Germany in Ghana: financing free primary education for all
Almost half of Ghana’s population lives on less than US$1 a day. For every 10 children in Ghana, one will die before their fifth birthday. Four out of ten men and women in Ghana cannot read or write and in recent years only 62% of children of primary school age were in school. However the Government of Ghana along with help from Germany and other donors is taking action and having an impact.
In 2003 the Government of Ghana announced that it would abolish all primary school fees and provide a small grant to every school for each pupil to help cover the costs and encourage more children to go to school.
As recommended by the Global Campaign for Education the Ghanaian government has recently dedicated over one fifth of its national budget to education. However, domestic resources alone are not enough and the plan has been supported by rich countries such as Germany, which provided €19.6 million in aid directly to the government of Ghana between 2004 and 2006.
Aid given in this way and monitored to ensure accountability and transparency can be used to pay teacher’s salaries, build schools and finance the grants given to schools for each pupil enrolled.
What has the impact been?
Within the first year the number of primary school aged children in education increased from 62% to 69%, and over two academic years, 1.2 million more children were able to go to school in Ghana. Enrolment of girls increased more than that of boys after stagnating for the two previous years, which is vital as evidence shows that girls who are educated are less likely to contract HIV and earn more money in employment.
Enrolment increased in other countries that have removed school fees and made education free for all: in Uganda, primary school enrolment grew by 4 million between1997 and 2000; in Kenya in 2003, it jumped by 1.3 million; and in Tanzania, enrolment more than doubled to 3 million.
However despite this progress there are still an estimated 150,000 primary aged children that do not attend school in Ghana, this is roughly equivalent to the population of Heidelberg.
There is also a shortage of properly trained teachers, in 2004 only 56% of Ghana’s existing teachers were fully trained. In many cases these teachers are expected to handle as many as 100 or more pupils at a time.
Ghana also has a shortage of classrooms, it is estimated that to meet education for all targets over one thousand new classrooms must be built a year for the next four years.
- Germany and other rich countries must increase the amount of aid they give directly to the Ghanaian Government so that Ghana can reach the Millennium Development Goal targets in education by recruiting more teachers and building more classrooms. In 2006 Germany gave around one euro out of every five this way to Ghana.
- Aid is also needed to finance essential improvements in educational quality and ensure completion rates are high. Primary education for all is within reach in Ghana and with rich countries' continued help it can be met in the near future.