Almost 90% Of Ghana’s Children Are Now In School

Cecilia Abanga, an 18-year-old girl from a remote part of northeastern Ghana, believes that school is more important for girls than boys. She comes from a large family of subsistence farmers who struggle to make ends meet and afford the costs of educating their children. Cecilia, however, is determined to get an education, and she hopes to build a better life for herself in the future. Despite facing numerous challenges, including the lack of reliable electricity, she attends high school every day from 8am until 2pm.

Cecilia’s brother Ayabil, on the other hand, has never been to school, and he spends his days tending to the family’s plot of onions. He is envious of his sister’s education and the opportunities it affords her. Nevertheless, he is resigned to his fate and has accepted that he may never have the chance to go to school himself.

Despite the challenges they face, both Cecilia and Ayabil understand the importance of education for their future. Cecilia believes that education is a right that everyone should have access to, while Ayabil recognizes that learning is crucial for success in any endeavor.

As soil fertility in the area becomes depleted and climate change takes its toll, the future of farming in the region is uncertain. Education is seen as a key way to help farmers adapt to these changing conditions, and organizations like ActionAid are working to fund education projects in the area.

Overall, the story of Cecilia and Ayabil highlights the challenges facing children in rural Ghana. Despite these challenges, however, there is hope that education can help to break the cycle of poverty and open up new opportunities for young people in the region.

Prior to the launch of a fresh parcel of UN objectives that will extend beyond universal primary education to encompass life-long learning, approximately 440,000 primary-aged Ghanaian children – out of a global total of 58 million currently studying, 30 million of which are in sub-Saharan Africa – are without education. Accompanied by the Global Campaign for Education and two UK teenagers, I travelled to Ghana to discover why this is so. The headteacher of Ninkogo, Musah Mariama Ariatin, is awaiting a new school building that will enable her to halve the 100 to 200-strong classes at present.

For many children, obstacles to education exist, including poor sight or hearing, and severe disabilities that keep them housebound. Pregnant girls are often forced to give up school, with poor sanitation hindering menstruating girls. A case involving an unqualified teacher who laid his pupils on the ground as punishment highlighted school discipline issues and deterred some parents.

The Progressive People’s Party wants Ghana’s government to uphold the law that ensures children access free education, a case that the Supreme Court will rule on soon. However, sanctions against parents proved impractical as most cannot afford to pay fines and the country lacks a social welfare system to support children in the absence of their guardians. The inadequate resources – teachers, classrooms, toilets, computers, paper – are the major constraint, with financial pressures increasing as contributions by international donors decrease. The 1,200 learners at Ninkogo school only had blackboards as learning aids.

Aid money spent globally on education is shockingly low at 4%, according to the Global Campaign for Education’s David Archer, who claims that developing governments are investing better in education than aid organisations. Education is not a quick fix, and Archer warns that patience and perseverance is needed.

In another village that I visited, a girl named Lariba Atibilla, aged around 11 or 12, has not been to school due to a combination of shyness, low self-esteem and depression brought on by her father’s death. Lariba’s main enjoyment comes from doing the washing up, which she finds sociable and less painful than collecting dung with her mother. On the other hand, Gabriel Anaba, 14, is a brilliant student who enjoys eating rice and stew, and dreams of becoming a doctor or a footballer. His friend Joseph Alabilla, 15, feels embarrassed around his 10-year-old classmates, but aims to further his education by attending university and training to become a nurse or teacher. However, both face a long and costly journey to achieve their goals, with senior boarding schools costing approximately £8 annually, in addition to registration fees and test charges.

According to Emily Pemberton, a 15-year-old advocate for the Send My Friend to School campaign, gender equality in UK schools is nearly optimal. She and George Watts from Ysgol Gyfun Plasmawr, a Welsh-speaking school in Cardiff, were selected as young ambassadors and awarded the Steve Sinnott award, created in memory of the former NUT general secretary. Both Emily and George actively participate in campaigns addressing inequalities in schools. While Emily focuses on feminism and anti-racism, George advocates against homophobia.

Naana Jane Opuku-Agyemang, Ghana’s former university vice-chancellor, is now the country’s female education minister. Ghana has an impressive track record in girls’ education, and schools receive additional funding for female pupils. However, issues such as poor sanitation, early pregnancy, sexual harassment, and forced marriage continue to persist.

In Ghana, it is noteworthy that there are equal numbers of girls and boys enrolled in school. Emily and George visited girls’ clubs and groups in the rural northeast and Accra. They were impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of these groups, who work towards making a difference from their own initiative. Emily and George also observed the challenges that girls in Ghana still face, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), rape, domestic violence, and teachers taking advantage of their female students.

The Global Campaign for Education UK and the National Union of Teachers funded Susanna Rustin’s trip. Schools can obtain free packs at


  • reubenyoung

    Reuben Young is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been teaching in the United States for over 10 years, and has written extensively on educational topics. He is also a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and has been honored with several awards.



Reuben Young is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been teaching in the United States for over 10 years, and has written extensively on educational topics. He is also a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and has been honored with several awards.

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