As Ghana grows, so too does the number of schools in the country. The year 2017 marked an increase in the number of kindergartens and primary schools by 5.4%, while junior and senior high schools jumped up by 7% YoY.
To encourage enrollment, the government is aiming to absorb 100% of fees for all students applying for a Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). In 2017, the state was able to cover 70% of the fees for all registered candidates. Meanwhile, the implementation of free universal senior high school continues to be rolled out, giving more than 400,000 families in Ghana greater financial freedom. According to Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta, the education sector's capitation grant was increased by 100% to GHS9 per capita, in “fulfillment of the government's promise to make basic education free and ensure participation by all.” Now in its fourth cycle, the complementary basic education program (CBE) is operational in 43 districts of the Northern, Brong Ahafo, and Ashanti regions, with plans to expand to 14 more districts—benefiting an estimated 40,000 additional out-of-school children—in 2018.
Following the annual budget announcements in late 2017, the Ministry of Education received permission from the Ministry of Finance to replace, recruit, and reappoint 22,802 teaching and non-teaching staff for the upcoming school year.
Other policy interventions for 2018 include the completion of curriculum reforms, which will help to establish national standards in literacy, mathematics, and creativity. In addition, the Ministry of Education is working to implement common National Assesment System to measure student achievement against set benchmarks, to be launched during 2018-2019.
Of the six policy initiatives introduced by the Ghanaian government for 2018, the Voluntary Education Fund is set to make the largest impact on the sector. According to local media, the fund will enable Ghanaians who are capable to make voluntary contributions to support education at large.
Meanwhile, the government is set to increase the budget for teacher training to cover the expenses of thousands of trainees from 41 public education institutions for the 2017-2018 academic year. “A projected 52,000 trainees will benefit from the this allowance,” Finance Minister Ofori-Atta noted in a press release.
In a cross-sectoral move, the Ministry of Communication launched talks with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to lift the nationwide ban of mobile phone use among students. In collaboration with its stakeholders, the Ministry of Communication is working to provide mobile phones that could store school syllabi and other learning materials that could enable students through innovative learning channels.
The year 2018 will also mark the beginning of the Ministry of Education's work toward building the infrastructure for a basic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program in all schools. Minister Ofori-Atta emphasized that the initiative is intended not only to strengthen foundational skills, but also generate wider interest in the subjects. The program is expected to require new equipment and training for over 38,000 public basic schools and teachers, as well as the establishment of 10 well-equipped regional centers that would act as coordinators for the program.
Nonetheless, according to research conducted by the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research (ISSER), only 10% of the country's graduates find employment in the years following graduation. For some students, it takes more than 10 years to secure a career. To address this challenge, the government has announced the creation of a Nation Builders' Corps (NBC) in 2018, an entity that will employ at least 100,000 graduates over the short term.
The lack of capacity at some major universities also presents obstacles for the Ghanaian education sector. In an interview with TBY, Professor Jarvis of Provost University of Lancaster Ghana explained, “The University of Ghana turned away 25,000 highly qualified candidates because of a lack of capacity,” largely due to a shortage in terms of funding. “The willingness to fund secondary education in Ghana is lacking. There is a huge demand for infrastructural investment in education; the question is how we go about securing it,” he concluded. ✖