When it comes to education in Ghana, most expats find the national curriculum to be limited, teaching methods outdated and the standard of facilities lower than what they might be used to back home. For these reasons, expats tend to bypass public schooling options in Ghana and rather send their children to an international school.
School is compulsory and free for children aged between four and 15. School is divided into four phases:
- Preschool: ages three to six
- Primary school: ages six to 12
- Junior secondary school: ages 12 to 15
- Senior secondary school: ages 15 to 18
Public schools in Ghana
As the language of instruction in Ghana's public schools is English, expat children are unlikely to face a language barrier.
Often, the teaching focus in Ghanaian public schools is on learning by memorisation and repetition. Although this can be effective for younger children, most expats will find the lack of focus on individual thinking and problem-solving somewhat limiting. Resources in public schooling are limited and may not be meet the standards that new arrivals might expect.
Private schools in Ghana
Private schools in Ghana receive both governmental and private funds. There are public-private partnerships with international organisations, private institutions and individuals, and churches and NGOs contributing to funding, infrastructure maintenance, furniture and technical assistance. Communities and parents participate, paying tuition fees, and organising food and transport for their children.
These schools tend to offer the same national curriculum but at a slightly higher standard provided the additional private funding and backing.
International schools in Ghana
Due to the large expat community in Accra, the city has a range of private bilingual international schools with international accreditation. Most of these schools teach the American, British or International Baccalaureate curricula, and there are also Canadian, French and German schools.
Some schools are rooted in religion with a Christian-based academic environment, and there are also opportunities for Montessori education.
Most international schools charge hefty fees and expats should take care to negotiate tuition allowances in their employment contract or to negotiate their salary accordingly.
Though fees are high, international schools ease the transition for expat children allowing them to make friends with students from various cultures and nationalities but in similar situations to them, allowing a diverse environment to grow up in. Similarly, this provides opportunities for parents of comparable circumstances to meet up and expand their network.
International schools offer many extra-curricular activities, learning of foreign languages, and better quality facilities and teachers. They can provide great opportunities for further study and career development.
For families in larger cities such as Accra and Kumasi, finding an international school is unlikely to be a problem. Those based further from these cities may need to settle for a boarding school option, or homeschooling.
Homeschooling in Ghana
Homeschooling is legal in Ghana and although the numbers of families who opt for this are low, they are growing. Expat parents may find homeschooling an ideal solution to low-quality public schools and extremely pricey international schools.
Numerous associations and parent groups can be found in Ghana. Parents should ideally connect with these networks to make use of resources and first-hand advice.
Tutors in Ghana
For parents who require extra tuition for their children, there is no shortage of tutors in Ghana. There are many private tutoring companies, especially in and around large cities. Schools will often be able to suggest good tutors in the area, but tutor companies can be found with a quick look on a search engine, through social media or by word of mouth.
Tutoring can be centre- or home-based, and can help students who struggle with particular subjects, build self-confidence or just assist in maintaining focus, and it can be a great benefit close to exam time. Tutors can also help expat children to pick up a new language faster, or to maintain their mother tongue.
Special-needs education in Ghana
Ghana's Inclusive Education Policy envisions a path for all children to receive a fully supportive and inclusive educational experience. The government, private sector and NGOs are working towards inclusive education and providing assistive devices and training opportunities for teachers.
Despite the push for mainstream education, many children with special needs are placed in segregated special schools, but parents may prefer more inclusive options. Most often, these can be found in private schooling. International schools may provide varying levels of support for children with disabilities and expats should get in contact for specific information.