A brief introduction to the education system in Ghana
A basic education, which is primarily provided by public schools, is mandatory in Ghana. However, as there is a lack of public schools, the school education is supported by privately run schools. These receive a little bit of funding from the respective districts, but the majority of the fees need to be covered by the parents. Many families are not able to afford this. Generally, parents have to pay for the commute to school, school materials, food and the uniform. The uniform must we worn by every student and varies between schools.
The school education starts in Kindergarten which is similar to the German preschool. The kids start preschool at the age of 2 years. Here they learn numbers and letters. Once the children have learned these, they can start visiting Primary School where they usually stay for about 6 years. The subjects are similar to the topics taught in grades 1-7 in Germany.
After Primary School the students visit Junior High School. This is roughly the equivalent of the German “Mittelstufe”. After that the students have two options: they can either start an apprenticeship or visit the Senior Secondary School. The Senior Secondary School takes another three years. After graduating the students are qualified to study at a university or nevertheless start an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships primarily take place within a company. Some companies are connected to a vocational school where the apprentices’ knowledge is deepened. In most cases the foreman decides when the apprentice his ready for his or her final examination. Usually this is the case after 2 to 3 years.
Exams are also part of the education in Ghana. However, unlike German exams these usually take place in the last weeks before the long vacation. The students must pass these exams to be admitted to the next higher grade in the next school year.
The certificate presentation at the end of the year is a lot more spectacular than in Germany. The school organizes a small celebration with music and dancing. The students can participate by contributing a small performance such as a traditional dance. On this day the kids are allowed to come to school in their private clothing, usually their Sunday clothes.
The daily routine varies between schools. However, there are a few common aspects that differ from most German schools. In most schools there is a morning and closing roll call and a weakly school service or mass. PE classes in primary school do not take place in form of a lesson but rather of a sports day. During this day the students play various games and take part in small competitions. In the higher grades the schools have normal PE classes and also offer school teams (e.g. soccer) that compete with other schools.
Schools are closed on public holidays. In addition, the kids have holidays after the exams as well as during Easter and Christmas time.
During the holidays many schools offer voluntary classes called “Summer Classes”.
The training of teachers in Ghana is not regulated uniformly. There is no university course like we have in Germany. The training takes 3 years but varies strongly. Ghanaian schools make discipline and order a top priority. For the students this is however often not that easy. Being punctual is a major challenge for many students, as especially girls often need to take care of younger siblings or various chores around the house, which prevents them from being on time for school. After school many students have to sell things on the street, often at the expense of time for homework or sleep.
In many cases teachers use a stick as a disciplinary measure. Although it is officially prohibited to hit children, there are not enough resources to enforce this rule.
The students are very eager to learn and usually excited about everything they are allowed to learn. Classes often suffer from the lack of financial resources. Be it the ability to purchase adequate materials or to pay a sufficient wage to teachers. Teaching is not a well payed job in Ghana and not being able to pay teachers adequately results in teachers struggling to make a living off of their job. This in turn understandably limits their motivation to teach properly, ultimately compromising the quality of classes.
Through our organization we want to ensure that equipment is available and adequately used. In addition, we want to contribute to a better learning environment by improving and properly equipping the buildings. You can contribute to this as well!