Ghana has one of the best-developed educational systems in the whole of Africa. There are three main levels. The elementary pre-primary, primary and middle, secondary technical and teacher training and the University level.
Education for most children begins at the age of five or six, only a small number, mostly in the larger urban centers, begin at the age of three or four in pre-primary or nursery schools. Education at the primary level lasts for six years. Primary school education is free and will be mandatory when teachers and facilities are available to accommodate all the students.
Entry into the secondary level is by a nationwide competitive examination organized by the West African Examination Council (WAEC). Candidates will have to sit the Basic Education Certificate Examination in Mathematics, English Integrated Science, Social Studies, Technical and Vocational subjects before gaining admission into Junior Secondary School for three years. After this level one may decide to enter a technical or vocational institute or alternatively sit for the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) also organized by WAEC. Subjects taken at this level are Mathematics, Integrated Science, English, Social Studies, Technical and Vocational Subjects. Upon passing one may choose to go to the University, Polytechnic or teacher training college.
Ghana has 12,130 primary schools, 5,450 junior secondary schools, 503 senior secondary schools, 21 training colleges, 18 technical institutions, two diploma-awarding institutions and five universities serving a population of 17 million; this means that most Ghanaians have relatively easy access to good education. In contrast, at the time of independence in 1957, Ghana had only one university and a handful of secondary and primary schools. In the past decade, Ghana's spending on education has been between 28 percent and 40 percent of its annual budget.
Primary-and middle-school education is tuition-free and will be mandatory when enough teachers and facilities are available to accommodate all the students. Students begin their 6-year primary education at age six. Under educational reforms implemented in 1987, they pass into a new junior secondary school system for 3 years of academic training combined with technical and vocational training.
Senior Secondary education
After basic school, pupils may enter Senior secondary (or technical/vocational) schools for a three-year course, which prepare them for university education. Students usually study a combination of three (in some cases, four) 'elective' subjects and a number of core subjects. For example, a science student could study Additional Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Physics as his 'elective' subjects. An arts students might study Georgraphy, Economics and Literature as his elective subjects. In addition to the elective subjects, there are 'core' subjects, which are those studied by all students in addition to their 'electives'. The 'core' subjects include Mathematics, English and Science.
At the end of the three year senior secondary course, students are required to sit for the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE). Students who obtain aggregate 18 or better (six is best) can enter the university. Usually, the score is determined by aggregating the student's grades in his elective subjects. The aggregate score is then added to the aggregate score of his best 'core' subjects, with scores in English and Mathematics considered first.
So if an arts students scores 'A' in Geography, 'B' in Literature and 'C' in Economics, he'd obtain an aggregate score of 6 for his electives (i.e. A=1; B=2 and C=3...F(fail)=6). His best electives are then added. If he obtain 'B' in English, 'C' in Mathematics and 'A' in Social Studies, his best 'core' aggregate will be six. Therefore, his overall aggregate score will be 12 and he qualifies for admission into a university. Once again, an overall aggregate score of six is best.
Entrance to universities is by examination following completion of senior secondary school. School enrollment totals almost 2 million: 1.3 million primary; 107,600 secondary; 489,000 middle; 21,280 technical; 11,300 teacher training; and 5,600 university. Education is mainly in English