totalled almost 11,500 students; the teacher corps for these schools numbered 422. Education is free, although students have recently begun to pay textbook fees. The Education Act of 1960 foresaw universal education, but the constraints of economic underdevelopment meant that by the early 1990s this goal had not been realized. On the primary level, instruction is conducted in the local vernacular, although English is taught as a second language. Beyond primary school, however, English is the medium of instruction in an education system that owes much to British models.

Before the introduction of reforms in the mid-1980s, students at what was then the middle-school level took either the Middle School Leaving Certificate Examination and terminated their studies, or, at any time from seventh to tenth grade, the Common Entrance Examination, which admitted them to secondary or technical study. With the traditional six years of primary education, four years of middle schooling, and a seven-year secondary education (five years of preparation toward the Ordinary Level Certificate and two years of Advanced Level training) before entering degreegranting institutions, the average age of the first-year university student in Ghana was often about twenty-five.

Most students, however, did not continue formal instruction after the first ten years of education. Of the 145,400 students completing middle school in 1960, for example, only 14,000 sought secondary education. In 1970 only 9,300 of the more than 424,500 leaving middle school were admitted into secondary schools. Ministry of Education data for the 1984-85 academic year showed that of the 1.8 million students completing ten years of primary and middle schooling, only 125,600 continued into secondary schools, while fewer than 20,000 entered vocational and technical institutions. That same year, approximately 7,900 students were enrolled in the universities.

Although the government provides free tuition to all children of school age, and notwithstanding the fact that schools can be found all across the country, 1989-90 government statistics showed that more males continued to be enrolled in schools than females. In the first six grades of the educational system, only 45 percent of the students enrolled were female. The percentage of females in the school system decreased to 33 percent at the secondary school level, to 27 percent in polytechnical institutions, and to as low as 19 percent within the universities. Disparities in the malefemale ratios found in the schools had not improved significantly by 1990-91. The emphasis on male education doubtless reflects traditional social values, which view the reproductive abilities of women as their primary role in life, while men are valued as breadwinners and, therefore, in need of education to compete in the contemporary economy (see The Position of Women , this ch.).

Despite a number of committee reports and proposals for educational reform, until mid-1980 the education system continued to place emphasis on traditional academic studies. Proponents of reform argued that the country's development needs required an education system that, beginning at the middle-school level, placed equal emphasis on training students in vocational and technical skills. It was further suggested that reforms could contribute to reducing the number of students who dropped out of school for lack of interest in traditional academic studies.

Partly as a result of earlier proposals for reform and partly in keeping with the government's economic reform program, fundamental change in the educational structure of the country was undertaken in the mid-1980s. The overall goals were to make curricula at all levels more relevant to the economic needs of the country, to reduce the length of pre-university instruction, and to improve the quality of teacher preparation. Increased enrollment in primary schools and a reduction in the rate of illiteracy were also to be pursued. The reforms were to be implemented in two phases: those for primary and middle schools were to be introduced in 1987- 89, and those for secondary schools and the universities, in 1990- 93.

The much-discussed changes in education became a reality in 1987 when all seventh-level students, who otherwise would have entered the traditional first year of middle school, were instead admitted into new junior secondary schools (JSS) to begin a threeyear combined training program in vocational, technical, and academic studies. The JSS system was a radical change in the structure of education in the country. It replaced the four-year middle school and the first three years of the traditional fiveyear secondary school system. After three years at the JSS, three years further training would be available in senior secondary schools (SSS), after which students could enter polytechnic institutions or the universities.

Pioneers in the JSS system sat for the first Basic Certificate of Education Examination in 1990. In this same year, seniors of the old middle-school system took the last Middle School Leaving Certificate Examination. Supporters of the JSS argued that the system would attract more students into technical, vocational, business, and agricultural institutions. It was also suggested that those students who did not gain admission into the SSS would be better equipped to enter the job market. Results of the first SSS certificate examination, announced in May 1994, however, showed that only 3.9 percent of students received passing marks. This poor showing was attributed to lack of textbooks, equipment, and trained teachers, and to inadequate time to prepare for the examination. Despite loud protests from students and parents, reform of the education system remained on course.

In addition to revamping middle-school education, changes were also introduced on all other educational levels. Fees for textbooks and supplies were instituted, primary curricula were revised, and food and housing subsidies were reduced or eliminated in secondary schools and the universities. In the early 1990s, however, the government appeared to be moving slowly in implementing further proposed reforms, such as new curricula in secondary schools and restructuring of the universities.

In the early 1990s, higher education was available at three institutions--the University of Ghana (located principally at Legon outside Accra), founded in 1948 as the University College of the Gold Coast; the University of Science and Technology at Kumasi, opened officially in 1952 as the Kumasi College of Technology; and the University of Cape Coast at Cape Coast, founded in 1961. In 1989-90 enrollment at all three institutions totalled 9,251, of whom 19 percent were female. In addition, large numbers of Ghanaians went abroad for university education, as they had in the past.

In anticipation that the new JSS and SSS structures would increase the number of students seeking advanced technical training, two more universities were proposed. The specialist institutions or colleges at Winneba, which offered post-secondary teacher training in such subjects as art, music, and physical education, were to be upgraded into an independent university college or were to be given associate relations with the University of Cape Coast. In September 1993, the University of Development Studies at Tamale opened. Designed initially to train agricultural specialists, it will eventually also offer degrees in health and development studies.

Data as of November 1994

BackgroundFormed from the merger of the British colony of the Gold Coast and the Togoland trust territory, Ghana in 1957 became the first sub-Saharan country in colonial Africa to gain its independence. Ghana endured a long series of coups before Lt. Jerry RAWLINGS took power in 1981 and banned political parties. After approving a new constitution and restoring multiparty politics in 1992, RAWLINGS won presidential elections in 1992 and 1996, but was constitutionally prevented from running for a third term in 2000. John KUFUOR succeeded him and was reelected in 2004. John Atta MILLS took over as head of state in early 2009.
LocationWestern Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Cote d'Ivoire and Togo
Area(sq km)total: 238,533 sq km
land: 227,533 sq km
water: 11,000 sq km
Geographic coordinates8 00 N, 2 00 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 2,094 km
border countries: Burkina Faso 549 km, Cote d'Ivoire 668 km, Togo 877 km

Coastline(km)539 km

Climatetropical; warm and comparatively dry along southeast coast; hot and humid in southwest; hot and dry in north

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mount Afadjato 880 m
Natural resourcesgold, timber, industrial diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish, rubber, hydropower, petroleum, silver, salt, limestone
Land use(%)arable land: 17.54%
permanent crops: 9.22%
other: 73.24% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)310 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)53.2 cu km (2001)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.98 cu km/yr (24%/10%/66%)
per capita: 44 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsdry, dusty, northeastern harmattan winds occur from January to March; droughts
Environment - current issuesrecurrent drought in north severely affects agricultural activities; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; poaching and habitat destruction threatens wildlife populations; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography - noteLake Volta is the world's largest artificial lake
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 37.3% (male 4,503,331/female 4,393,104)
15-64 years: 59.1% (male 7,039,696/female 7,042,208)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 393,364/female 460,792) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 20.7 years
male: 20.5 years
female: 21 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.882% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)28.58 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)9.24 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-0.53 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 50% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 51.09 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 55.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.74 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 59.85 years
male: 58.98 years
female: 60.75 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)3.68 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Ghanaian(s)
adjective: Ghanaian
Ethnic groups(%)Akan 45.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7%, Ga-Dangme 7.3%, Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Grusi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other 7.8% (2000 census)

Religions(%)Christian 68.8% (Pentecostal/Charismatic 24.1%, Protestant 18.6%, Catholic 15.1%, other 11%), Muslim 15.9%, traditional 8.5%, other 0.7%, none 6.1% (2000 census)
Languages(%)Asante 14.8%, Ewe 12.7%, Fante 9.9%, Boron (Brong) 4.6%, Dagomba 4.3%, Dangme 4.3%, Dagarte (Dagaba) 3.7%, Akyem 3.4%, Ga 3.4%, Akuapem 2.9%, other 36.1% (includes English (official)) (2000 census)

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Ghana
conventional short form: Ghana
former: Gold Coast
Government typeconstitutional democracy
Capitalname: Accra
geographic coordinates: 5 33 N, 0 13 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions10 regions; Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta, Western
Constitutionapproved 28 April 1992

Legal systembased on English common law and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President John Evans Atta MILLS (since 7 January 2009); Vice President John Dramani MAHAMA (since 7 January 2009); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President John Evans Atta MILLS (since 7 January 2009); Vice President John Dramani MAHAMA (since 7 January 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers; president nominates members subject to approval by Parliament
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second term); election last held 7 December 2008 with a second round held 28 December 2008 (next to be held 7 December 2012)
election results: John Evans Atta MILLS elected president in run-off election; percent of vote - John Evans Atta MILLS 50.23%, Nana Addo Dankwa AKUFO-ADDO 49.77%

Legislative branchunicameral Parliament (230 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 7 December 2008 (next to be held 7 December 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDC 114, NPP 107, PNC 2, CPP 1, independent 4, other 2

Judicial branchSupreme Court

Political pressure groups and leadersChristian Aid (water rights); Committee for Joint Action or CJA (education reform); National Coalition Against the Privatization of Water or CAP (water rights); Oxfam (water rights); Public Citizen (water rights); Students Coalition Against EPA [Kwabena Ososukene OKAI] (education reform); Third World Network (education reform)
Flag descriptionthree equal horizontal bands of red (top), yellow, and green, with a large black five-pointed star centered in the yellow band; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia; similar to the flag of Bolivia, which has a coat of arms centered in the yellow band

Economy - overviewWell endowed with natural resources, Ghana has roughly twice the per capita output of the poorest countries in West Africa. Even so, Ghana remains heavily dependent on international financial and technical assistance. Gold and cocoa production, and individual remittances, are major sources of foreign exchange. The domestic economy continues to revolve around agriculture, which accounts for about 35% of GDP and employs about 55% of the work force, mainly small landholders. Ghana signed a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact in 2006, which aims to assist in transforming Ghana's agricultural sector. Ghana opted for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) program in 2002, and is also benefiting from the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative that took effect in 2006. Thematic priorities under its current Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy, which also provides the framework for development partner assistance, are: macroeconomic stability; private sector competitiveness; human resource development; and good governance and civic responsibility. Sound macro-economic management along with high prices for gold and cocoa helped sustain GDP growth in 2008.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$34.52 billion (2008 est.)
$32.17 billion (2007 est.)
$30.27 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$16.65 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)7.3% (2008 est.)
6.3% (2007 est.)
6.4% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,500 (2008 est.)
$1,400 (2007 est.)
$1,300 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 37.3%
industry: 25.3%
services: 37.5% (2006 est.)
Labor force10.12 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 56%
industry: 15%
services: 29% (2005 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)11% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)28.5% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 32.8% (2006)
Distribution of family income - Gini index39.4 (2005-06)
40.7 (1999)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)32.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $5.256 billion
expenditures: $7.492 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)16.5% (2008 est.)
10.7% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$2.179 billion (31 December 2006)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$2.174 billion (31 December 2006)
Stock of domestic credit$4.179 billion (31 December 2006)
Market value of publicly traded shares$3.394 billion (31 December 2008)
$2.38 billion (31 December 2007)
$3.233 billion (31 December 2006)
Economic aid - recipient$1.316 billion in loans and grants (2007)

Public debt(% of GDP)53.8% of GDP (2008 est.)
58.5% of GDP (2007 est.)
Agriculture - productscocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), peanuts, corn, shea nuts, bananas; timber
Industriesmining, lumbering, light manufacturing, aluminum smelting, food processing, cement, small commercial ship building

Industrial production growth rate(%)8.1% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$3.471 billion (2008 est.)
-$1.717 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$5.275 billion (2008 est.)
$4.172 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)gold, cocoa, timber, tuna, bauxite, aluminum, manganese ore, diamonds, horticulture
Exports - partners(%)Netherlands 13.5%, Ukraine 11.8%, UK 8%, France 5.7%, US 5.2% (2008)
Imports$10.26 billion (2008 est.)
$8.066 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)capital equipment, petroleum, foodstuffs
Imports - partners(%)China 15.6%, Nigeria 14.7%, India 7.4%, US 5.5%, France 4.4%, UK 4.4% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.028 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$2.831 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$5.055 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$4.891 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$NA
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$NA
Exchange ratescedis (GHC) per US dollar - 1.1 (2008 est.), 0.95 (2007), 9,174.8 (2006), 9,072.5 (2005), 9,004.6 (2004)
note: in 2007 Ghana revalued its currency with 10,000 old cedis equal to 1 new cedis

Currency (code)Ghana cedi (GHC)

Telephones - main lines in use143,900 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular11.57 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: outdated and unreliable fixed-line infrastructure heavily concentrated in Accra; competition among multiple mobile-cellular providers has spurred growth with a subscribership of 50 per 100 persons and rising
domestic: primarily microwave radio relay; wireless local loop has been installed
international: country code - 233; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations - 4 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); microwave radio relay link to Panaftel system connects Ghana to its neighbors (2008)
Internet country code.gh
Internet users997,000 (2008)
Airports11 (2009)
Pipelines(km)oil 5 km; refined products 309 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 62,221 km
paved: 9,955 km
unpaved: 52,266 km (2006)

Ports and terminalsTema
Military branchesGhanaian Army, Ghanaian Navy, Ghanaian Air Force (2008)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2008)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 5,802,096
females age 16-49: 5,729,939 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 3,849,113
females age 16-49: 3,840,083 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 272,954
female: 266,186 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)0.8% of GDP (2006 est.)
Disputes - internationalGhana struggles to accommodate returning nationals who worked in the cocoa plantations and escaped fighting in Cote d'Ivoire

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 35,653 (Liberia); 8,517 (Togo) (2007)
Electricity - production(kWh)6.746 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 5%
hydro: 95%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)5.702 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)249 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)435 million kWh (2007 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)7,399 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)56,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)4,843 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)45,380 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)15 million bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)22.65 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)1.9% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS260,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths21,000 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: very high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: malaria
water contact disease: schistosomiasis
respiratory disease: meningococcal meningitis
animal contact disease: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 57.9%
male: 66.4%
female: 49.8% (2000 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 9 years
male: 10 years
female: 9 years (2007)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)5.4% of GDP (2005)

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