Access to Basic Education in Ghana: Politics, Policies and Progress


This monograph examines the history and politics of educational reform in Ghana, focusing on the issue of access to basic education in the post-colonial period. The monograph employs data from a series of interviews conducted with senior policy-makers, implementers and researchers, as well as drawing on documentary sources, to explore the drivers and inhibitors of change at the political, bureaucratic and grass-roots levels. It describes the patterns of change in relation to enrolment and outlines the key policies adopted through from the British colonial administration to the various independent regimes, authoritarian and democratic. Progress in universalising access has been substantial and basic education indicators in Ghana, both in early post-colonial times and today, stand out positively when compared to most countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The study explores the nature of the domestic political and administrative machinery which has enabled comparative success in enrolment growth in Ghana, attending also to the importance of political will as well as to shifting patterns of international and donor influence.

The study draws out key tensions in education policy making, including tensions between the goals of access, equity, quality and relevance; those between academic and vocational orientations; those between elite and popular interests and those between political and technical imperatives. The processes of reform begun by the Kwapong and Dzobo committees and continued through to the fCUBE policy are examined in detail and the underlying aims and objectives of these processes are shown to share a number of common although sometimes mutually conflicting features. Interview data allow a nuanced interpretation of both impetus and resistance to policy formulation and implementation. The reforms of 1987 are shown to be critical in the development of the universal basic education policies that emerged subsequently and those later policies are considered partly as responses to unrealised objectives from 1987.

Following the restoration of democratic government in Ghana, the establishment of a constitutional commitment to universal basic education in 1992 provided a lasting and binding responsibility for the state, which was followed by a comprehensive policy in fCUBE. Subsequently education policy has played an important role in political manifesto pledges. The monograph concludes by considering the election pledges of the 2008 Ghana Government, their provenance and initial indications of their implementation and finally summarises its findings on progress and on the importance of policy, regime, political will, and the drivers and inhibitors of reform implementation in relation to the pursuit of basic education for all in historical perspective.


CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Research Monograph Number 42, ISBN: 0-901881-49-X, 63 pp.

Access to Basic Education in Ghana: Politics, Policies and Progress

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