Ghanaian girls still have a lower chance of enrolling in school in spite of progress made at improving access to education, according to a global report on Ghana released Wednesday.
The 10th edition of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFAGMR) said that 53 per cent of poor girls living in the Northern Region had never been to school.
It said more needs to be done to overcome inequalities rooted in poverty and gender barriers, adding that progress in the education system has not benefitted many of the most the marginalized young people.
Mr Kwame Akyeampong, a policy analyst with United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), read the report at a ceremony organized in Accra, where he stressed that Ghana needed to invest more in the educational sector to meet the Millennium Development Goals on education.
“Among those who had completed nine years of school in 2008, 21 per cent were illiterate, about a quarter were only partially literate”, he said.
The EFAGMR aimed to track progress in order to identify which among the policy reforms and practices of the six-pronged education goals agreed upon in Senegal are the most effective.
In April 2000, more than 1,100 participants from 164 countries met in Dakar, Senegal for the World Education Forum and adopted the sets of standards called “Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments”.
The goals are to expand early childhood care and education, achieve universal primary education, promote learning and life skills competence among young people and adults, reduce adult illiteracy by 50 per cent, and to achieve gender parity and equality, all by 2015.
Mr Akyeampong said that almost a third of young people had less than a lower secondary education and lacked the foundational skills needed to earn an adequate salary.
“In rural areas, 48 per cent of young women aged 15-24 have less than a lower secondary education, compared to 39 per cent of young men,” Mr Akyeampong said. “Both the urban and rural poor suffer from poor foundation skills,” he explained, adding that only nine per cent of wealthy urbanites had not received a full lower secondary education compared with around half of the rural and urban poor.
He said that Ghana was showing strong commitment towards funding education with 5.6 per cent of Ghana’s national budget spent on education in 2010, up from 4.2 per cent in 1999.
Mr Acheampong said, “there are also positive signs of providing support to the disadvantaged young people through Ghana’s national plans”, adding that the Shared Growth and Development Agenda 2010-2013 included objectives to expand informal sector worker training.
He said the primary education budget was being “squeezed”, adding that “Ghana has increased the share of the education budget earmarked for tertiary education which now makes up 23 per cent of public expenditure on education, the shares for both primary and secondary education, on the other hand, have decreased since 1999.”
With the deadline for these goals just three years away, the global report shows that improvements in early childhood care and education have been too slow in many countries.
It also indicates that progress towards universal primary education was stalling with many young people lacking fundamental skills.
According to the EFAGMR, adult illiteracy remain an elusive goal and gender disparities continue to take a variety of forms.
It also indicates that the global inequalities in learning outcomes remained stark with as many as 250 million children worldwide unable to read or write by the time they reach grade four.