In 1987, the Government of Ghana embarked on a set of educational reforms which culminated in the reduction of pre-tertiary education from 17 to 12 years and the introduction of measures to improve access, equity and quality at all levels of the educational system. The reforms focused primarily on basic education, which had undergone a decade of decline in quality, but higher levels of education were also given some attention. The reforms were launched at a time of a severe economic downturn - the economy had posted three successive years of negative growth - and a diminished capacity of government to finance development. In response, donors became increasingly involved in the provision of finance and technical assistance. As new modalities of aid began to be established, technical and financial assistance was provided to the government for both the preparation and implementation of the reforms. Over the course of the reforms, total donor assistance is estimated at between US$1.5 billion and US$2.0 billion. As the economy began to recover substantially from its malaise of the 1980s, the government's education sector expenditure, as a share of GDP, increased from 1.4 per cent in 1987 to 5.7 per cent in 2006, albeit remaining lower than the 6.4 per cent recorded in 1976.
This study documents a mixed record of implementation and outcomes of the reforms, with some indicators showing highly uneven improvements over two decades. As regards primary enrolments, for example, the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) increased from 76 in 1987 to 79 in 1991, but fell back again to 73 by 1997. By 2001, the ratio had recovered to 80 but then slid to 78 by the 2003/2004 academic year. Participation in basic education, which comprises both primary and junior secondary schooling, remained \"free and compulsory\" over the period.
The introduction of capitation grants for schools in September 2005 reduced direct costs to households by replacing the various levies that schools imposed on parents for extra-curricular activities. This led to a 17 per cent increase in primary enrolments nationwide (with GER rising to 86) in 2005/6. This increase in school enrolments, while desirable in terms of moving the country towards meeting its objective of providing universal basic education for all Ghanaian children of school-going age, was followed, predictably, by a decline in education quality as the provision of additional teachers, facilities, and logistics lagged behind the capitation grant.
A fresh set of educational reforms, scheduled to commence in September 2007, is intended to address these problems. Issues of funding adequacy, coordination and sustainability of donor financing for these reforms, however, remain largely unresolved - especially as donor disbursements in recent years have fallen short of commitments.
Thompson, N.M.; Casely-Hayford, L. RECOUP Working Paper 16. The Financing and Outcomes of Education in Ghana. (2008) 88 pp.