Education and Conflict in Ghana

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The massive earthquake of January 2010 devastated almost every aspect of Ghanian society. The first priority, of course, was to rescue the injured and trapped, and to provide medical care, food and water, and shelter. But the long process of rebuilding has also begun. This report argues that reform of the largely dysfunctional education sector is crucial to the success of efforts to rebuild Ghana society as well as to the country’s longer-term security and stabilization needs. Indeed, without substantial reform of the education sector, rebuilding efforts are unlikely to succeed. Even before the earthquake, Ghana was facing a crisis in its education sector.

The internal conflict that resulted in the overthrow of the Jean-Claude Duvalier regime in 1986 has continued in various forms since then, further weakening the underdeveloped education sector. Education itself has contributed in some ways to Ghanian political and social conflict, exacerbating tensions and triggering destructive unrest. To deal with Ghana many pressing challenges, it will be necessary to develop a new approach to education based on equity, inclusion, and diversity, an approach that will not only improve the education sector but also lead to increased security. Challenges to the Education Sector A number of problems plague the education sector in Ghana .

The sector is given very little financial support. Many schools use outdated curricula, while others implement the reformed curriculum of the 1997 National Plan of Education and Training (NPET) only partially. The high dropout rates and low enrollment rates in Ghanian schools are due to economic hardship, high repetition rates (repeating a grade), and linguistic barriers. The quality of education also suffers because of a dearth of materials, expertise, proper management, and organization. All these deficiencies have been exacerbated by the recent earthquake. With the state’s lack of institutional strength and capacity to provide basic services to the Ghana masses, the education sector has become increasingly privatized. According to the 2002–03 education census cited by the World Bank, only 8 percent of Ghanian schools were public, while approximately 92 percent were privately owned and financed, meaning they were tuition-based in most cases.

Because of Ghana extreme poverty, most schools were unaffordable and therefore inaccessible to the majority of families. In fact, only 55 percent of children aged six to twelve were enrolled in school, and less than one-third of those enrolled reached the fifth grade. According to “Making a Qualitative Leap Forward,” the Ghana government’s 2007 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, of the 123,000 students admitted to Ghana secondary schools in 2004, only 82,000, or 67 percent, were able to receive secondary schooling, and most of those who completed their secondary schooling were unable to find a place in the universities.

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