Children attend school in Ghana Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

Africa’s Schooling Without Learning

Despite progressive reforms in countries such as Ghana, students across Africa still face steep barriers to a truly comprehensive education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that 88% of children and teenagers will enter adulthood without basic literacy, owing to low investment in schools and teacher training.

ACCRA – As the school year began this September, there was welcome news for Ghana’s nearly half-million students entering high school: President Nana Akufo-Addo had fulfilled his campaign promise of free secondary education for children nationwide. He swore not only to do away with admissions fees, but also to provide free textbooks and meals, the cost of which had often remained a barrier for the poorest students.

Ghana had introduced free compulsory education at the primary and junior high school levels in 1995, but implementation had been painfully slow – and students’ educational dreams were often cut off before high school. Even in 2014, only 37% of the nation’s students were enrolled in secondary school, owing to high fees. The president’s move is thus an inspiring example that Ghana’s neighbors should follow.

Unfortunately, despite progressive reforms like these, students across Africa still face other steep barriers to a truly comprehensive education. In Ghana, for example, poor and rural children are unlikely to reap the full benefits of their new access to secondary education.

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