Author: Sutherland-Addy, E.
Girls' education is receiving high profile policy attention in Ghana today. At the political level, the New Patriotic Party Government appointed a Minister of State for Basic, Girl Child and Secondary Education to the Ministry of Education in 2001. The Girls' Education Unit established in the Ghana Education Service in 1997 under the auspices of the Free Compulsory and Universal Basic Education Programme (FCUBE) has intensified its activities. The Unit has produced a draft policy document entitled "A National Vision for Girls' Education in Ghana and A Framework for Action: Charting the Way Forward." It also has a network of officers at regional and district level to carry out the strategies of the unit.
Purpose / Objective
The objective of the study is to examine the aggregate impact of goal setting and practical activities in the area of girls' education in order to establish the general direction for the Girls' Education Programme in Ghana.
The impact study is based on three key pillars:
- A review of research papers, project documents and evaluation reports
- A statistical analysis of trends in the situation of girls' education
- A field survey featuring selected site visits to initiatives in girls' education, interviews and focus group discussions with actors and beneficiaries. The field survey was also conducted to verify and complement the information from the review of documentation. An assessment of attitudinal and behavioral change in response to interventions, the sustainability of interventions and the viability of the framework of national policies on girls' education were also envisaged.
Key Findings and Conclusions
Research and Documentation:
It was found that, outside the operational records of Development Partners, documentation on girls' education has not been systematically consolidated. The effort by FAWE to create a well-stocked documentation center on girls' education was noted, as it is the most comprehensive outside the holdings of Development Partners. Documentation and research should be part of operational activities as well as provide the basis for training and advocacy programs and material development. The Girls' Education Unit should have a regular review and impact study to guide the implementation of national policy on girls' education and also to enhance its co-ordination of activities.
Trends in the Situation of Girls' Education:
The analysis indicates that, overall, the rate of improvement in the situation of girls' education is very slow. As regards attaining the national (FCUBE) targets set for the improvement in girls' education in 1997, it is clear that 2005 may prove illusory. The enrolment rate of girls at primary level has decreased by 0.5% over the 4-year period since 1998. The dropout rate at this level is stagnant while at the JSS level, it is 1.1%. Transition from JSS 3 to SSS is also stagnant (33% to 32.8%). At the secondary and tertiary level, it seems that policies and programs specifically addressing questions of gender equity have stimulated a response in the target population. There is evidence of improved performance. There is also improved performance in a few schools and communities where interventions have been effected at basic level. However, performance and persistence will have to be monitored in a more systematic manner to provide reliable data for assessing impact. Despite these indicative improvements, low enrolment and transitions at basic level give a general view of stagnation. The Girls' Education Programme must review existing strategies in order to spearhead an innovative approach that will stimulate an impetus in girls' education, otherwise national objectives for gender equity will not be met.
Involvement of Development Partners and NGOs in Girls' Education:
Most interventions in the area of girls' education are being undertaken by a number of NGOs, CBOs and Development Partners. The study presents a collation of information on the activities of the above actors. The summaries provide the name of the organization, project name, funding sources, regions and districts of operation, indicating the partners, their goals and objectives, duration and program, activities related to Girl-Child Education, target groups and their achievements so far. Development Partners' support for girls' education occurs at the national, district, community and school levels.
The interventions cover research, advocacy using media programs as well as capacity building and training for PTA and SMC members and other community-based personnel. They also include scholarships, teacher incentives, school infrastructure, logistics, libraries, school supplies, vocational skill training and micro-credit programs.
Assessment of Selected Interventions:
Interventions to be assessed were selected to cover the range of geographic areas, communities, schools, target populations and generic areas of intervention. The Field Survey confirmed the range of activities that cover the generic areas of research, advocacy, capacity building and training, awards and incentives packages, infrastructure/provision of teaching and learning materials, learning support systems, policy development and economic and social empowerment. Some of the most active areas are as follows:
Advocacy and Community Sensitization
The Fieldwork also confirmed that advocacy in various forms constituted the strongest area of activity. Advocacy was engaged in at different stages and there continues to be an enormous requirement for it to penetrate the social fabric in response to the vast need for attitudinal change. However, there is the need for proper co-ordination on this front to prevent the overstatement of messages and overlapping by officials from various agencies, which could lead to a jaded attitude among target groups.
Scholarship schemes of various types were observed to be a highly pervasive intervention. The role of the Community, District Assemblies, Traditional Authority and individuals is significant
Formation of Girls' Clubs
A number of organizations have taken to the formation of Girls' Clubs throughout the country. Some of them have had a transformative effect on the members, making them confident and studious. A good deal of co-ordination among actors is required to prevent dragging of the same target group in different directions. The possibility of working with existing clubs should be explored.
Micro Credit Schemes
A very popular intervention that needs a serious review to meet the challenges on the ground.
It may be noted that NGOs that have involved themselves in micro credit schemes by and large were not originally set up to run such schemes and have not had the capacity to either prepare feasible designs or dedicate well-trained officers to the scheme. They should collaborate with agencies with proven expertise in this area to execute such projects so that they can concentrate on their core activities. There is also the need for collaboration at sectoral level so that educational authorities and actors can link groups and communities into major micro financing scheme.
PLA and PRA methodologies of community mobilization have helped personnel involved in girls' education to isolate problems and assisted communities to see themselves as being responsible for education. There is, however, still a vast amount to be done to translate cognition of the problems into attitudinal and behavioral change. Other positive outcomes identified such as the coalescing of parents of beneficiaries and girls into identifiable groups, the participation and support of men, the involvement of communities and the role of assembly persons must be fully supported.
The indicators used to assess the impact of the programs in the field show that the key to deepening impact include the economic empowerment of parents, particularly mothers, sustained sensitization and education of parents and communities, support to girls who qualify to make the transition to post-basic education and support to officers of agencies working to achieve improvement of girls' education in the field.
Generally, interventions are on very small scale and too dispersed to act as a critical force. It may be noted that indicators need to be streamlined and made uniform to assist in assessment. Although there is a large number of actors in some districts, this does not necessarily imply that the situation of girls' education is significantly improved.
Financing the Girls' Education Programme:
Assistance for the government's Girls' Education Programme comes in through multiple channels. There is, however, no budget line for the girls' education programs in the GES budget. There also exists neither the capacity nor a system for analyzing the budget and expenditure in the area of girls' education in order to make more sensitive to the girls' education policy. It is recommended that some sensitization takes place to get officers operating the financial system of the MOE and GES to appreciate the need to recognize girls' education as a major element of government policy that needs specific funding.
There is not yet in existence a unitary co-ordinated package of activities that might be labeled the "Girls' Education Programme" in the country even though the national goals and strategies pertaining to the education of the girl child have been set out. The Vision Statement on Girls' Education states: All Ghana's girl children -- and their brothers attend safe, welcoming schools, are well taught by teachers who understand their needs, achieve according to their potential, graduate and become productive and contributing members of our society.
Activities are also being undertaken by a decentralized network of personnel. There is an activity of girls' education in every district in the country, thanks to the GES network of Regional and District Girls' Education officers (R/DGEO) and coordinators for Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (STME) as well as for Women in Technical Education (WITED).
A Review of the Girls' Education Unit, its structure, strategies, terms of reference for its field personnel and its achievements brought to the fore the challenges faced by the Unit.
The Unit has so far initiated actions to undertake research, organize fora for actors, and prepare a vision and framework for a national education program. Challenges faced by the unit include logistical problems, difficulties in arousing community co-operation and inconsistent output due to the uneven levels of qualification of Regional and District Girls' Education Officers (R/DGEOs). Further difficulties include the fragmentation of authority among girls' education units, namely the GEU, STME and WITED secretariats. This must be streamlined for greater efficiencies.
Budding skills in policy analysis, planning and monitoring, as well as project evaluation need to be developed. The GES restructuring program places the GEU as a directorate under the office of the Director-General. This should be implemented to ensure that GEU addresses its wide-ranging mandate of co-coordinating both governmental and non-governmental activities across the nation in the area of girls' education.
It is clear that a national vision for girls' education has been fashioned and that there are some specific national targets for girls' education. There is also a large number of activities being undertaken by a variety of actors. It is, however, of vital importance that a national plan providing a framework for a comprehensive program in girls' education be developed. This framework should make room for the innovative management of efforts by diverse actors working in partnership towards the fulfillment of a national vision.
Furthermore, the synergy between the GES, other government agencies, the community, the target groups and development agencies already emerging should be sustained to ensure that there are structures at the local level to create ownership and maximize impact.
Support to girls' education has reached a stage where many current externally-funded programs are coming to an end and the prospects for continued or increased direct support are tentative. A number of projects, interventions and strategies funded by Development Partners over the last few years appear to be deserving, in full or in part, of consideration for continued support. This is imperative, looking at the need to disseminate results among actors in the field of education and decision makers in order to feed into strategic development planning, financing and implementation.
The findings of this study show a situation full of potential to resolve clearly identified problems. However, to make substantial progress towards the national goals for girls' education, bold action should be taken to go to scale with interventions that have shown proof of high impact on the ground.
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Education - Girls