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Preprimary & Primary Education

Preprimary Education: Historically, formal education at the preschool level was not common on the Gold Coast. The inclusion of kindergarten facilities at the Prince of Wales School (Achimota) in the late 1920s as part of the formal education system was therefore innovative. While educators see advantages in kindergarten education for children, there is no formal mandate for the provision of preschool prior to beginning the first grade of primary education. However, some public facilities are available, as well as private nurseries and day care centers, but they have not spread to the rural communities, where close to 70 percent of the nation's population resides. According to The Education for All Year: 2000 Assessment for UNESCO, there was a rapid increase in establishing Early Childhood Education establishments in the form of nursery schools and day care centers since 1993. In 1996, there were 5,441 public kindergartens and 3,742 registered private preschool establishments. In 1997, more than 427,000 preschool children were enrolled in public kindergartens, while about 156,000 pupils attended the private preschools. It is important to note that since kindergarten and day care attendance has not been absorbed into the basic education system, it is therefore neither free nor compulsory.

Primary Education: Ministry of Education sources reported more than 2.65 million pupils enrolled in the primary school system in Ghana for the year 1999. The number represented 79.4 percent of the gross possible enrollment for the same year—approximately 3.4 million children of possible primary school age were projected. Observers therefore felt that Ghana would have difficulty reaching its goal of universal primary education from the year 2000 to 2005.

Although the 1951 Accelerated Plan declared the first circle of education to be free and compulsory, some minimal fees were introduced in the 1980s to meet textbook costs. Also, even though the Education Act of 1961 called for universal primary education, this goal has not been met due to the harsh economic realities of the past decades. Despite such problems, all children in Ghana are entitled to primary education and all primary schools in the country are also organized as coeducational institutions. In fact, the female student population of the primary schools has remained at the 40th percentile since the 1970s. It is also important to mention that the number of female teachers in the general education system is highest at the primary level—ranging from 27 percent of the teaching staff in 1970 to 34 percent in 1995.

Though English is the official national language of business, the local vernaculars are used for instruction during the early years of primary education. English, which is taught as a foreign language, rapidly assumes greater use by the third grade of education. This is particularly so because of the diverse linguistic character of both students and teachers. The curriculum at the primary level stresses reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. Sports, agriculture, arts and crafts, and civic education are also part of the primary school curriculum. Upon completing primary education in sixth grade, students enter the Junior Secondary School (JSS) in the seventh grade. JSS admission is based on student performance on curriculum-based examinations and not on any standardized national test. In February 2001, Ghanaian newspaper reports commented on parental concerns about the poor performance of primary school students, especially in mathematics, as reflected by scores on the occasional Performance Monitoring Test. This led to calls for an extension of the academic year. Others have asked that teachers be allowed more authority to discipline pupils as a way of improving performance. No consensus had been reached on the issue by mid-2001.

Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceGhana - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education