Education System in Ghana
I wasn't entirely sure how to write this follow up post from our presentation last Thursday on the education system in Ghana. When I emailed Alice she sent the following to me: "perspective/analysis: what was important to you about what you learned and tried to convey? What did it shed light on (new insights, questions)? What did you learn from selecting what to share? How did that connect with what you are interested in already?"
I want to first start with discussing choosing the topic and how the topic grew. I chose the topic mostly because I'm a straightforward and I wanted a straightforward topic. Also, I found it interesting that in class we were discussing Ghana and its education system in terms of literacy, without really knowing anything about its education system. I felt that this topic was a necessary groundwork. I mentioned in class that when researching for this topic, many of the articles/resources were from an American perspective (one even went as far to mention outright that that certain article was for American students looking to study in Ghana or Ghanaian students looking to pursue their tertiary degree in America). The other information I was able to find were from governmental resources or international education resources. I had expected to find more sources almost from the "people" of Ghana about their education system, although I realize now that that might not be considered "official" information.
I was really intrigued when reading about secondary education (particularly JSS) and primary education that religious morals were not only taught, but required. When exploring senior secondary school, one of the tracks (which I referred to as "major lite") includes General Arts, where either Islamic or Christian studies is an option as a class. I was really excited when another person brought this up in class at the end of the presentation. As a consensus during discussion, it seemed like many of us (or at least some) would be interested in further researching religious and/or moral education in the Ghanaian system, and although I haven't taken it upon myself to do that, I think it would be an interesting topic. For example, why do they only study Christian or Islamic religions and not Judaism or Hinduism? How do they study religions (do they memorize and read scripture or do they discuss the history of the religion, or maybe both)? These seemed to be the issues brought up in discussion that I think are definitely worth persuing.
One thing I was disappointed in that we were unable to discuss due to time constraints (that we had on the last slide of our powerpoint) was a comparison of the Ghanaian system to the American system. It was mentioned several times, almost in a somewhat negative light maybe, that tertiary education was fairly new to the country as compared to the US. I think it's necessary to point out that the country only gained independence in 1957, with the Education Act being passed in 1961. In my opinion, in regards to the amount of time that the education system has been in place, I find it to be fairly impressive that tertiary education was in place about 30 years after the main education act.
I was struck by how difficult the grading system is there as well. During our Skype conversation the night before, the speaker mentioned that grades are so prevalent there, that even six year olds are having their pictures graded. I compared what I learned in that discussion regarding entrance into SSS and exam grading. For example, only 4% of Ghanaians who take the entrance exams for schooling receive the highest grade of a 1. If admission to schools are only based on this entrance exam, and the exams are so strictly and harshly graded, then it should be expected that very few students are actually able to attend tertiary school. Is this a problem? Does this limit a person's right to education? Should almost "easier" schools be established so those with lower exam scores are able to attend? Is it a problem with exam grading, tertiary admission, or just the entire education system? Even here I have a tendency to compare Ghana to America in this sense where here, we have schools for all ranges of scores, from technical schools to Ivy Leagues to small select liberal arts schools (yay Bryn Mawr!) Should this type of range not be set up in Ghana, as well? Should we even compare the situations considering it's a different population? I struggle with though, how can we tell Ghanaian teachers not to grade everything from exams to pictures done by a six year old when here in America we "teach for the test".
These are just some of the main issues I grapple with from my presentation. I'd love to hear thoughts!