Problems Facing the Education System in Ghana

Despite making great improvements in the educational system, Ghana still faces multiple barriers to quality education for all children. While Ghana’s enrollment rates are high for the region at 87 percent for primary school students, the quality of education is poor and varies widely from school to school. Students frequently miss educational milestones, enroll and drop out repeatedly, miss large amounts of school, and often must repeat grades. According to the CIA World Factbook, children only stay in school until an average age of 12 years old. But the key to breaking the cycle of poverty in Ghana is education, and Cross Catholic Outreach is partnering with the Diocese of Wa to help the next generation achieve their dreams.

Key Takeaways:

Education in Ghana

While Ghana has made a lot of improvements to its education system through numerous legislative and community-led reforms, students still face numerous challenges in obtaining a quality education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, lower education rates directly correlate to higher incidences of childhood marriage, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS infection rates, and continued poverty, especially for women and girls in Ghana. For rural students, daily commutes to and from school can be long, challenging, and even unsafe. Some students don’t even have classrooms — their education takes place underneath a tree. Children with disabilities often find existing classrooms inaccessible, and even if they can access them, the teachers are not equipped to meet their needs.

Unfortunately, nearly a third of students enrolled in Ghanaian schools do not complete primary school, and only 47% complete secondary school.

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Issues Faced by Young Girls in Ghana

Girls in Ghana face additional barriers to their education — perhaps the most common and recurring barrier is their menstrual cycle. Since most schools don’t have adequate bathroom facilities, girls will stay home during their menstrual cycle because there’s no safe place to change their sanitary pads. This means girls miss out on valuable education. Other major issues include widespread gender-based violence and sexual violence, which makes schools an unsafe environment that is certainly not conducive to learning. 

Student sits on a bench

The Rich/Poor Divide in Education

Additionally, students entering primary school in Ghana are not prepared. UNICEF reportthat 1 in 4 children in Ghana are not enrolled in Kindergarten, which is vital to developing an educational foundation. The rich/poor divide is displayed in the below statistics: 

  • • Children from the wealthiest households are 9 times more likely to attend pre-primary education than children from the poorest. 
  • • Children from more affluent families are more likely to complete the highest levels of education, as compared to children from the poorest families. For example, UNICEF said 71% of children from the wealthiest homes complete the highest level of education, but only 9% of children from the poorest families achieve the same result.
  • • Girls from the poorest families on average obtain 4 years of education, while girls from the wealthiest obtain 13 years.

This education gap shows how children from the poorest communities are missing opportunities to learn and grow into productive, happy adults. Because the children from the poorest households are not building the skills they need to learn, they face poorer education outcomes and remain trapped in the poverty cycle. 

What Can Be Done?

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the United Nations has identified education as the key to breaking out of poverty towards national development. Women who complete primary and secondary education consistently earn higher wages, and their children are five times more likely to be enrolled in a pre-primary educational program than mothers who have only completed primary education or who have no education. According to UNICEF, enrolling a child in just one year of pre-primary education (ex. kindergarten) means they are less likely to drop out of school or repeat grades and have better educational outcomes overall.

In addition to providing better education, there are other barriers to education that need to be addressed. Girls need access to safe restrooms and menstrual products so they can continue attending school even when they are experiencing their monthly cycle. Finally, Ghanaian schools need to provide clean water and sanitation to reduce the spread of waterborne illnesses, a leading cause of chronic school absenteeism

Schools in Ghana need support –that’s why in partnership with the Catholic Church in Ghana, Cross Catholic Outreach makes critical investments in building safe classrooms, providing desks and improving or building safe bathroom facilities. As Catholics, it is our duty to transform poorer communities across the globe and provide them with the resources they need to raise themselves out of poverty. Cross Catholic Outreach’s education initiatives helps children break out of the poverty cycle by providing quality education, nutritional meals, and Catholic spiritual formation to boys and girls in Ghana. Learn how you can get involved today.

Students praying in Catholic school

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Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2023, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.