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Headmistress and primary school students of Kentikrono Primary School, Ghana

On average it takes about 20 years for a child to complete their education in Ghana. Children from wealthy families usually benefit from attending private schools while children who are from poor families attend public schools. Most children in Ghana begin their education at the age of three or four. They first enter nursery school then followed two years in kindergarten. After kindergarten, the child then continues to primary school, junior high school, senior high school and then finally university. Before there were more boys enrolled in schools than girls but with the implementation of equal rights for men and women there are about the same number of boys and girls enrolled in schools in Ghana now.
The Republic of Ghana has 12,630 primary schools, 5,450 junior secondary schools, 503 senior secondary schools, 21 training colleges, 18 technical institutions, two diploma-awarding institutions and five universities serving a population of 18 million;[1] this means that most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to good education. In contrast, at the time of independence in 1957, Ghana had only one university and a handful of secondary schools. In addition, research in the Ga District has found that approximately 15% of the children in Ga attended private schools unrecognised by the government.[2] In the past decade, Ghana's spending on education has been between 28 percent and 40 percent of its annual budget. However, according to Odeneho Ababio, President of the National House of Chiefs, many children only have access to basic education because of the private schools in their communities.[3]


= Private and Public Schools

Most private institutions offer better education and at higher costs than public schools in Ghana (because of the capitation grant attendance of Public schools is basically free). Parents often believe they are forced to pay considerable sums of money to offer their kids the best education. Many public schools that are government owned are the worst places a student could earn a junior secondary school degree in Ghana. That is a bit harsh to say but considering how much parents are paying for their kids to acquire the required skills to gain a job in the work force, most Ghanaian parents will agree on this point. The BECE scores are normally used to compare quality and performance of schools. It is not so that all government schools score worse than all private schools. There are definitely some good public schools and some bad private schools too. But it is true that in the top-10 scoring schools in a district 80% or more will be private schools whereas the bottom 10% (the worst scoring schools often with a 100% failing on BECE exams) will usually be all public schools. This is commonly attributed to better management in private schools as good BECE results will mean more students and therefore better income of the school owner(s). However it is also observed that private schools tend to remove mediocre or poor-performing students from the school in the year before the final year (or at least have them repeat a class), in order to improve scores. This practice is not always in the best interest of students.

Grading System

Ghana’s grading system is different at every point in education

US Grading System Ghana's Grading System
A 1
B 2
C 3
D 4
E 5
F 6

From above, through pre-school to junior high every grade a student gains is written in terms of numbers instead of alphabets, which is commonly known worldwide. This system does not follow the common way of grading, there are no 1+’s or 6+’s as a grade, unlike letter grades which use the system of “+’s” and “–‘s”.

Senior secondary school

US Grading System Ghana's Grading System
A A1
B B2
C C4,C5,C6
D D7
E E8
F F9

Senior high school gets confusing, the former system used the commonly accepted way of grading, but with the new system it is really confusing to know what grade you got from an exam or test you wrote. For example if you wrote a test and got a B2 as a grade, this probably means you did ok on the test, but if you got a C4 this means you actually failed the test in reality, but the new system tells you otherwise. The new system has tightened the admission grade for universities, which is bad news for students.

Tertiary education

US Grading System Ghana's Grading System

Some might look at this and think the grading system looks the same but it is not, where as 90-100 is an A and D is a pass in the common grading system worldwide, it is not the same for tertiary institutions in Ghana. An A is from 70-100 and a C is a fail, you can imagine the amount of pressure students are under to do well in school, adding insult to injury each major comes with its own set of grade points making it very difficult to obtain a B in some highly competitive majors. The only similarity between these two systems is they both use the grade point average (G.P.A) as a way of accessing whether a student is failing or passing.


Pre-school comprises nursery and kindergarten which usually lasts for 2–3 years, most pre-schools are privately owned, kids are taught school basics like rhymes, poems, alphabets, numbers and some go a little bit further by teaching them how to use some technological devices.

Primary School

In North America this may be known as ‘Grade School’ or ‘Elementary School’ but in Africa and some parts of Europe it is referred to as primary school. A comprehensive explanation is listed in the table below:

Elementary School Primary School
1st Grade Primary 1
2nd Grade Primary 2
3rd Grade Primary 3
4th Grade Primary 4
5th Grade Primary 5
Primary 6

Primary 6 ends primary school in Ghana, Ghana has no middle school system.

Junior Secondary School

Junior Secondary School starts right after Primary 6, it has a different name as compared to other countries, and some countries call this stage either junior high school or middle school. In America this stage starts in Grade 6 but in Ghana it starts when you are in Grade 7. The table below will help in understanding how this works;

Junior High School Junior Secondary School
6th Grade Primary 6
7th Grade J.S.S 1
8th Grade J.S.S 2
J.S.S 3

Countries like Britain have the GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education). Ghana has B.E.C.E that means “Basic Education Certificate Examination” and this exam has to be taken before a student is accepted into senior secondary school. It covers ten subjects ranging from Mathematics, English, Pre-technical education, Pre-vocational education, Social studies, Religious and moral education, any Ghanaian language, French, General science and Agricultural science. Most junior secondary schools are privately owned and they are the best way to earn a BECE certificate. Junior secondary schools run by the government lack many educational facilities that enable students to understand what they are being taught in the classroom. Examples of junior secondary schools in Ghana are Morning Star, Soul Clinic, S.O.S (Save our Souls), Golden Age, North Ridge Lyceum, Queensland International School and Ridge Church.

Senior Secondary School (S.S.S)

Students who pass the BECE are accepted into secondary school, this part of the education system is when the tables turn around, because the best senior secondary schools are government owned, most people will not understand how this is possible but in reality it is just one of the many wonders in Ghana. Senior Secondary school is the same as High School in America, before it would take a student three years to complete senior secondary school but the system has been reformed in 2008, to be a four year term for completion. However, early 2009 this reform was immediately reversed again by the new NDC government, and presently it is 3 years again. The table below will gives an idea about how the two systems are related;

American system Ghana system
9th Grade
10th Grade S.S.S.1
11th Grade S.S.S 2
12th Grade S.S.S 3
S.S.S 4 (as of February 2009 cancelled)

From the table, it is easily noticeable that the reformed Ghanaian system is longer to complete and adds a year to the time spent in secondary school which was previously 3 years.

The curricula for Senior Secondary School consists of

  • Science (usually three years of biology, physics and chemistry).
  • Mathematics (usually three years of trigonometry, pre-calculus, calculus I and II)
  • English (usually three years, consisting of composition writing, comprehension, literature general thinking and understanding)
  • Physical Education (at least one year)
  • Social Studies (usually three years, including government, understanding society, economy and history)

Elective courses offered

  • General Arts I (consists of subjects ranging from economics, calculus I and II, geography and French).
  • General Arts II (consists of subjects ranging from literature, trigonometry and pre-calculus, history and French).
  • Agriculture (consists of subjects ranging from chemistry, physics, agricultural science and calculus I and II)
  • Business (consists of subjects ranging from accounting, business management, calculus I and II)
  • Science (consists of subjects ranging from biology, chemistry, physics and calculus I and II)

The curriculum for science students is hectic as compared to the other elective courses. Science students usually switch to other electives when they cannot keep up with the science course. West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (W.A.S.S.C.E.) In the fourth year students write their final exam called the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination. It consists of subjects from the elective courses. College and University Post secondary education in Ghana commonly consists of four years of majoring in a specific field of interest. Students are admitted based on their performance on the W.A.S.S.C.E, students who usually obtain a ‘C’ in their elective courses find it hard to get admitted to the public universities, they end up having to apply for private universities in the country. Some of the best universities in Ghana are

  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
  • University of Ghana
  • University of Education, Winneba
University of Cape Coast
  • University of Development Studies
  • Ashesi University (privately owned)
  • Central University (privately owned).

These universities offer most of the internationally accepted degrees, which include Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS) and Master of Business Administration (MBA). They also offer professional degrees like Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or other doctoral degree, such as Doctor of Arts, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Pharmacy. Most of the programs offered such as medicine have formal apprenticeship procedures post-graduation like residency and internship which must be completed after graduation and before one is considered to be fully trained.

Student Life

Those wishing to continue with their education move into the 3-year senior secondary school program. Most of the senior secondary schools provide boarding facilities, which most of the students use. Students select courses leading them to courses they may offer in the universities like General arts, General Science, Visual Arts and many other courses offered. At the end of the 3-year course in the senior secondary schools students are required to write an exam called West African Senior Secondary Certificate Exam(WASSCE). Other international exams are also taken such as SAT, TOEFL and IELTS. Entrance to universities is by examination following completion of senior secondary school. School enrollment totals almost 2 million: 1.3 million primary; 107,600 middle; 48,900 secondary; 21,280 technical; 11,300 teacher training; and 5,600 university.

Ghana Institute of Languages is one of the oldest Institutes to learn foreign languages. It is has three branches in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. In Accra the Institute is situated in Adabraka, in the old campus of Workers college not far from TUC. The Institute consists of three schools;the school of Languages, the school of Bilingual Secretary, and the school of Translation. Seven foreign modern languages are learned there, namely English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian and Arabic. The institute has about 2,000 students in the academic year 2008.

There is currently an on-going educational reform in Ghana, and teaching is mainly in English, Ghana's official language.

See also


External links



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