The perennial problem facing education in Ghana is the issue of funding. Since the early period when the Europeans opened the castle schools until the present, the question of how much financial support the dominant institutions should bear has been argued. In the 1750s, Rev. Thomas Thompson's school in Cape Coast raised funds from fees imposed on non-Sunday School attendance, but student fees were definitely part of his financial pool. When the Accelerated Education Plan of 1951 was put in place, the fact that the modern state would assume a large portion of the cost of education was seen as necessary. This was due to the fact that national development and the training of an educated population seem to go hand in hand. However, at the same time, the government tradition of making education free and compulsory and of bearing the cost of teacher training and salaries has created the impression that the government should continue to meet those responsibilities. Others have argued that, in a society such as Ghana, where a good portion of the population still faces economic difficulties, the idea of cost sharing in education is untimely.
Progress has, however, been made in Ghana's education development. The rapid expansion of schools under the free and compulsory policy was aimed at an ultimate provision of universal education. While this lofty goal has still not be attained, it is impressive to note that, according to 1999 figures, almost 80 percent of the approximately 3.4 million children of basic education age were actually attending school. Day care and kindergarten programs, while not widespread, are beginning to take shape in the early child education system.
Since the mid-1980s, much of the national attention has been focused on postprimary education, with a greater emphasis on the reformed JSS/SSS programs that reduced the traditional middle schooling and secondary education by four years. While all agree that a strong emphasis on practical training in science and on technical and vocational training is as important as the old system's traditional academic programs, critics have expressed concerns about the availability of appropriate facilities for all schools. As government funding is debated, and as the public questions the quality of available schools, more and more private JSS facilities are being opened as alternatives to public intermediate education. There is every indication that the trend will continue.
At the university level, the nation's five universities are still not able to adequately absorb all qualified applicants. There are efforts on the part of the major religious denominations to expand their tradition of providing schools to the establishment of universities. The success of those efforts means that the private sector will have entered a sphere in the educational system that was traditionally thought to belong strictly to the public sector. Of course that could make it possible for the public universities to impose higher fees to supplement operating costs. As of now, the government continues to bear the full cost of teacher training, and with a pupil-teacher ratio of almost 33:1 in 1996 (an increase of 13.5 percent since 1990), there is no doubt that more teachers need to be trained. Overall, the state bears more than 80 percent of the total cost of education, but the trend shows that parents and communities will be asked in the future to shoulder more of the cost if the nation's quality education system is to be sustained.
In 2001, the government approved the highest budget allocation to the educational sector. It explained this high amount by indicating that it wished to improve school facilities and support the development and maintenance of academic facilities, as well as to supplement funding for scholarship grants to gifted but needy students.
Apter, David. Ghana in Transition. New York: Princeton University Press, 1963.
George, Betty Stein. Education in Ghana. Washington, DC: United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1976.
Government of Ghana. National Council for Higher Education Decree, 1969. National Liberation Council Decree 401, Accra-Tema, Ghana: Ghana Publishing Corporation, 1969.
Graham, C. K. The History of Education in Ghana. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1971.
Kinsey, David C., and John W. Bing, eds. Nonformal Education in Ghana: A Project Report. Amherst, MA.: University of Massachusetts, 1978.
Owusu-Ansah, David. "The Society and Its Environment." In Ghana: A Country Study. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1995.
Owusu-Ansah, David, and Daniel Miles McFarland. Historical Dictionary of Ghana. Metuchen, NJ, and London: Scarecrow Press, 1995.
Quist Hubert O. "Secondary Education in Ghana at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century: Profile, Problems, Prospects." Prospects XXIX, 3 (1999): 425-442.
Scanlon, David, ed. Traditions of African Education. New York: Bureau of Publications of the Teachers College at Columbia University, 1964.
UNESCO. Statistical Yearbook. Paris: 1999.
——. The Education for All Year: 2000 Assessment (EFA). Paris: 2000.
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceGhana - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education