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Whitman College

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Program Name

Ghana: Social Transformation and Cultural Expression

Abstract

Methodology: I lived in two Ashanti farming villages, Senchi and Okaikrom, for a total of eight days with four additional day trips. I also commuted to two other rural communities in the Sekyere East district. In these villages I conducted a total of 28 formal interviews of three headmasters, four primary teachers, 10 JHS teachers, nine JHS students, and two nurses. Within the schools I conducted a few group interviews and polls to gain quantitative data about student interest and education aspiration. I visited the regional and district offices of education where I spoke with five administration officials within various sectors. These professional meetings helped me gather concrete information about the interworking of Ghana’s public education system. To gain perspective on conditions and attitudes in farming communities, I traveled throughout these villages and informally discussed student attendance and academic performance with students and parents alike. All interviews with teachers, education administrators, and nurses were conducted in English, while the interviews with students and community members were supervised and translated by local teachers. Pre-determined inquiries were set for every interview, but I allowed for flexibility and asked follow-up questions to particular answers I found deserved further investigation.

Findings: The quantitative and qualitative data collected indicates that within farming communities, students in public basic schools are not pursuing higher education. Although parents and community members declare the importance of education for their children, many students are left unfunded and unsupervised to make their own value judgments about school. Truancy and drop-out rates are high, particularly among Form 3 JHS students who report financial problems and disinterest as the main causes for their absence. Schools lack adequate funding, resources, and learning materials to provide students with the quality basic education promised by national policy. Those who do have access higher education emigrate out of these rural communities, leaving the villages with the persisting problem of limited opportunities and no role models for students to emulate.

Conclusion: The intended goals of Ghana’s public education system are not being realized in Ashanti farming communities. Students and parents proclaim that education is important for a successful life, but their prevailing behaviors and interactions with the school suggest otherwise. The root of the problem cannot be isolated to one factor; low socio-economic conditions, government unresponsiveness, and incompatible community norms are all interconnected causes that deny children access to a quality education. From policy-makers to student peers, responsibility lies on all parties to promote and ensure an environment suitable for learning and growth.

Disciplines

Archaeological Anthropology | Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Social and Cultural Anthropology

 

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