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THE NATURE OF EDUCATION IN GHANA WEST AFRICA

Ghana has one of the best-developed educational systems in the whole of Africa. There are three main levels. The elementary pre-primary, primary and middle, secondary technical and teacher training and the University level.

    Primary School – 6 years
    Junior High School – 3 years
    Senior High School – 3 years
    College of Education-3 years DBE
    Nurses College – 3 years
    University Bachelor’s Degree – 4 years

Language:  The sole official language of instruction throughout the Ghanaian educational system is English.  Students may study in any of eleven local languages for much of the first three years, after which English becomes the medium.  Students continue to study a local language and French as classroom subjects through at least the ninth grade.  All textbooks and materials are otherwise in English.

Pre-Primary and Primary Education:

Education for most children begins at the age of five or six, only a small number, mostly in the larger urban centers, begin at the age of three or four in pre-primary or nursery schools. Education at the primary level lasts for six years. Primary school education is free and will be mandatory when teachers and facilities are available to accommodate all the students.

Junior High School (JHS):

A Pupil qualifies to enter into the JHS after successful completion of the Primary level.Education at the JHS level is also free for allpupils. At the JHS, English, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Integrated Science including Agricultural Science, a Ghanaian language, Technical, Vocational, Information and Communication.

Senior High School (SHS):

Entry into the secondary level is by a nationwide competitive examination organized by the West African Examination Council (WAEC). Candidates will have to sit the Basic Education Certificate Examination in Mathematics, English Integrated Science, Social Studies, Technical and Vocational subjects before gaining admission into Junior Secondary School for three years. After this level one may decide to enter a technical or vocational institute or alternatively sit for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) also organized by WAEC. Subjects taken at this level are Mathematics, Integrated Science, English, Social Studies, Technical and Vocational Subjects. Upon passing one may choose to go to the University, Polytechnic College of Education or Nurses Training college.

Over 280,000 Ghanaian students take the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) at the end of JHS 3 (ninth grade) in nine or ten subjects.  Admission to Senior High School is competitive: only 70,000 students can be admitted into the 500 secondary schools.  The leading public secondary schools sending students to the United States include Achimota School, Wesley Girls’ HS, Presbyterian Boys’ High School, Mfantsipim School, Holy Child School, St. Augustine’s College, Prempeh College, each graduating 300-700 students annually.  The private high schools in the country are Ghana International and Faith Montessori (A-level curriculum), SOS-Herman Gmeiner International College, Tema International, and Lincoln Community (IB curriculum), and Ghana Christian International  (WASSCE and A-levels); these institutions together graduate a total of 200 students each year.

In the public schools, all students take a Core curriculum consisting of English Language, Integrated Science, Mathematics, and Social Studies.  Each student also takes three or four Elective subjects, chosen from one of seven groups: Sciences, “Arts” (social sciences and humanities), Vocational (visual arts or home economics), Technical, Business, or Agriculture. The secondary school transcript should contain a letter or percentage grade for each subject, for each of three terms, for the three years of Senior High School, equivalent to the tenth through twelfth grades. Students’ Term Reports (report cards) contain rank in class for each subject as well as grades for classwork and end of term exams. The grading system is tough: 80-100% is usually an A, a grade rarely awarded. Transcripts with all A’s are unlikely to be genuine.

At the end of Senior High School (twelfth grade), all students take the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination, or WASSCE, (SSCE through 2005; WASSCE beginning in 2006) in each of their seven or eight subjects. These exams are given nationwide in May-June each year, but the results are not available until the following October. Grading is exceptionally tough: fewer than 3% of grades are A’s, and 40% of students fail any given exam. C’s and D’s can be quite competitive grades.

The minimum university standard for admission to post-secondary education is a ‘C-’ average on the SSSCE, with passes (A-E) in all subjects.  U.S. universities should not admit Ghanaian students who have not attained at least this level. Students are expected to retake exams in subjects they have failed. Colleges should require a photocopy of the SSSCE Statement of Results bearing an original signature and stamp from the headmaster or headmistress, as well as the transcript. You are strongly encouraged to verify these documents at source, through the West African Examinations Council’s online system at http://ghana.waecdirect.org. The student provides you with a PIN number that they purchase for the equivalent of $3 (available any post office or WAEC regional office), that is used to retrieve a printable copy of their WAEC results. This is the fastest and most reliable way of verifying a student’s results from Ghana

University Education:

Ghana’s tertiary institutions enroll over 100,000 students in undergraduate, graduate, certificate and diploma programs in a full range of academic and professional fields.

Twenty-one private institutions are also accredited by the National Accreditation Board (www.nab.gov.gh) to award Bachelor’s degrees. Their enrollment totals less than 5,000, but they are expected to become a recognized force during the next decade. Ten public polytechnics offer three-year Higher National Diplomas in applied business and technology fields. The HND is not equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree, but undergraduate transfer credit can be awarded, as is also the case for Teacher Training Colleges and other tertiary non-degree programs.

Ghanaian university admission is highly competitive, especially in fields such as medicine, engineering, law, and pharmacy. The quality of education is considered reasonably high, evidence that human resources are more significant than material resources. In an effort to attract international enrollment, all Ghanaian universities operate on a modular, semester system. The University of Ghana is committed to 10% international population and attracts significant numbers of American students, as well as students from Africa and Europe.  The United Nations University operates several programs on campus in fields of health and development.

Ghanaians in the United States:3,664 Ghanaians are enrolled in U.S. institutions. Their influence is significant: in 2008, newly enrolling Ghanaian students were awarded $8 million in financial assistance for study in the United States. Ghana is one of the few countries in Africa whose public school graduates can attain admission to the most competitive universities in the United States.

Testing: The SAT is offered six times a year at four locations in two cities.  The GRE, GMAT and TOEFL are offered every day at computer-based test centers in Accra. Although we want students to demonstrate their commitment and competitiveness, we advocate the use of testing only as warranted, and discourage institutions from requiring the TOEFL of students who can adequately demonstrate their English proficiency by other means.

Educational Advising: The Educational Advising Centers in Accra and Kumasi sponsored by the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy serve over 20,000 students per year in a wide range of programs designed to strengthen students’ applications and their readiness for U.S. higher education. We are eager to work with you to make it possible for more Ghanaian students to enroll in your institution. Please contact the Educational Advisors, in Accra or Kumasi, and refer your Ghanaian applicants to us for any assistance that we can provide.

Accra:
Ben Fiebor
FieborB@state.gov
Phone: 233-21-741116
Fax: 233-21-741692

Bernice Affotey
Affoteyb@state.gov
Phone: 233-21-741531
Fax: 233-21-741692

Kumasi:
Marilyn Owusu
mdrowus@yahoo.com
Phone: 233-24-436-9027




The Ministry of Education was established under the Civil Service Law 327 and under the PNDC Law 1993 with the mandate to provide relevant education to all Ghanaians. The Ministry is committed to put in place an education system focused on promoting creativity and problem-solving through the development of academics, technical and vocational programmes that will improve the acquisition of skills and assure job-market readiness.

Vision
To provide relevant education to all Ghanaians at all levels to enable them to acquire skills that will assist them to develop their potential in order to be productive, promotion of technology culture at all levels of society to facilitate poverty reduction and to promote socio-economic growth and national development.

Mission
To formulate and implement policies that would ensure quality and accessible education to all Ghanaian with requisite skills to achieve human development, good health, poverty reduction, national integration and international recognition.

Functions
For the purpose of achieving its objective, the Ministry performs the following functions:

    Initiate and formulate policy options on Education for the consideration of government;
    Initiate and advise on government plans;
    Undertake such research as maybe necessary for the effective implementation of government policies;
    Review government policies and plans;
    Coordinate and monitor the implementation of sector policies and strategies

We are responsible for
Working towards achieving the overall goal of providing relevant and quality education for all Ghanaians including the disadvantaged, to enable them acquire skills, which will help make them functionally literate and productive to facilitate poverty alleviation and promote rapid socio-economic growth. This makes the Ministry responsible for:

    Expanding access to quality education at all levels of education.
    Providing and improving infrastructural facilities.
    Providing free education at the basic level.
    Making tertiary education more cost effective
    Raising the quality of teaching and learning for effective outcomes
    Making education more relevant to national goals and aspirations by focusing on technical and vocational education
    Establish a well co-ordinated and integrated system of scientific, technological and social innovation for public private sector partnership and development.

Service

    Process all incoming mails after they have been received
    Guarantee that all clients are attended to on arrival at the Ministry's Clients' office.
    Timely provision of information to Clients, Stakeholders and Partners on request
    Vet, process and effect payments of claims after all relevant documents have been received
    Preparation of sector reports

    We serve to
        Improve management for efficiency within the education sector.
        Improve quality of teaching and learning at all levels
        Improve access to and help participants in education and training
        Decentralize the education management system
        Promote Accountability and transparency
        Promote Equity
        Create a culture within which the advancement of scientific knowledge is valued as essential component of national development.

        Courtesy and Cooperation
            Friendly and courteous Client Service Personnel willing and ready to serve at all times
            All office doors are clearly marked to facilitate easy identification
            All comments and queries received will be accorded the needed attention
            Staff ID and visitor cards will be made available.

        WHAT WE EXPECT FROM INTERNAL CLIENTS, PARTNERS AND STAKEHOLDERS
            Clients should ensure that all necessary documents are properly prepared before submitting them for claims.
            Be courteous and polite to our staff and demand the same from them.
            To assist the ministry in the discharge of its functions by collaborating with staff and providing them with the needed information.
            To report first at the client service desk for enquiries and information.
            Request for information from Partners, Clients and Stakeholders should be indicated on an official letter.

        INFORMATION TRANSPARENCY AND CONVENIENCE
            The Ministry will at all times endeavour to furnish Clients and Stakeholders as well as Partners with required information.
            Newsletters, brochures and other items of information will be available on the Ministry\'s website for downloads and also at the information desk in the Ministry (ground floor).
            Information on the Ministry and its agencies (current updates) are available on the Ministry\'s website for the general public.


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