Education in Ghana

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Education in Ghana
Flag of Ghana.svg
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Higher Education
National education budget (2010)
Budget 24.4 % of government expenditure[1]
General details
Primary languages English
System type National
Literacy (2010)
Total 71.5
Male 78.3
Female 65.3
Secondary 375,000
Post secondary 200,000 (58.14%)

Education in Ghana from nursery school up to an undergraduate degree level takes about 20 years. Children begin their education at the age of three or four starting from nursery school to kindergarten, then primary school (elementary school), junior high school and senior high school (secondary school), and finally university. The average age at which a child enters primary school is 6 years. Ghanaians have relatively easy access to good education. In the past decade, Ghana's spending on education has been around 25 percent of its annual budget.[2]

Grading System[edit]

Some of the population of Ghana older generation (Baby boomer and Generation X) that were born prior to 1980 did not have the opportunity for good education. This puts a pressure on the younger generation, born after 1980's to further spearhead Ghana's current economic growth, digital economy and future newly industrialised country economy, even after such the work of Ghanaian's such as Kwame Nkrumah, the country's first president. The adult literacy rate in Ghana was 71.5% in 2010, with males at 78.3% and females at 65.3%.[3]

The youth female and male ages 15–24 years literacy rate in Ghana was 81% in 2010, with males at 82%,[4] and females at 80%.[5]

Ghanaian children begin their education at the age of three or four starting from nursery school to kindergarten, then elementary school (primary school), high school (junior high school and senior high school) and finally university. The average age at which a Ghanaian child enters primary school is 6 years.[6] Ghana has a 6-year primary school education system beginning at age six, and they pass on to a 3-year junior high school system. At the end of the third year of junior high, there is a mandatory "Basic Education Certificate Examination". Those continuing must complete the 3-year senior high school program (which has been changed to three years) and take an admission exam to enter any university or tertiary programme. The Ghanaian education system from nursery school up to an undergraduate degree level takes 20 years.[7][8][9]

Ghana’s grading system is different at every point in education. From above, through the pre-school to the 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 pluses and minuses.

Senior secondary school[edit]

US Grading System Ghana's Grading System
A A1,A2
B B3,B4,B5
C C6,C7,C8
D D9
F F10

Senior high school is more complex. Not long ago a more commonly accepted way of grading was used, but it was changed, making it sometimes confusing to understand. For example, if a student writes a test and gets a B2, this probably means that she/he had a regular performance on the test, but if the student gets a C4, it means that he/she had credit marks on the test. This new system has tightened the admission grade for universities.

Tertiary education[edit]

The grading system used almost by all the tertiary institutions are based on the Grade Point Average (G.P.A) as a way of assessing whether a student is failing or passing. But individual schools have their own way of calculating GPA's, because of their individualized marking schemes. For example, a mark of 80 may be an A in a school, but may be an A+ in another school.


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 even teach how to use some technological devices.

Primary School[edit]

Ghanaian nationals have relatively easy access to primary and secondary education. Ghana's spending on education has been around 25 %[10] of its annual budget in the past decade. All teaching is done in the official language English, by qualified Ghanaian educators.[7]

The courses taught at the primary or basic school level include English, Akan language and Ghanaian culture, ICT, mathematics, environmental studies, social studies, Mandarin and French as an OIF associated-member; as further languages are added,[11] integrated or general science, pre-vocational skills and pre-technical skills, religious and moral education, and physical activities such as Ghanaian music and dance, and physical education.[7]

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
6th Grade Primary 6

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

Junior High School[edit]

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;

High School Junior High School
7th Grade J.H.S 1
8th Grade J.H.S 2
9th grade J.H.S 3

Countries like Britain have 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 high school. Formerly, it used to cover 10 subjects ranging from:

  • Mathematics
  • English
  • Social studies
  • General science
  • Agricultural science
  • Pre-technical education
  • Pre-vocational education
  • Religious and moral education
  • French

But as of 2010, most of these subjects have been integrated and changed whilst others have been dropped and new ones added. The examinable subjects are now:

  • Mathematics
  • English
  • Social Studies
  • Integrated Science
  • Basic Designing and Technology (candidates can choose between Pre-technical Skills, Home Economics and Visual Arts)
  • Information Communication and Technology
  • Religious and Moral Education
  • French
  • Ghanaian Language and Culture

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 and as a result of this, most public schools do not write French and I.C.T in the examination.

Senior High School (S.H.S)[edit]

Campus of the Accra Academy, one of the leading schools in the country

The senior high level school curriculum has core subjects and elective subjects of which students must take four the core subjects of English language, mathematics, integrated science (including science, ICT and environmental studies) and social studies (economics, geography, history and government).[7]

The high school students also choose 4 elective subjects from 5 available programmes: technology programme, general programme (arts or science option), business programme, vocational programme and technical programme.[7] Apart from most primary and secondary schools which choose the Ghanaian system of schooling, there are also international schools such as the Takoradi International School, Tema International School, Galaxy International School, The Roman Ridge School, Lincoln Community School, Faith Montessori School, American International School, Association International School, New Nation School, SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College and International Community School, which offer the International Baccalaureat, Advanced Level General Certificate of Education and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).[8]

Students who pass the BECE are accepted into senior high 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 2007, 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.H.S.1
11th Grade S.H.S 2
12th Grade S.H.S 3
S.H.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[edit]

  • 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. In the fourth year students write their final exam called the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). It consists of subjects from the elective courses.

College, Polytechnic and University[edit]

Front view of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW) North Campus in Winneba.
Ghana University students at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, February 2011.

There are eight national public universities in Ghana, the University of Ghana (ranked 1,561), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (ranked 3,459), University of Cape Coast (ranked 3,620), University of Education (ranked 5,053), University for Development Studies (ranked 6,696), University of Mines and Technology (ranked 8,508), University Of Energy And Natural Resources and University of Health and Allied Sciences.[12] Ghana also has a growing number of accredited private universities including Ghana Telecom University College (ranked 8,541), Ashesi University College (ranked 5,957), Methodist University College Ghana (ranked 9,051), Central University College (ranked 8,455), Regent University College of Science and Technology (ranked 6,676) and Valley View University (ranked 6,705).[13]

Main entrance to the University of Ghana's Balme Library in Accra.

The oldest university in Ghana; the University of Ghana, was founded in 1948. It had a total of 29,754 students in 2008. Its programmes in the Arts, Humanities, Business, and the Social Sciences, as well as Medicine are one of the best in the country.

The University of Ghana has seen a shift of its traditionally best students to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.[14] Since Ghana's independence, the country has been one of the most educational in sub-saharan Africa. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has been chancellor of the University of Ghana since 2008.[14]

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; the second university to be established in Ghana, is the premier university of science and technology in Ghana and western Africa.[7]

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;

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), BA Political Science, P.G. Diploma in Entrepreneurship (MKU). 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, Doctor of Pharmacy and Doctor of Optometry (O.D). 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.

ICT in Education[edit]

Computer technology use for teaching and learning began to receive governments’ attention in the past decade. The ICT in Education Policy of Ghana requires the use of ICT for teaching and learning at all levels of the education system. Attempts have been made by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to support institutions in teaching of ICT literacy. Most secondary, and some basic, schools have computers laboratories.[15]

A recent study on Pedagogical integration of ICTs from 2009 - 2011 in 10 Ghanaian schools indicates that there is a gap between the policy directives and actual practices in schools. The emphasis of the official curricula is on the development of students’ skills in operating ICTs but not necessarily using the technology as a means of learning subjects other than ICTs. The study also found that the MOE is currently at the stage of deployment of ICT resources for developing the needed ICT literacy required for integration into teaching/learning.[15]

Student life[edit]

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 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.


Ratio of females to males in education system.
Females and males out of education system.

With over 98% of its children in school, Ghana currently has the second highest school enrolment rate in all of Africa.[6][16] The ratio of females to males in the total education system was 96.38% in 2011 and the Ghana education system annually attracts a high-number of foreign students particularly in the university sector.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Public spending on education, total (% of government expenditure)". World Bank. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "Public spending on education, total (% of government expenditure)". World Bank. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Field Listing :: Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  4. ^ "Literacy rate, youth male (% of males ages 15-24)". World Bank. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)". World Bank. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "UNICEF – Basic Education and Gender Equality". United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Retrieved 1 April 2012. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f "A Brief History of the Ghanaian Educational System". Archived from the original on 2011-08-09. 
  8. ^ a b Education in Ghana.
  9. ^ Country module Ghana. What to know about the National Accreditation Board (NAB). Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  10. ^ "Public spending on education, total (% of government expenditure)". World Bank. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "Le français, enjeu du XXI Sisécle (french)". Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  12. ^ Ghana public universities. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  13. ^ Ghana private tertiary institutions offering degree program. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  14. ^ a b "University of Ghana". Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  15. ^ a b K. D. MEREKU, I. Yidana, W. H. K. HORDZI, I. Tete-Mensah; Williams, J. B. (2009). Pedagogical Integration of ICT: Ghana Report. [1]
  16. ^ "This page is available to GlobePlus subscribers". Toronto: Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  17. ^ "Ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education (%)". Retrieved 21 July 2013. 

External links[edit]