Academic journal article Education Research International

Literacy in Limbo? Performance of Two Reading Promotion Schemes in Public Basic Schools in Ghana

Academic journal article Education Research International

Literacy in Limbo? Performance of Two Reading Promotion Schemes in Public Basic Schools in Ghana

Article excerpt

Recommended by Bernhard Schmidt-Hertha

Department of Publishing Studies, College of Art and Social Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana

Received 4 March 2012; Revised 5 July 2012; Accepted 9 July 2012

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

1. Background and Context

In September 1987 the government of Ghana started a new education programme 1 to reduce preuniversity education from 17 to 12 years, comprising 6 years of primary education, three years of junior secondary school to replace the then four year middle school structure, and a final three years of senior secondary schooling in place of the five years ordinary level and two years advanced level General Certificate of Education programmes.

The events leading to the 1987 major education reform are best understood in the context of the economic development of Ghana since independence, particularly the country's economic depression in the 1970s and 1980s. At independence in 1957, Ghana had a thriving economy and, as of 1960, a per capita national income of £ 70, higher than many developing countries such as (Egypt £ 56, Nigeria £ 29, and India £ 25) [2-4]. Ghana had "a promising start as one of the richest, most successful and politically mature regions of black Africa, having substantial sterling reserves and well-formulated development plans" [3, page 2]. The relatively buoyant economy was backed by abundant human and natural resources, and these assisted the government of the newly independent country to implement its ambitious plan of industrialisation [4]. But this was short lived.

Barely six years after independence, the economy, which was growing at the rate of six percent and making budgetary surpluses in the early years of independence, started recording budget deficits in the realm of 10 per cent between 1963 and 1965 [3, 4]. The decline was attributed to Nkrumah's overspending to support his political agenda of transforming Ghana into "a paradise" in ten years [4].

The economic decline continued at a breakneck speed especially between 1972 and 1983 [1, 2, 5]. In fact from 1972 to 1983 has been described as "a long period of acceleration towards the abyss; these eleven years are Ghana's nightmare" [3, page 16].

As a result of these challenges, financing of social services, the key to which is education, fell. Between 1975 and 1983 the gross national product (GNP) per capita fell by 23 percent and government spending on education reduced from 6.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 1976 to 1.4 percent in 1983 [1, 5].

Akyeampong and Stephens [6, page 3-4] summarise the effects of the ailing economy on education

Teachers were not paid promptly, there was little supervision or inspection, schools were in disrepair, and there were few textbooks or instructional materials. The deteriorating economic climate and working conditions prompted an exodus of trained teachers to find better paid work in other countries. Untrained teachers were employed to avoid disintegration of the education system ... Consequently, the quality of teaching deteriorated and gross enrolment rates at the primary level decreased.

Further, following a long period of challenges and virtual neglect [1, page 88] the educational system was seen as

Running inefficiently and unable to justify the huge costs incurred in it by the state. Pretertiary education was seen to take an unnecessarily long time, which added significantly to the costs. School children were found to be acquiring knowledge which was not always the most relevant for developing future careers. Access to education facilities was highly skewed in favour of urban groups and males. …

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