General challenges facing boys and girls
It is generally recognized that a myriad of socio economic factors militate against educational progress of the rural school going child. In Junior High School in particular, due to inadequacies in the rural educational facilities, students are ill equipped to obtain the necessary grades at the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) examination to qualify them to enter the long-established Senior High schools. Further challenges await those who manage to obtain good grades. In some cases this will be the first time the rural child may be leaving home for a boarding school or a day school. Admission and entry   fees must be paid and kits purchased. Normally fees are determined by Ghana Education Service (GES) and charged nationally by mainstream schools.

Ghana Women’s Voices (GWV), through its field office located at Adamsu in the district and with support from four of its collaborators, has since 2007 initiated research into the educational plight of children in the Jaman South district located in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. The main objective of the research was to identify challenges and propose solutions to improve the secondary education chances of the child.

Research supervisors and assistants have been provided by HEDGE Ghana; OBAP Services has provided accommodation and management back up; transportation and communications have been handled by Pavetech Ghana while cash contributions from Equity Pharmacy have gone towards field expenses.

 

Research findings
Findings of the research confirmed that some of the general inadequacies in the educational system in rural areas in Ghana exist in a much more magnified form in the district.

Inadequate Teaching and learning materials
We start with the case of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which is included as an obligatory subject in the JHS curriculum. Teachers who have no access to computers instruct students who learn without seeing computers. Although government has started making computers available to some educational institutions in the country, these truly deprived schools in Jaman South District have not benefited yet. As it were, ICT is being taught in a vacuum. Physical sciences are also taught without the necessary laboratory equipment.

Furniture for pupils and teachers are not available. In some areas classrooms do not have doors and windows while roofs are leaking and walls are falling apart. Suitably qualified teachers assigned to a number of schools may not report for duty in a particular term to complete the curriculum for examinations Parents may not be able to meet costs covering filling of examination forms, paying of examination fees and accessing examination. Expenditure to procure basic materials such as books, school uniforms bags, shoes, tables and chairs may be too high for parents.

Obstacles in Entering Senior High School
Funds must be provided for admission and entry   fees as well as cost of kits to be acquired. Funds from family sources, including those from single parents may not be forthcoming. In a polygamous society a father may be responsible for over ten young children all competing for the same inadequate resources for education. Under these circumstances cultural practices may suggest that secondary education for the girl child may be relegated to a low priority.  Girls who are unable to afford to enter secondary school at this stage have not been adequately prepared for the job market. The available options open to them are to settle into early marriage or drift into urban areas to look for domestic jobs.


Particular challenges faced by girls
Factors which conspire to work against the adolescent girl in the project area Include traditional beliefs, the natural physical make up of girls and the economic environment. The general income levels in these traditional rural communities make investment in a girl’s education to be considered as a low priority. She is seen as the legitimate performer of house chores, including care of younger siblings and aged grand-parents. The girl is expected to settle into marriage and carry on with the widely accepted family tradition of producing numerous children. Since most parents operate on subsistence farming level they can only stretch a family’s education budget to the detriment of other school going children. The case of girls is exacerbated by the single parent phenomenon prevailing in the area. Either fathers have passed away, moved from the locality or have divorced the mothers and remarried. Other factors which go against the girl include early pregnancy

Proposed interventions to assist girls
Ghana Women’s Voices has started to partner with communities, local as well as international funding organizations to deliver quality education to girls in deprived schools in Jaman South District of Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. The program will be run for eight years after which period an evaluation will be conducted. Lessons learnt may be used to replicate the program in other districts in Ghana or other parts of the world..

Assisting girls through community schools
Based on the observations and conclusions from the research, a presentation was made to the Kwatwoma Traditional Council at a meeting held in Seketia, the traditional capital in 2009. A working group was formed to propose solutions to the challenges which had been identified. The group concluded that there is the need to set up a non-profit making community school at Adamsu.


Aims and objectives of the school
The overall aim of the school is to offer secondary level education to all deprived rural secondary school going children. The idea is to offer the children quality education in the community instead of transporting them to a school in an urban area. This model of helping the child ‘on location’ is considered cost effective as more children will be offered opportunity is to get senior secondary school education.


An important subsector of the main aim is to focus on assistance to girls. This policy has been informed by the fact that girls are by and large more disadvantaged than boys. While boys may be able to partially support themselves through income earned by undertaking menial jobs on the farm and construction sites girls are confined to house chores.


Again, the multiplier effect of supporting girls is deemed far greater than that of boys.  A girl who is literate is more likely to serve as a fulcrum for achieving almost all the other MDGs. For example literate girls may be better agents than illiterate ones in ending poverty and hunger. Furthermore they are better at achieving universal education, creating gender equality, promoting child and maternity health, wealth creation and conflict reduction. Similarly literate women help more effectively in combating HIV/AIDS, promotion of environmental sustainability and enhancing global partnership. The well being of girls has collateral benefits on boys as well as the larger community.


Summary of Interventions to improve the lot of girls
The main planned interventions over the project period will include the following:

  • Institute the 3-T Girls Program to Trace, track and train (3-T) promising first year Senior High School girls
  • Conduct mentoring Sessions for program participants
  • Procure books, uniforms, shoes, bags and tables and chairs for the girls
  • Arrange transportation to science and IT centres
  • Arrange extra tuition
  • Empower teachers to deliver quality education to participating students
  • Assist in filling forms and payment of examination fees
  • Facilitate entry to tertiary institutions
  • Assist girls to complete tertiary education
  • Track progress of girls for a period of one year after graduation.