At the time of independence in 1957, Ghana had only one university and a handful of secondary and primary schools. In the past decade, Ghana’s spending on education has been between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of its annual budget
Presently, Ghana has 18,530 primary schools, 8,850 junior secondary schools, 900 senior secondary schools, 28 training colleges, 20 technical institutions, four diploma-awarding institutions, six public universities and over 15 private universities in addiction to 12 polytechnics serving a population 30 million Ghanaians.
A new Education Plan was finalised in 2007 and the aim is to provide universal free primary education by 2015 in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to primary and secondary education.
However, the government is supporting public schools with school fees, uniforms and free school feeding programs.
The sole official language of instruction throughout the Ghanaian educational system is English. Students may study in any of eleven local languages for much of the first three years, after which English becomes the norm. Students continue to study a local language and French as classroom subjects through at least the ninth grade. All textbooks and materials are in English.
Basic Education is now 11 years made up of 2 years of Kindergarten, 6 years of Primary School, and 3 years of Junior High School (JHS). After JHS, students may choose to go into different streams at Senior High School (SHS), comprising General Education and Technical, Vocational and Agricultural and Training (TVET) or enter into an apprenticeship scheme with some support from the Government.
Senior Secondary education
After basic school, pupils may enter senior high (or technical/vocational) schools for a three-year course, which prepare them for university education. Students usually study a combination of three (in some cases, four) ‘elective’ subjects and a number of core subjects. For example, a science student could study Elective Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Physics as his ‘elective’ subjects. An arts student might study Geography, Economics and Literature as his elective subjects. In addition to the elective subjects, there are ‘core’ subjects, which are those studied by all students in addition to their ‘electives’. The ‘core’ subjects include Mathematics, English and Science.
At the end of the three year senior secondary course, students are required to sit for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE). Students who obtain aggregate 36 or better (six subjects) can enter the university. Usually, the score is determined by aggregating the student’s grades in his elective subjects. The aggregate score is then added to the aggregate score of his best ‘core’ subjects, with scores in English and Mathematics considered first.
So if an arts student scores ‘A1’ in Geography, ‘B2’ in Literature and ‘B3’ in Economics, he’d obtain an aggregate score of 6 for his electives (i.e. A1=1; B2=2 & B3=3…F9 (fail)=9). His best core subjects are then added. If he obtains ‘B2’ in English, ‘B3’ in Mathematics and ‘A1’ in Social Studies, his best ‘core’ aggregate will be six. Therefore, his overall aggregate score will be 12 and he qualifies for admission into a university. Once again, an overall aggregate score of six is best.
Entrance to universities is by examination following completion of senior high school.
Ghana’s tertiary institutions enroll over 100,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, certificate and diploma programs in a full range of academic and professional fields. The public universities are:
- University of Ghana at Legon, Accra.
- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.
- University of Cape Coast.
- University of Education at Winneba.
- University of Development Studies, Tamale.
- Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration/Greenhill College, Accra
Twenty-one private institutions are also accredited by the National Accreditation Board to award Bachelor’s degrees. Their enrollment totals less than 5,000, but they are expected to become a recognized force during the next decade. Ten public polytechnics offer three-year Higher National Diplomas in applied business and technology fields. The HND is not equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree, but undergraduate transfer credit can be awarded, as is also the case for Teacher Training Colleges and other tertiary non-degree programs.
Ghanaian university admission is highly competitive, especially in fields such as medicine, engineering, law, and pharmacy. The quality of education is considered reasonably high, evidence that human resources are more significant than material resources. In an effort to attract international enrollment, all Ghanaian universities operate on a modular, semester system. Pass grade is C6 or better. School enrolment is 98% totaling over 2 million.