While elementary and middle schools have been free and compulsory, as many as 100,000 students each year couldn’t transition to secondary school because their families could not afford the fees. But in 2017, Ghana struck another blow to inequity by instituting tuition-free senior high school.
As elsewhere, Ghanaian children still can experience unequal education, from gender gaps in school completion rates in upper grades to poorer outcomes in rural areas to income and ethnic disparities.
To address these inequities, GPE, the World Bank and FCDO helped create a program in 2020 to improve education quality in low-performing basic education schools and strengthen equity and accountability throughout the school system.
GPE’s US$24.4 million grant is supporting efforts by the Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Program (GALOP) to revamp the curriculum, establish an innovative performance dashboard, and use technology to monitor student progress in 10,000 schools - half of all primary schools. Ghana is also trying to close the equity gap by eliminating fees for academic support for students who are struggling.
Reimagining teacher training
Getting all children into classrooms is only the first step. Its teaching force is the key to getting children to actually learn.
In Ghana, many teachers are unqualified to teach, with 41% of male and 28% of female teachers lacking formal qualifications or teaching with sub-standard qualifications in 2016. That year, the government launched the GPE-financed Teaching Service Commission to recruit, develop and manage the country’s teachers.
GPE also supported the development of the innovative Untrained Teachers Diploma in Basic Education program. Nearly 8,000 young teachers from disadvantaged districts are trained during holidays and over three summers, allowing them to keep teaching during the school year.
Moreover, to raise teaching standards, the government has mandated that all teachers have a four-year bachelor’s degree and be licensed by the Ministry of Education. It is also upgrading its colleges of education.
With GPE’s support, which includes bringing on new financing partners to contribute to Ghana’s education system, and a government committed to scaling up reforms, lasting change can be achieved.