Ascertaining the Challenges of North-south Collaboration in Educational Development in Ghana
1.1 Background To The Study
Ghana’s education growth has been hampered by numerous problems, including repeated changes in education policies and economic difficulties, such as governance instability following multiple military takeovers and rising oil prices in the early days. In the 1970s, the country’s economy was in a downturn, and the education sector suffered resource restrictions. As a result of political insecurity, special precautions were implemented in place, and educational programmes were changed on a regular basis. Because the majority of early leavers were illiterate, the teaching and learning environment in primary schools deteriorated, which had previously been a source of concern in Ghana. Trust in the enviable educational system was shaken. Policy changes in the education system have taken the form of evaluations and reforms. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, for example, began on a significant expansion of the education system in 1951 in order to accelerate the pace of educational growth on the (then) Gold Coast. This was in response to public demand for education and the aim of the new African administration to create a planned effort to eradicate illiteracy. Following Ghana’s independence in 1957, this initiative was followed by a series of advances. According to the findings of the research, the next 35 years in Ghana’s education system saw a wide spectrum of breakthroughs and reform attempts. During this period, three major stages of reform can be identified. The first stage is represented by the 1951 Accelerated Development Plan (ADP) for Education and the Educational Act of 1961, which resulted in the 1974 Plan. The new military administration of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) in 1981 brought forth more reforms. The Education Act of 1961, which enabled free, universal, and compulsory basic education for all children aged six and above, provided legal backing for the Accelerated Development Plan (ADP). Primary education expanded fast and consistently, and enrollments more than doubled. Ghana was thought to have Africa’s most sophisticated education system (Foster, 1965; Scadding, 1989). Recognizing the significance of trained teachers in the enlarged system, the Education Act of 1961 established new teacher training institutes, extended existing ones, and provided for the field training of unqualified teachers through different emergency and short-term in-service training programmes. Despite the fact that school enrollments increased as a result of the 1961 Education Act, the quality of teaching and learning appears to have stayed steady. The modifications implemented to deal with increased child enrollments were insufficient to achieve a balance between the quantity and quality of education delivered. The shortage of trained teachers in schools was the most major element influencing the imbalance. More teachers were needed as the number of schools increased, and as a result, more pupil teachers (i.e., untrained teachers) were employed to educate, resulting in poor teaching and learning in schools during this era. In the 1970s, the Dzobo Committee spearheaded more reform (Dzobo, 1974). As a result of the Committee’s work, the government implemented the first significant post-independence reform in pre-university education in 1974. This reform is known colloquially as “The New Structure and Content of Education” (NSCE). It shortened pre-tertiary education from 17 to 12 years (i.e. it went from a pattern of 6-4-0-5-2 to one of 6-3-3). The objective was to allow school graduates to leave the system at any time and with skills that would allow them to find work. The reform was intended to raise standards at all levels, guaranteeing that educational standards were not jeopardized by the reduction in the number of years spent in pre-tertiary education. The content of the reform program intended to improve vocational pre-university education in Ghana by making it more relevant and focused on contextual demands and barriers. It was also a risky attempt to reduce educational spending. However, Dzobo’s (1974) strong sentiments were insufficient to secure the implementation of the 1974 Education Reform, nor did they influence the public and educational establishment’s attitudes (Kadingdi, 2004). Despite its noble goals, the NSCE had little lasting impact on the country’s general education system. There were still unqualified teachers in the education system, insufficient resources to support teaching and learning in schools, and barriers for teachers within the context and content demands of the curriculum. The country’s economic stagnation during the military government known as the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) in 1983 worsened the problem (Kadingdi, 2004). Government funding were no longer available to construct, complete, or even maintain existing educational institutions, and the economic collapse led in a significant migration of qualified teachers to other parts of the continent. As a reduction, the number of trained and untrained teachers in the primary education sector has significantly decreased. Speaking on the state of the education system at the time, Abdallah (1986), then Secretary of Education, stated: “The quality of education at all levels has deteriorated drastically over the previous decade.” The physical infrastructure for the supply of facilities, equipment, materials, and teaching aids, among other things, has virtually crumbled. The PNDC has opted to conduct a comprehensive educational reform program in order to address these reforms (Abdallah, 1986). As a result of these circumstances, educational reforms were implemented in 1987, reducing the length of pre-university education from 17 to 12 years. It focused on comprehensively reforming the whole pre-tertiary education system, increasing access via infrastructure supply, and making the curriculum more responsive to social and economic demands.
The New Educational Reform Programme (NERP), according to a Ministry of Education Report (MOE, 1988), attempted to “salvage the educational system and make it more meaningful to the individual and the nation as a whole” (emphasis in the original).
It is thus worthy noting that, while identical in structure and content to the NSCE reform, there was a significant improvement on the latter with a new curriculum that represented major changes at the basic education level. In 1996, the reform gave birth to the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) agenda. It was distinguished by Ghana‘s participation in and support for international agreements such as Education for All, the Declaration on the Rights of the Child, the Beijing Declaration on the Rights of the Woman, and the Lome Convention. This meant that the government had to stick to its constitutional commitments as a guideline for policy, which were impacted by the bilateral and international discussions in which it had participated. Also crucial during this period was the government’s strong desire to reform the education system by leaving no stone unturned in restructuring the nation’s economic base to bring it into compliance with the World Bank’s financial credibility standards. With this criteria met, Ghana was able to negotiate for credits and grants to fund massive education reforms. Aside from World Bank credits, several donor agencies came to Ghana’s aid in reform implementation, the majority of which was devoted for basic education. Although Ghana has had successive military rulers since 1966, the year 1987 signaled a shift in government thinking (Kadingdi, 2004).
The launch of the World Bank-supported education infrastructure program resulted in the construction of around 2000 pavilions to support the school system. The goals of the 1987 NERP as summed up in the Sector Adjustment Policy Document of the World Bank (World Bank, 1986) included the following:
(i) To expand access to education;
(ii) To improve the quality of education;
(iii) To make education more relevant to meeting the needs and aspirations of individuals and the socio-economic conditions of the country;
(iv) To re-structure pre-university education to 12 years (6-3-3); and
(v) To ensure cost-effectiveness and cost-recovery.
(Source: Ministry of Education Report (MOE, 1998)
Finally, much-needed statistics for critical educational planning were lacking, resulting in impromptu decisions. This was a time when Ghana received a great deal of support from established wealthier countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The’success story of Ghana’s Economic Recovery Programme of 1983′ was the impetus for this financial support. As a result, the reform was aided by a World Bank Sector Adjustment Credit, grants from the United nation Development Programme (UNDP), Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Canada, as well as concessional loans from the OPEC fund (World Bank, 1990).
The period also drew bilateral funders in the education sector, resulting in the establishment of a USAID Primary Education Programme in the country. Seven years after the commencement of the New Education Reform Programme in 1987, the results of poor performance of school pupils at the age of twelve led to the formation of yet another Education Review Committee to review the education system in 1994. At the time, just 6% of sixth-grade pupils in public schools nationally attained a criteria score of 60% or higher in English. Worse, less than 3% of students received a criteria score of 55% or higher in Mathematics (MOE, 1997).
Given the nation’s challenges and the reality that the government alone could not address them, the establishment of partnerships to support research and higher education capacity in Ghana became vital. It was widely agreed that the country’s universities must be at the centre of any long-term effort to reconstruct the educational system. If Ghana’s universities are to perform this role, a large and ongoing program of regeneration is required, which will include collaboration with other universities, businesses, and governments from across the world. Without such renewal, Ghana would become further marginalized in the global economy, and African countries in general will struggle to meet their inhabitants’ social and economic needs.
As a result, education is a requirement in terms of development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which include a program for free universal primary education for all by 2015, provide evidence of this necessity.
Previously, numerous funding agencies in the education sector had bilateral partnerships with Ghana’s Ministry of Education. Each Agency’s projects were overseen by a project implementation unit. These units had their own facilities and capacities, some of which were underutilized or had poor staff.
The units were consolidated into a single Projects Management Unit (PMU) in 1993, complete with suitable management procedures. A power structure was developed, with a Director-General in charge who reported directly to the Minister of Education. All money from funding agencies are routed through the PMU, which has specialized procurement and disbursement sections.
The second step was to include financing agencies in the policy-making process, working with them to write a strategy paper and create a national plan for basic education. This coordination enabled the Ministry of Education to:
(a) define its own priorities and strategies for national development
(b) utilize agency contributions to the sector programme in an effective way and
(c) put an end to low priority projects that reflected exclusively the directives and priority areas of the funding agencies.
A joint Ministry of Education and Funding Agency Forum was held in Accra in July 1994. The process of developing Ghana’s basic education reform – the Free Compulsory and Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) Programme – began at that point. This was the cornerstone of the Ministry/Agency collaboration’s long-term success story.
The creation of Oversight and Top Management Groups and Units for operational implementation, as well as the decentralization of functions, has facilitated a sense of ownership and commitment on the part of all stakeholders, as well as systematic consultation and consensus-building. In February 1997, the Government and Funding Agency Consultative Panel Semi-Annual Meetings were established, providing a sector platform as well as a role for funding agencies in policy implementation. This is because the government has made it plain that FCUBE is the only program for Basic Education for the last ten years (1996-2005), and all external funding support for Basic Education is now being routed via the Ministry for that program.
Ghana’s successful experience is precedent-setting since it is an effective participatory development model that demonstrates how African governments may take the lead in organizing financial agencies’ support. Aid that is led by countries rather than agencies is more likely to result in a more equal and effective allocation of cash.
As part of the FCUBE Programme, the government is implementing a policy of devolution of authority across Ghana’s 170 districts. Decentralization of education management and control has begun with the formation of District Oversight Education Committees, chaired by District Chief Executives.
School Management Committees have been created at the school level. The School Performance Appraisal Meeting (SPAM) initiative, which puts local improvement plans to the forefront, engages communities even more in school activities and increases their sense of ownership of the schools.
This study focused on important educational development projects funded by International Development Partners in the context of the preceding. These are the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Ghana’s African Development Bank (AfDB). The study looked at the nature of the cooperation and how Ghanaian participants contribute to the development of project ideas.
1.2 Statement Of The Problem
Despite development partners’ efforts, Ghana and other African countries continue to face development problems. One wonders what the true problem is. Do such cooperation help African beneficiaries, particularly Ghana? Is the problem attitudinal, political, or cultural in nature, or just a lack of African-based leadership to sustain projects? Is the problem connected to Ghana’s national education policy? These are critical concerns that need empirical solutions. However, available research shows that there is little data that tries to answer the issues asked above. This divide prompted a study of the issues confronting North-South collaboration in educational development in Ghana.
1.3 Purpose Of The Study
The purpose of the study was to examine the various challenges involved in North-South collaboration in educational development. Specifically, the study examines:
2 The nature of Ghana’s educational development collaborations with the North.
3 The difficulties associated with North-South collaborations in implementing Ghana’s educational agenda
4 Ghana’s perceptions of the benefits of educational collaborations with development partners and
5 Measures that can be implemented to ensure that Ghanaians benefit from international collaborations.
5.1 Research Questions
The following research questions were formulated to guide the conduct of the study:
1) What are the challenges of North-South collaboration?
2) What is the benefits from the North-South collaboration?
3) What can be done to ensure that Ghanaians enhance their benefits in international collaborations?
1.5 Significance Of The Study
This study therefore contributes to existing literature on efforts being made by Ghana and supports received from its Development Partners in achieving this agenda. The significance of this study lies principally in the fact that, an attempt is made to underscore the challenges faced by development partners in contributing either financially or technically to improve upon the Ghanaian educational system. It is hoped that the findings of this study will create other reference avenues for streamlining collaborations with donor agencies and other development partners so as to encourage and motivate them in assisting the nation.
1.6 Scope Of The Study
The study was limited to determining the challenges that development partners experience in their efforts to reduce poverty in Ghana through the provision of quality education. The Ghanaian educational system and the extent to which quality education has been accomplished received special attention. The DFID, USAID, and the AFDB were the only development partners.
1.7 Limitations to the Study
One of the study’s limitations was the difficulty in obtaining access to people (Development Partners) who could reply to data collection instruments on time. To address this dilemma, the researcher made special arrangements with several officers who agreed to meet with the researcher at a time that was convenient for them. This is a limitation because it lowered the number of respondents who participated in the study. The respondents’ responses are likely to have been influenced by the limited number of interviews and the structured nature of the interviews. Unfortunately, some Ghanaian project organizers did not supply the researcher with the necessary information about the ongoing projects.
1.8 Definition of Terms
North and South – In the context of this research, the term – North‖ represents developed countries and international donor agencies whilst – South‖ represents developing countries.
Challenges – refers to the obstacles encountered by the North in their quest of helping to eradicate poverty in Ghana through the provision of good and quality education.
Abdallah, A. (1986). Speech on the state of the education system in Ghana. Address to the Nation. Accra, Ghana.
Dzobo, N. K. (1974). The report of the education review committee: The new structure and content of education for Ghana. Accra, Ghana: Ministry of Education.
Foster, P. (1965). Education and social change in Ghana. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Kadingdi, S. (2004). Critical review: Policy initiatives for change and innovation in basic education programmes in Ghana. The journal of Doctorial Research in Education.
MOE/PREP, (1997). The policy review document of the 1997 education review committee. Accra, Ghana: Ministry of Education.
Scadding, H. (1989). Junior secondary school – an educational initiative in Ghana. Compare, 19, 1, 43-48. USAID/GHANA (1995) USAID / Ghana Evaluation Report of 1995 on Primary Education programme. Accra, Ghana.
World Bank, (1986). Sector Adjustment Policy Document of the World Bank. Group Working Paper. Washington D.C. June, 1986.
World Bank, (1990). OPEC fund Report – Revised Version. March 1990.