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close this bookGhana: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 2000, 67 p.)
close this folderChapter 1: Basic Education in Ghana: An Overview
View the document1.1 Introduction
View the document1.2 National Indicators
View the document1.3 Recent History of the Basic Education System
View the document1.4 Structure and Characteristics of Basic Education
View the document1.5 Participation in Basic Education
View the document1.6 Pupil-Teacher Ratios
View the document1.7 The Quality of Basic Education
View the document1.8 Education Expenditure
View the document1.9 Teachers
View the document1.10 Conclusion

1.1 Introduction

This chapter provides an overview of basic education in Ghana. It describes the structure of basic education, trends in enrolment and participation, patterns of expenditure across educational levels, and key policy reforms. Issues concerning the quality of teaching and learning are discussed highlighting the importance of teachers and teacher education. The background information contained in this chapter informs the critical analysis of the Ghanaian teacher education system in subsequent chapters, and, in particular, an evaluation of its role in the development and improvement of basic education.

1.2 National Indicators

Ghana is a low-income country, with a population of 18 million of whom 34 per cent live below the poverty line1. Per capita income in 1997 was US$ 370 ($1790 PPP). Population growth averaged 2.7 per cent between 1990 and 1997, and over 44 per cent of Ghana’s population is under 15 years old. Coupled with a low average income per head, this puts a strain on public provision of resources for education, health, water and sanitation services. Most of the population lives in rural and semi-rural areas - 63 per cent - and agriculture provides over 60 per cent of all employment. Life expectancy at birth is 57 years. Adult illiteracy is estimated at 36 per cent and is greater among women than men - 47 per cent compared with 24 per cent (World Bank, 1998a).

1 The poverty line is based on two-thirds of average income set by the Ghanaian Living Standards Survey in 1988.

Since the introduction of Ghana’s economic reform programme in 1983, its annual growth has been higher than most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), averaging 4.3 per cent between 1990 and 1997 (World Bank, 1998a). Ghana has adopted the goal of becoming a middle income country by 2020 based on the experience of countries that have made the successful transition to sustainable economic growth through promotion of human resource development.2 Investment in human resources, through the expansion and strengthening of basic education, is a central feature of Ghana’s economic and social development strategy to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty.

2 See Ghana Vision 2020, Government of Ghana, 1995.

1.3 Recent History of the Basic Education System

Since the 1950s Ghana has made a number of attempts to reform the education system put in place by the British colonial administration, driven by the desire to make it more relevant to her needs as a developing country. In 1951 an Accelerated Development Plan sought to expand access to education. Following independence from Britain in 1957, the Government of Ghana’s strong commitment to developing human resources was consolidated by the 1961 Education Act that made education free and compulsory at the basic level. By 1970 Ghana had one of the most highly developed education systems in West Africa (EIU, 1996:16).3 Gross enrolment ratios increased dramatically, 60 per cent of teachers in primary schools were trained, and the Ministry of Education (MOE) projected that all untrained teachers would be eliminated from the education system by 1975 (Konadu, 1994:12).

3 Recurrent government expenditures on education averaged 24 per cent of the total recurrent budget in the early 1970s, substantially higher than the average figure of 17 per cent for other West African countries (World Bank, 1985 in Glewwe and Ilias, 1996:397).

The late 1970s and early 1980s, however, saw a sharp economic decline during which GNP per capita fell by 23 per cent between 1975 and 1983. The real value of government financing for education fell sharply from 6.4 per cent of GDP in 1976 to 1.4 per cent in 1983, and resulted in near collapse of the education system. Teachers were not paid promptly, there was little supervision or inspection, schools were in disrepair, and there were inadequate textbooks and instructional materials (Nti, 1997:5; World Bank, 1996:2). The deteriorating economic climate and working conditions prompted an exodus of trained teachers to find better paid work in other countries. Untrained teachers were employed to avoid disintegration of the education system, and in sharp contrast to the predictions of the early 1970s, by 1982 the percentage of trained primary school teachers had fallen to less than 50 per cent (Table 1).

Table 1.1: Primary Schools, Enrolment and Teachers, 1974/75 - 1982/83

Year

No. of Schools

Total Enrolment

No. of Teachers

% of Trained Teachers

1974/75

6886

1051012

35334

81.3

1975/76

6966

1157303

38381

77.2

1976/77

7248

1213291

40807

72.7

1977/78

7229

1246480

45119

63.9

1978/79

7658

1295525

48397

59.3

1979/80

7750

1335463

48146

56.7

1980/81

7848

1377282

47921

53.9

1981/82

8082

1434573

50685

51.3

1982/83

8395

1482090

55528

49.6

Source: GES 1991 in Avotri et al., 1999:10

Yeboah (1990) summarises the status of the Ghanaian education system in the early 1980s in five points:

1. In many schools, school children and teachers were without textbooks and stationary items as a result of foreign exchange constraints.

2. Building, furniture and equipment had deteriorated as a result of lack of replacement and repair - enrolment levels had declined over the years while dropout rate from the school system continued to rise.

3. There was an exodus of significant numbers of trained and highly qualified teachers. This had led to the recruitment of untrained teachers in primary schools resulting in less effective instruction at the Basic Education level.

4. Government’s finance towards education had drastically reduced.

5. There was no data and statistics on which to base any planning.

Thus, despite a steady rise in the number of primary schools, enrolments and teachers between 1974 and 1982, the quality of the education system declined.4

4 Using data from the Ghana Living Standards Survey 1988-89, Glewwe and Ilias (1996) find that after controlling for years of schooling, older Ghanaians score higher on mathematics and English tests than younger Ghanaians. They suggest that this is due to the deterioration in educational quality in the early 1980s.

The severity of Ghana’s economic problems peaked in 1983 at which time the Government of Ghana launched the Economic Recovery Programme with financial assistance from the World Bank and international donor agencies. As an integral part of its plan for economic recovery, the government initiated the 1987 Education Reform Programme (ERP) to reverse the decline in the education system. Its major goals were to expand access to basic education, improve the quality of basic education, make education more relevant to Ghana’s socioeconomic needs, and ensure sustainability of the reform programme after the economic adjustment period (MOE, 1994:13). The main elements of the reform programme were:

· reduction in the length of pre-university education from 17 to 12 years, and its restructuring into a 6-3-3 system;

· introduction of new curricula designed to be more relevant to the needs of the labour market across all educational levels;

· raised entry requirements for teacher trainees, initiation of a programme to replace unqualified teachers, and introduction of in-service teacher training; and,

· mobilisation of local community participation in the provision of basic education (DFID, 1998:68; World Bank 1996:2).

The Education Reform Review Committee (ERRC) was set up in 1994 to review the achievements of the 1987 ERP. It found that although the ERP had achieved increases in enrolments and improvements in school facilities, teaching and learning outcomes remained poor. Specifically, it identified the following weaknesses:

· continued decline in the quality of education;
· overloading of the curriculum;
· insufficient vocational and practical orientation of the curriculum;
· lack of facilities to achieve required teaching and learning outcomes;
· and inefficient allocation and management of resources.

The overarching message of the 1994 ERRC was that was that the expansion of access to basic education and increases in physical inputs could not be sustained unless accompanied by improvements in teaching and learning in schools. In response, the GOG sought to address this issue in its FCUBE Programme, prepared in 1994. This promised Free, Compulsory and Universal Basic Education by the year 2005, and was in fulfilment of the requirement of Article 38 (2) of the 1992 Constitution of the Fourth Republic of Ghana which states:

The Government shall, within two years after Parliament first meets after coming into force of this Constitution, draw up a programme for implementation within the following ten years, for the provision of free, compulsory and universal basic education.

fCUBE5 was launched in 1996 and designed to address the weaknesses of the 1987 ERP in two five-year phases from 1996 to 2005. It has three main goals:

· improved access to, and participation in basic education with a specific focus on girls and the poor;

· enhanced quality of teaching and learning outcomes; and,

· improved efficiency in the allocation, management and utilisation of fiscal, material and human resources in the education system (MOE, 1994).

5 ‘FCUBE’ became ‘fCUBE’ when the Government sanctioned the charging of schools fees for certain items (e.g. school books) in 1993.

Key elements include improvements to access through the rehabilitation and construction of school facilities, the fostering of full-scale community ownership and management of schools, and measures to increase education participation by girls and disadvantaged children. Other strategies to increase access and participation include the adoption of targets for the reduction of drop out and repetition rates and a social marketing campaign to promote education. Measures to improve the quality of teaching and learning include redesigning of pre-service and in-service training programmes to ensure well-qualified teachers, curriculum review and development, and the more adequate provision of instructional materials. The management efficiency component of the programme involves decentralisation and district capacity building, more effective monitoring, supervision and evaluation of education sector programmes and activities, and more efficient financial and personnel management.

The fCUBE programme is strongly supported by a World Bank credit, the Basic Education Sector Improvement Programme (BESIP). BESIP was established with the aim of translating the fCUBE objectives into an operational plan. Due to the size and complexity of fCUBE, the GOG has been working on its implementation with a number of development partners, including USAID, DFID, EU, GTZ and JICA, in a joint MOE-donor forum.

The scale of fCUBE has not made it easy to prioritise implementation strategies. It is much clearer on its goals rather than the processes of implementation to achieve these objectives. It is now apparent that the timetable for the overarching goal and components of FCUBE cannot be met. This has prompted examination of fCUBE’s implementation. Attention has come to focus on two key factors: (i) the mainstreaming of the fCUBE programme within the normal functions of the MoE and its agencies; and, (ii) the proper utilisation of resources at the local district level where they have the greatest impact on the practice of schooling (DFID, 1998).

1998 saw the emergence of a planning approach called Whole School Development (WSD) that seeks to address the implementation constraints of fCUBE. This was first piloted with support from DFID, and is the MOE’s preferred implementation strategy to achieve fCUBE’s objectives across Ghana. Under WSD, schools and districts are to become responsible for their own planning and budgeting, and accountable for their performance. This is in line with the move towards decentralisation of education outlined in the original fCUBE policy document. It is not clear at the time of writing how WSD will impact on initial teacher education, if at all. This requires further investigation.

Although no large-scale evaluation of the recent educational reforms in Ghana has been conducted evidence from a handful of small-scale studies suggests that their impact has been disappointing. An evaluation of the World Bank supported Primary School Development Project (PSDP) in 1999, for example, revealed problems of teacher absenteeism, loss of instructional time, poor instructional quality, poor management and instructional lapses, and inadequate textbooks in schools as limiting the impact of reform inputs (Fobih et al., 1999). Most elements of the reform programme, other than structural change to pre-university schooling, still remain on the agenda and have failed to be implemented successfully. This conclusion is supported by the recent Ghana Education Sector Support Report by DFID (1998:68) which states:

During this time [1987-1998] there have been few significant gains in either access to, or quality outcomes from, the education system. Explanations for the slow rate of change would include (a) a lack of commitment to change among education professionals, (b) underestimation of the extent of institutional change required and the necessary time to effect the changes, (c) lack of accountability at all levels of the system, (d) lack of an agreed and integrated approach to the reform programme, and (d) [sic] continuing growth of the school-age population, and (e) lack of focus in the contribution of external funding.

fCUBE is now in its fourth year of implementation, and although available data, at best, relates to its first two years only, some preliminary assessment of the programme is possible. The current status of the education system within the context of fCUBE objectives is presented in the remainder of this chapter.

1.4 Structure and Characteristics of Basic Education

Schools in Ghana are established by local authorities, Christian or Muslim organisations. Historically churches constructed and managed most schools, but in 1955 the running of most schools was taken over by the government. Although there remain Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican and Muslim educational units in the Ghana Education Service, the management and financing of all schools is controlled by district and central educational authorities.

Prior to 1987, the Ghanaian education system consisted of a six year primary cycle; a four year middle; a seven year secondary (the first five years leading to the ‘O’ level certification and the last two leading to ‘A’ level); and a three or four year tertiary. It was the norm for tertiary students to have spent up to 17 years on pre-university education (World Bank, 1996:2). The structure of Ghana’s education system prior to 1987 is shown in Appendix 1a.

The 1987 reforms brought changes to the education system resulting in the present structure as shown in Appendix 1b. Under the new system Ghana’s basic education cycle consists of six years of primary and three years of junior secondary schooling. This is followed by a three-year senior secondary cycle, and a tertiary sub-sector comprising several forms of technical institutes, universities, polytechnics, and teacher training colleges. The new system replaced the old completely after the academic year 1995/96, when the last cohort under the old system graduated. The basic education cycle is nominally compulsory, and children are supposed to enter primary school at the age of six. There is automatic promotion throughout primary school and JSS, using internal examinations, except for pupils with weak performances or poor attendance, who repeat with parental consent. External examinations occur only in the final year of JSS.

In the primary school, nine subjects are studied: English, mathematics, science, agriculture, social studies, life skills, Ghanaian language, cultural studies, and physical education. Lower primary classes (grades one to three) are officially taught in the Ghanaian language prevailing in the local community; for primary grade four and beyond, English is the language of instruction.

For most pupils JSS is terminal. JSS is expected to equip the majority, therefore, with basic skills to enter the labour market, and to prepare the minority for continued study at senior secondary level. To meet these dual objectives, JSS curricula have been restructured, and new teaching and learning materials developed for thirteen subjects - technical and pre-vocational skills training have been added to the core primary subjects, with French as an elective course (World Bank, 1996:3).

It is generally agreed that the basic curriculum is too heavy with too many subjects and examinations. As Penrose (1996: 4-5) observes,

There appears to be a consensus that there are too many subjects at the basic level, and that they should be reduced from the present nine subjects at primary to five or six; and from the present JSS total of 13, of which 12 are nationally examined, to 12 with national examination in 10.

1.5 Participation in Basic Education

Total enrolments in basic education have increased since the announcement of the 1987 reforms. In 1996 there were 11,765 public primary schools, and 1,249 private primary schools; at the junior secondary level, the figures were 5,597, and 283, respectively. Between 1988 and 1996, public primary enrolments grew by over 26 per cent from 1,598,443 to 2,027,183, at an average annual rate of 2.5 per cent. Over the same period total enrolment in private primary schools increased much more rapidly, by over 125 per cent, from about 134,000 to over 306,000 (World Bank, 1996; MOE, 1998). Primary enrolments in private primary schools comprise 11 per cent of all primary enrolments. Between 1988 and 1996 total enrolments in public junior secondary schools grew by about 14 per cent, from 608,690 to 695,468. In 1996 total enrolment in private JSS was 42,589, about 6 per cent of total JSS enrolments. The pattern of total enrolments in public primary and middle/JSS schools between 1981 and 1996 is shown in Figure 1, and actual total enrolment figures are presented in Appendix 2, Tables A2a and A2b.


Figure 1: Enrolment in Primary and Middle/JSS Schools (Public), 1981-1996

Source: Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation Division, MOE, Republic of Ghana, 1998

Despite an absolute increase in primary enrolments since the late 1980s, the rate of increase has failed to keep pace with the growth of the school age population. Population growth averaged 3.3 per cent between 1980 and 1990, and 2.7 per cent between 1990 and 1997 (World Bank, 1998). This has resulted in a gradual decline in the participation rate such that nationally one child in three is not attending primary school (DFID, 1998:69). Participation rates for primary and JSS schools are presented in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2: Participation as Percentage of Eligible Population, Primary and JSS, 1992-1996


1992/93

1993/94

1994/95

1995/96

1996/97

Primary

70

70

68

66

66

Junior Secondary

57

56

56

56

57

Source: MOE Education Strategic Plan 1998-2003, 1998: Annex 1

The primary participation figures presented in Table 1.2 are very close to the average for sub-Saharan Africa which has an average primary gross enrolment ratio of 67 per cent. The national figures, however, hide regional and urban-rural disparities. For example, primary gross enrolments in Upper East and Upper West regions in 1992 were 46 and 54 per cent, respectively. In these regions there is little indication of recent improvement (DFID, 1998:69).

The average dropout rate for primary pupils across all grades in 1996/97 was 3.6 per cent, and highest in the first grade at 7.1 per cent. In the same year, repetition at the primary level averaged 4 per cent. As with dropout, repetition in primary school is most common in the first grade at 7.2 per cent, and the percentage of primary pupils repeating has increased steadily since 1991 (see Appendix 3, Tables A3a and A3b). Primary school completion figures for 1994 estimate that of those who enrol in the first grade of primary school about 25 per cent fail to complete the primary cycle (World Bank, 1996:2). See Table 1.3.

Table 1.3: Basic Education System Outcome Indicators, 1991-1994

Year

Completion rate for 6 year primary education (%)

Completion rate for 3-year junior secondary education (%)

Completion rate for 9-year basic education (%)

Transitional (pass) rate of primary school graduates to JSS (%)

Transitional (pass) rate of JSS graduates to SSS (%)

1991

70.0

82.8

50.5

96.8

35.3

1992

70.1

82.8

51.0

93.9

33.8

1993

72.1

82.6

54.3

95.0

34.8

1994

75.4

82.4

56.8

94.5

-

Source: MOE 1995 in World Bank 1996

In 1994 the transition rate from primary to junior secondary was 94.5 per cent for those pupils completing primary school. Although the percentage of pupils completing basic education steadily improved between 1991 and 1994, by 1994 only 57 per cent of students completed basic education.

Girls’ enrolment as a proportion of total enrolments improved at the primary level from 44.6 to 46.3 per cent between 1987 and 1996, and at the JSS level from 41.3 to 43.7 per cent over the same period (Table 1.4).

Table 1.4: Girls’ Enrolment as Percentage of Total, Primary and JSS, 1987-1996


1987/88

1988/89

1989/90

1990/91

1991/92

1992/93

1993/94

1994/95

1995/96

1996/97

primary

44.6

44.5

44.9

45.0

45.5

45.7

45.9

46.1

46.2

46.3

JSS

41.3

41.3

41.3

40.8

41.1

41.8

42.2

42.8

43.2

43.7

Source: Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (PBME), MOE, Republic of Ghana, October 1998

These national statistics, however, mask the existence of much greater differences in some parts of the country, particularly in the north, where in 1992 (the latest year for which regional gender disaggregated data are available) girls comprised only 35 per cent of primary enrolments and as little as 25 per cent of junior secondary (World Bank, 1996:9). There is also a clear pattern of girls’ enrolment as a proportion of total enrolments falling with successive grades of primary and junior secondary schooling (Table 1.5).

Table 1.5: Basic Enrolment by Grade and Gender, 1994/95

Grade

Boys

Girls

Total

Girls as % of total

P1

199,995

179,705

379,700

47.3%

P2

179,855

158,211

338,066

46.8%

P3

174,092

151,360

325,452

46.5%

P4

169,090

143,843

312,933

46.0%

P5

158,,800

131,547

290,347

45.3%

P6

153,516

120,789

274,305

44.0%

Primary Total

1,035,348

885,455

1,920,803

46.6%

JSS1

137,913

107,607

245,520

43.8%

JSS2

126,319

94,557

220,876

42.8%

JSS3

113,085

80,370

193,455

41.5%

JSS Total

377,317

282,534

659,851

42.8%

Basic Total

1,412,665

1,177,989

2,590,654

45.5%

Source: PBME, MOE (1996)

The direct and indirect costs of schooling discourage poor families from sending their children, particularly girls, to school. In 1993, the MOE sanctioned the charging of fees by schools for textbooks. In addition to these charges, district authorities and parent teacher associations, which now have more responsibility for education, levy their own fees. Parents/guardians are asked to pay for exercise books, stationery, school uniforms, lunch, transportation, and other furniture and equipment. The direct costs of schooling are perceived as having risen rapidly in comparison to capacity to pay. The majority of Ghana’s population lives in rural areas where generally families are poorer, and school-age children contribute to family income through productive and domestic activities. For a family to send all its children to school may constitute a loss in family revenue. The opportunity cost of education for girls, in particular, may be high where they are needed for household and child-care responsibilities. Also, parents’ perceptions of boys’ superior returns to education, and traditional early marriages in some parts of the country contribute to the incidence of lower enrolment among girls (Norton et. al, 1995; World Bank, 1996).

1.6 Pupil-Teacher Ratios

Aggregate pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs) in Ghana are generous by international standards in developing countries, and in 1996 were 32 and 21 for primary and JSS, respectively. The PTR is a crucial indicator of how the costs of providing education services are being influenced. Projections from the 1998 MOE Education Sector Strategic Plan, indicate a clear government commitment to steadily increase PTRs in primary and JSS schools to 35.2 and 22.7 by 2003. See Table 1.6.

Table 1.6: Projected Pupil-Teacher Ratios at Primary and JSS Levels, 1998-2003


1998/99

1999/00

2000/01

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

primary

33.7

33.9

34.3

34.6

34.9

35.2

JSS

21.2

21.5

21.8

22.1

22.4

22.7

Source: Education Sector Strategic Plan 1998-2003, MOE, 1998

National PTRs, however, hide large disparities in class sizes, with some urban primary schools having classes as large as 80 children, while many rural schools have classes of less than 20. Average regional PTRs provide some indication of variation by geographical location (Table 1.7).

Table 1.7: Average Regional Primary Pupil-Teacher Ratios, 1997

Region

Average PTRs

Ashanti

31.3

Brong Ahafo

26.4

Central

36.1

Eastern

28.5

Greater Accra

40.0

Northern

37.2

Volta

32.1

Upper East

46.5

Upper West

39.7

Western

33.0

National Regional Average

33.4

Source: DFID 1998

1.7 The Quality of Basic Education

There has not been a comprehensive attempt to evaluate the impact of the 1987 reforms on the basic school system. Some idea of whether it has made a positive impact on children’s learning and achievement can be deduced from studies about the performance level of pupils. These are discussed below.

Test results, it can be argued, constitute the primary benchmark for evaluating educational quality, and therefore pupils’ performances in specially designed tests could be used a yardstick for measuring the impact of reform.

As a consequence of the 1987 reforms, a test instrument was developed, with the support of USAID, to measure students’ achievement in English and mathematics in the last year of primary school. The test is criterion-referenced (i.e. standards are fixed) with scores being reported as a percentage of students reaching a score of 60 per cent in English and 55 per cent in mathematics (Table 1.8). Data for 1996 show that only 5.5 per cent of pupils achieved the criterion pass score in English, and only 1.8 per cent in mathematics. In that year the tests were administered to a total of 16,641 pupils from 529 public and 36 private schools.

Table 1.8: Criterion-Referenced Test Results (Public Schools), 1992-1996


1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

English*

2.0%

5.3%

3.3%

3.6%

5.5%

Mathematics**

1.1%

2.1%

1.5%

3.6%

1.8%

Source: DFID, 1998

Notes: *percentage achieving 60 per cent criterion pass score; **percentage achieving 55 per cent criterion pass score

The criterion-referenced mean scores shown in Table 1.9 suggest that there is some learning, but the scores, based on multiple response items mainly, are quite near to those that would be achieved from random guessing (i.e.20 per cent). The terminal JSS examination, the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), gives little indication of student achievement, as it is norm-referenced with a consistently high pass rate - 84.8 per cent in 1994 (DFID, 1998:71).

Table 1.9: Criterion-Referenced Mean Test Scores (Public Schools), 1992-1996


1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

English

29.9%

30.9%

31.0%

31.6%

33.0%

Mathematics

27.3%

27.4%

27.7%

28.1%

28.8%

Source: DFID, 1998

While the quality of the test items is variable, and the setting of a pass/mastery scores of 60/55 per cent is open to question, available data suggest that the vast majority of pupils in public primary schools are learning very little in terms of basic skills (DFID, 1998:70). The 1996 CRT results also showed pupils at private primary schools achieved significantly superior results in the tests, with a mean score of 61 per cent in English and 47 per cent in mathematics, compared with mean scores of 33 and 28.8 per cent, respectively in public schools. See Tables 1.10 and 1.11.

Table 1.10: Mean Scores in English (Public and Private Schools), 1992-1997

YEAR

PUBLIC

PRIVATE

1992

29.9

-

1993

30.9

-

1994

31.0

58.8

1995

31.6

-

1996

33.0

61.0

1997

33.9

67.4

Source: PREP/MOE, 1997

Table 1.11: Mean scores in Mathematics (Public and Private Schools), 1992-1997

YEAR

PUBLIC

PRIVATE

1992

27.3

-

1993

27.4

-

1994

27.7

47.3

1995

28.1

-

1996

28.8

47.0

1997

29.9

51.7

Source: PREP/MOE, 1997

Classroom based research conducted by CRIQPEG (the Centre for Research into Improving the Quality of Primary Education in Ghana), at the University of Cape Coast, indicates that a substantial proportion of children at all grade levels are unable to read and write to an appreciable standard. For example, even at grade 5, 40-50 per cent of children tested could not decode typical passages from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th English grade books. Only about 1/6 of grade 4 children and 1/3 of grade 5 children could decode a reading passage with at least 70 per cent accuracy (CRIQPEG Report, 1995).

Other than the CRTs, very little reliable data is available on the quality of schooling and learning achievement other than that outlined above. Both the 1995 Participatory Poverty Assessment (PPA) and the 1992 Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) describe the poor quality of education as viewed by community members and service providers. Parents consistently said their children could not read or write (their assessment of whether the system was working) and that the JSS curriculum was too broad. A sharp rise in enrolments in private schools where exam results are better, and increases in repetition rates during the 1990s, further suggest learning outcomes in public schools has fallen (Norton et. al., 1995). This evidence indicates that the 1987 reforms have not produced the dividends expected. Again, such evidence of the poor performance of students in schools suggests that teaching and learning in schools is not having the desired impact in terms of improving the achievement levels of children.

A 1996 report by the Primary Education Programme (PREP) of the MOE attributed the poor performance of public schools primarily to low level teaching and learning. Other causes of the low performance were poor supervision of teachers, poor school management, frequent absenteeism of teachers in school, and the lack of instructional materials. The PREP report also concluded that private schools performed better due to certain advantages over public schools, such as greater control and supervision of teachers, more effective school management and parent-teacher relationships, and proportionally more instructional materials (MOE, 1996).

The observations from the PREP study lead to certain conclusions and implications for teacher training that require further investigation. An overarching issue is the role of the teacher training process in contributing to the effectiveness of the school system. More specific issues include the design of instructional tasks for teacher training, what these tasks emphasise, and how they relate to the goal of raising children’s achievement and performance at the basic school level.

The MOE, in trying to understand the reasons for low achievements among pupils in school, has suggested the following factors as among the key causes:

(i) Lack of learning materials, and for teachers’ failure to make use of textbooks, equipment and other learning materials;

(ii) Low levels of pupils and teacher absenteeism;

(iii) Inadequate funding by Government on non-salary recurrent expenses;

(iv) Insufficient use of teacher - pupil instructional contact hours;

(v) Unmotivated teachers owing to unattractive incentives, ineffective sanctions and poor social appreciation of the roles of teachers;

(vi) An overly ambitious curriculum burdensome to both teachers and pupils;

(vii) Ineffective pre-service teacher training and inadequate in-service teacher training to introduce teachers to the new curriculum;

(viii) Non-interactive mode of teaching;

(ix) Weak supervision, both in school and by district/circuit supervisors and inspectors; and

(x) For the Junior Secondary School, a lack of workshops and equipment and qualified technical teachers.

(Ghana Ministry of Education briefing on fCUBE to the Cabinet, 1995).

This list shows four main areas to which the problems of weak learning results of pupils could be linked. These are:

· ineffective system of teacher training - (i), (vi), (viii);

· ineffective system of teacher and school supervision - (ii), (iv), (ix);

· inadequate funding and lack of support for teachers in terms of incentives - (iii), (v), (x) and;

· over ambitious school curriculum when viewed in terms of content coverage and time availability.

The evidence of low achievement of pupils in schools created an awareness of the need to target initial teacher training for more reforms. Recently, attempts have been made in teacher training to focus more attention on the development of specific teaching skills and professional qualities with the intention that this would ultimately lead to improvements in the teacher’s instructional practices and pupils’ learning outcomes.

1.8 Education Expenditure

Expenditure on education can be broken down into two components: recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure. Education's share of the national recurrent budget increased from 17 per cent in 1984 to an average of nearly 39 per cent between 1991 and 1995. In 1996, however, it was 34.7 per cent and increased to 35.4 in 1997. Although education’s share of the recurrent budget fell to 30.4 per cent in 1999 it is expected to increase again to 38.8 per cent in 2000. (MOE, 1999; Avotri et al., 1999:15; World Bank, 1996:4-5).

Figure 2 presents data on subsectoral allocation of the government’s recurrent expenditure on education. Its allocation to basic education has risen from 44 per cent of the budget in 1984 to being consistently over 60 per cent since 1989.6 In 1998 basic education received 61.7 per cent of the budget. In the latter half of the 1990s, however, basic education received a smaller proportion of the total education recurrent expenditure than the first half. This recent trend clearly runs counter to the policy to invest a greater proportion of recurrent expenditure at the basic level.

6 As noted by Penrose (1998:50) all Ghanaian data combine primary with pre-school expenditures. This distortion of the figures can be quantified as pre-school expenditures account for about 18 per cent of the figure normally quoted as ‘primary’.

Recurrent expenditure on senior secondary schools was proportionately greater in the second half of the 1990s, but its share of the budget has been declining since peaking in 1996. In 1998, senior secondary education received 14.8 per cent of the budget. The recurrent allocation to tertiary education fell in the mid-1990s but has since increased to early 1990s levels, and was 12 per cent in 1998.

Teacher education has seen its share of the recurrent education budget grow more than any other subsector. Its allocation increased from 2.7 per cent in 1989 to 6 per cent by 1998 despite decreases in the years 1991, 1996, and 1997. In 1999 teacher education was provisionally to receive 6.7 per cent of recurrent education expenditure.


Figure 27: Recurrent Expenditure on Education - Allocation by Subsector (% of Total), 1989-1999

7 Data for 1999 are provisional estimates.

By contrast, support to vocational and technical education declined in the mid-1990s but has since increased to earlier levels of around 2 per cent. During the 1990s non-formal education received about 0.5 of the recurrent expenditure to education, and in 1998 its share was 0.4 per cent.

The recurrent cost per student by educational level over the period 1992 to 1998, adjusted for inflation using constant 1996 US$ prices, is shown in Table 1.12. The relative differences in the unit costs by level of education have changed significantly during the 1990s. They provide an indication of the tradeoffs involved in investing at different educational levels.

Table 1.12: Recurrent Public Expenditure Per Student (constant 1996 US$ - 1996, US$1=c1637)

Level/Type of Education

1992

1995

1998

primary

36.8

44.3

41.8

JSS

66.8

86.6

68.0

SSS

77.4

153.9

168.0

vocational/technical

188.4

139.0

299.5

teacher education

246.6

442.6

617.3

polytechnic

102.2

131.8

209.6

university

1376.9

1123.9

859.9

Source: Adapted from data in MOE, 1999: Appendix 4.1; World Bank 1998: 16

Unit costs (adjusted for inflation) at the primary level have remained relatively constant but, of concern, declined in the period 1995 to 1998 despite the objectives of fCUBE. Unit costs for JSS increased in 1995, but by 1998 had returned to their 1992 level. Expenditure per student at the SSS level, however, has increased significantly since 1992. The unit costs of technical and vocational education have increased since falling in the mid-1990s. By level of education, the most dramatic change in the unit costs has been the increase in cost per student in teacher education. In real terms, the annual unit cost of teacher education increased by 79.5 per cent between 1992 and 1995, and then by 39.5 per cent between 1995 and 1998. The unit cost of polytechnic students more than doubled between 1992 and 1998, but in 1998 was only about one-third of the unit cost of teacher education and a quarter of the unit cost of university. Over the same period, the university student unit declined by 37.5 per cent. Thus, the disparity in unit costs between these forms of tertiary education has been closing.

Education sector capital expenditure represents a small share of total public investment. Over the period 1987-1995, however, it increased about fivefold in real terms. This represented a change from 0.7 to 1.4 per cent of government capital expenditure. In 1996, however, education capital expenditure had fallen to 1 per cent of total government capital outlay (World Bank 1999:8). Most investment expenditure is financed from external funds in the form of development assistance from donor agencies. Until the introduction of new budgeting procedures in 1999 under the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) donor assistance was not included in sector budgets. Table 1.13 shows the sources and distribution of fCUBE capital funding, including donor assistance, during the period 1996-1998.

Table 1.13: Source of fCUBE funding 1996-1998

source of funding

GOG

IDA (PSDP)

IDA (BESIP)

USAID

DFID

UNICEF/CIDA

KfW/ GTZ

JICA

% contributed

19%

40%

11%

5%

7%

4%

12%

3%

Source: MOE, 1998, in Avotri et al. 1999:31

Under fCUBE, donor support has tended to go towards the capital costs of specific projects. Some of the larger projects include the Primary School Development Programme (PSDP) funded by IDA, support to BESIP again through IDA, and the rehabilitation of the teacher training colleges by KfW.

The government’s policy of increased community participation in education has empowered districts to assume grater responsibility for education. They receive payments from the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) which represents 5 per cent of national tax revenue from central government, for the development of the district. Education is partly financed from the DACF. In addition, districts generate income, mostly through education levies and fund raising activities. At the school level, the Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) also embark on various development projects to support basic education. District assemblies are responsible for the building and maintenance of physical facilities (classrooms, furniture, etc.) for basic schools. Again, until the introduction of the new budget procedure in 1999 district level expenditure on basic education was not accounted for by the MOE budget figures. At the time of writing no data were available on the aggregate proportion of total basic education expenditure raised by the DACFs or PTAs.

1.9 Teachers

The promotion of quality teaching and learning has important implications for restructuring the current system of initial teacher education in Ghana. Improved quality in teaching and learning, with subsequent increased levels of achievement at the basic school level, calls for a certain kind of teacher who is capable of delivering effectively revised school curricula and promoting efficient learning in schools. The MOE identified inadequate numbers of trained and qualified teachers, and ineffective initial teacher training provided by the TTCs, as key factors contributing to the poor level of pupil achievement.8 According to the MOE (1993:23),

[The TTCs] are inefficient in producing effective teachers since the trainees and the tutors have so little exposure to actual schools and classrooms, and academic content is taught and tested above practical teaching methodology. The college curriculum also does not differentiate sufficiently between primary and JSS methodology.

8 The MOE (1994:16-17) argues that although private schools in Accra and Kumasi have both higher pupil-ratios (averaging over 40:1), and only 25 per cent trained teachers, pupils in these private schools perform better than their counterparts in the public schools. This argument, however, appears based on raw test results, unadjusted for the socio-economic background of pupils and other school factors.

Some of the practices in training colleges that are believed to have contributed to the poor performance of trained teachers in schools with an attendant effect on the academic performances of pupils are summarised as follows:

· Emphasis on academic content in the training programme above training in practical teaching.

· Lack of exposure to actual schools and work in the classrooms.

· Inadequate of actual training in classroom methodology.

· Lack of content and opportunity for the education and training of teachers to prepare them for handling the new directions and management issues which are some of the outcomes of the education reform programme, e.g. teaching large classes and multi-grade teaching.

Another dimension of the problem of quality of teaching and learning is the proportion of untrained teachers (defined as those teachers who have not completed a pre-service training course at a Teacher Training College) in basic schools. In 1996 the number of teachers at the public primary level was 62,634 and 38,016 in public junior secondary schools (MOE, 1999:6).

Table 1.14: Total and percentage of trained and untrained teachers at primary level (public schools), 1986-94

year

total

trained

untrained

pupil-teacher ratio

pupil-trained teacher ratio



total

%

total

%



1986/87

64,359

35,912

55.8

28,447

44.2

22.8

40.9

1987/88

63,367

36,689

57.9

26,678

42.1

23.3

40.2

1988/89

62,670

37,790

60.3

24,880

39.7

25.5

42.3

1989/90

62,859

41,738

66.4

21,121

33.6

27.1

40.8

1990/91

62,823

41,526

66.1

21,297

33.9

28.7

43.4

1991/92

64,035

46,169

72.1

17,866

27.9

28.1

39.0

1993/94

62,614

47,796

76.3

14,845

23.6

-

-

1995/96

60,607

52,690

86.9

7,917

13.1

-

-

Source: MOE 1994; MOE 1995; TED 1997

Notes:

1) Trained teachers are defined as those teachers who received initial training from a TTC.

2) The total number of untrained teachers includes National Service Personnel working as teachers.

3) In 1991, of the 62,823 teachers in service, 8.8 per cent (5,530) were ‘detached’, i.e. not teaching because they were in administrative posts or on study leave. In 1992, however, a Government policy was introduced to move trained teachers working in administrative posts back into the classroom (Konadu, 1994:39)

Table 1.15: Total and percentage of trained and untrained teachers at JSS level (public schools), 1986-96

year

total

trained

untrained

pupil-teacher ratio

pupil-trained teacher ratio



total

%

total

%



1986/87

33,443

21,805

65.2

11,638

34.8

18.6

28.5

1987/88

40,528

27,275

67.3

13,253

22.7

15.1

22.4

1988/89

34,584

24,831

71.8

9,753

28.2

17.6

24.5

1989/90

35,262

22,885

64.9

12,377

35.1

17.7

27.3

1990/91

30,708

23,307

75.9

7,401

24.1

18.5

24.4

1991/92

33,351

23,979

71.9

9,372

28.1

17.7

24.6

1992/93

25,386

23,558

92.8

1,828

7.2

-

-

1995/96

29,669

25,782

86.9

3,887

13.1

-

-

Source: MOE 1994; TED 1997

Note: At the time of writing no reference could be found which details the sharp increase of 1992/93 in the number of trained JSS teachers as a percentage of all JSS teachers. It is apparent from the absolute totals, however, that this was due to the sharp drop in the number of untrained JSS teachers in the system rather than a substantial influx of trained JSS teachers.

Total numbers of trained and untrained teachers at the primary and JSS levels are presented in Tables 1.14 and 1.15. In 1989, 66 per cent of primary school teachers were trained, while for the JSS level, the figure was 65 per cent. By 1995, these figures had risen to 87 and 90 per cent, respectively. In line with the objectives of the 1987 education reforms, the total number of untrained teachers at the basic level has steadily decreased, but the latest figures for 1995 suggest that the proportion of untrained teachers remains significant at 13 per cent.

Table 1.14 shows that while the pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level steadily increased from 23:1 in 1986/87 to 28:1 in 1991/92, the pupil-trained teacher ratio has remained fairly constant, fluctuating around 40:1. Thus by 1991/92, although a primary teacher was more likely to be trained, on average he or she taught larger classes. Data presented in Table 1.15 indicates that at the JSS level the pupil-teacher ratio fell from 18.6 in 1986/87 to 17.7 by 1991/92, and the pupil-trained teacher ratio fell from 28.5 to 24.6. By 1991/92, JSS teachers were more likely to be trained and teach fewer pupils. Recent data from MOE estimates pupil-teacher ratios at the primary and JSS levels as 32.4 and 18.3, respectively for 1996 (MOE, 1999:6).

Konadu (1994:36) notes that in 1990/91, the Ghana Education Service (GES) deployed 4,727 newly qualified teachers (NQTs) to posts in primary and JSS schools. In 1991/92, 9183 NQTs were deployed. Using these figures together with data presented in Tables 1.14 and 1.15, the rate of attrition among trained teachers for the academic years 1990/91 and 1991/92 is calculated as 7.0 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.9 Reports suggest the rate of annual trained teacher attrition is high due to inadequate remuneration, lack of promotional prospects, and low social status of teaching (Bame, 1991; World Bank, 1996:5). No recent data is available on the annual rate of teacher attrition. Research needs to be carried out to find out how long newly trained teachers stay in the profession and why those who choose to leave do so (e.g. relatively low status and/or remuneration, retirement, HIV/AIDS). These are issues requiring further exploration through policy research to inform teacher-posting policy and thereby ensure that projections of teacher requirements can be realistically met.

9 Data on NQT deployment disaggregated by level of schooling, i.e. primary and JSS, were not available at the time of writing.

Table 1.16 presents data showing the numbers of trained and untrained teachers in primary schools across the ten regions of Ghana in 1993. The more remote and disadvantaged regions of Western, Brong-Ahafo and Northern, have the highest proportion of untrained to trained teachers at the primary level.10 It is clear that significant regional disparities exist. These are partly due to absolute resource limitations but can be attributed largely to the process of resource distribution which favours the more economically advantaged areas of the country (World Bank, 1996:8). The problem is exacerbated by the significant proportion of trained teachers that refuse postings to the more economically deprived areas of the country. Officials in the Teacher Education Directorate (TED) of the MOE point out that there is evidence that some urban districts have more trained teachers than they require, and yet in each year some of these urban districts declare shortages in teachers.

10 Data on the proportion of trained to untrained JSS teachers by region were not available.

Table 1.16: Distribution of trained and untrained teachers at primary level (public schools) by region, 1993/94

region

trained

untrained

total


number

%

number

%


Ashanti

8,543

81.1

1,993

18.9

10,536

Brong Ahafo

4,750

62.2

2,885

37.8

7,635

Central

4,456

74.1

1,557

25.9

6,013

Eastern

8,377

79.5

2,164

20.5

10,541

Gt. Accra

4,541

95.8

199

4.2

4,740

Northern

3,366

66.1

1,724

33.9

5,090

Upper East

1,622

86.8

247

13.2

1,869

Upper West

1,552

97.8

35

2.2

1,587

Volta

6,376

86.5

991

13.5

7,367

Western

4,186

57.8

3,050

42.2

7,236

Total

47,769

76.3

14,845

23.7

62,614

Source: adapted from MOE 1995:14

Table 1.17 shows that there are districts in the country where up to 75 per cent of teachers remain untrained.

Table 1.17: Trained Teachers Characteristics by Neediest Districts

District

% of Total

Juabesobia

25.38

Tolon-Gunbugu

28.33

Afram Plains

32.26

Sene

38.89

Savelugunan

39.50

Twifu-Heman

42.30

East Gonja

43.63

Mpohor Wassa

45.27

Wassa-Amenfi

46.34

Asunafo

46.61

Atebubu

46.69

Sefwi-Wiaso

48.53

Zabuzugutatale

49.21

Adansi East

49.25

Amansie West

49.78

Source: Extracted from World Bank Report, 1996

It is interesting to note that private schools often have the least number of trained teachers and yet from the PREP CRT results such schools out-perform their counterparts in the public schools. Available statistics from the PBME Division of the Ministry of Education show that in 1993, for example, the percentage of trained teachers in the public primary schools was 73.3 per cent, while in the private primary schools the percentage of trained teachers was only 28.6 per cent. This obviously raises questions about the policy of increasing trained teachers in schools with the aim to promote greater achievements in pupil learning outcomes. School information data collected as part of the MOE/PREP criterion-referenced tests administration shows that the private schools have a clear advantage over the public schools in the following respects:

· Greater control and supervision of teachers
· Effective School Management Board
· Interest of parents in what their children learn
· Open days which bring teachers, parents and children together
· Availability of proportionately more instructional materials
(MOE/PREP 1996:28)

Thus, it would appear that effective school management systems, community participation in school development and increased instructional materials in schools are crucial for schools to enhance pupil learning outcomes, and that merely increasing the percentage of trained teachers without such supportive structures will not yield the desired results.

Nevertheless, the general lack of correspondence between trained teacher availability in schools and pupil performance as revealed by the CRT results raises questions about the quality of teachers and their ability to effect improvements in pupil learning. If in real terms the contribution from their training is minimal then it is necessary to re-examine the training curriculum of TTCs to make it perhaps more responsive to the current problems of pupil learning achievement, lack of instructional materials and ineffective school management systems. Besides, it will inform the policy of replacing ‘untrained’ teachers with trained ones and whether time and money should be spent on training the ‘untrained’ or providing the necessary management support system for all categories of teachers in schools to deliver quality learning. Ultimately, this would have important implications for the policy of teacher demand and supply.

1.10 Conclusion

This chapter has provided an overview of basic education in Ghana. It describes the structure of the basic education cycle, trends in enrolment and participation, patterns of expenditure across educational levels, and key policy reforms. Teacher education in Ghana has received far less attention than education at the school level despite inadequate numbers of trained teachers, and the poor quality of teaching and learning outcomes. It is imperative that initial teacher education for basic education is analysed more closely than it has been to date, and given a higher priority in the implementation of educational reforms. The background information presented in this chapter informs the critical analysis of teacher education in subsequent chapters.