Accra – Ghana is planning to make senior high school free for all teenagers, whatever their background, in a move experts say could transform the lives of millions of youngsters, particularly girls.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has promised to introduce the measure in September to fulfil a campaign pledge made during last December’s election that brought him to power.
Currently, access to senior high school in Ghana depends on passing an entrance exam, available places and, crucially, being able to afford the fees.
Akufo-Addo said last month that free schooling meant “more and more of our girls get access to affordable and quality education which in turn speeds up the development of our country.
“Achieving excellence in girls’ education is a must if we are to shed off the evils of poverty, ignorance, and disease and put our country on the path of progress and prosperity,” he added.
Girls in Ghana currently lag behind boys in school attendance by just over two years.
UN statistics from 2015 indicated girls spent an average of 5.8 years in school compared to 7.9 for boys.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, the figures were 4.5 and 6.3; globally the average was 7.7 and 8.8.
The need for girls to finish school has been the subject of many global campaigns, which have highlighted their impact on improving problem areas such as child mortality and wages.