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Learning in Ghana: Exploring The Challenges Faced by Pupils and Teachers at Government and Private Schools in Central Region

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December 2019
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IDP Foundation commissioned Dr Joanna Härmä, who worked with Laura Moscoviz, to develop this report investigating the low overall results in English and Mathematics abilities in grades 4 and 6 in Ghana’s Central Region, and what might explain the relatively higher test scores in low-fee private schools. Three research questions were investigated:

1. How does the literacy and numeracy performance of Primary 4 pupils compare between government and private schools, with special focus on low-fee private schools?
2. How do pupil, household, teacher and school characteristics (e.g. pupil background, teaching practice, school management, and school fees) vary within and among school types?
3. To what extent are household, pupil, teacher, and school- level factors correlated with pupil achievement?
The research was conducted in Ghana’s Central Region, which provided a sufficient number of private schools (17 out of the 55 total schools). The study examined the variation in NEA test scores between government and low-fee private schools, and between rural and urban areas.

While results for private schools were marginally better than public schools, the general performance across both has been low, and therefore requires targeted interventions at all levels in both settings. In addition, when looking at low-fee private schools where the test scores were slightly better, a pupil from the poorest quintile could expect to achieve an English score that is 5.24% lower than a peer from the richest quintile, when other factors are equal. This reinforces the need for the government to implement policies that do not deepen existing inequalities, but rather support all children within all educational settings to achieve at least the minimum nationally-set learning outcomes.

Insights from it can be found in our policy brief on Rethinking Basic Education in Ghana: Key Issues for Stakeholder Action, read here.

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