Frequently Asked Questions about the Health & Education Systems in Ghana

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Education

1. How many children will a school support?

  • Kindergartens—Typically 50-70 students for each of two classrooms—up to 100-150 students.
  • Primary Schools—Typically 60-70 students per classroom (Grades 1-6)—up to 400 students.
    (Note: Recent national legislation requires all children up to age 16 to attend school. This law is creating more pressure on the school system to take as many students as are available to attend, thus increasing even more the number of students in the already crowded schools; and with no additional teachers.)
  • Junior Secondary Schools (JSS)—Class sizes are often somewhat smaller, since traditionally a sixth grade education has been standard. However, growing numbers of students are now continuing into JSS, thus increasing the classroom size. JSS schools are typically still managed like primary schools, with only one classroom teacher teaching all subjects, usually by lecture and chalkboard notes. It is not uncommon to see 50 JSS students in one classroom (Grades 7, 8 and 9).

2. How do the teachers get paid?
All public school teachers are paid by the government, even though many of these schools are named after various churches (Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, Anglican, Catholic, etc.). Since independence in 1957, the Ghanaian government has assumed responsibility for most originally-sponsored “church” schools, particularly in rural communities. Private schools continue to be funded by student tuitions and the sponsoring organizations. World Joy constructs and supports only public schools.

The assignment of teachers by the Education Department is done by “postings” for several year contracts. This is particularly true for rural areas, where there are insufficient qualified teachers and it is difficult to get volunteers to relocate to remote areas.

3. What evidence is there to indicate the schools where World Joy works have improved?
Recent statistics from the Atiwa District indicates that students completing junior secondary school (JSS) have increased their standardized qualifying examination scores significantly over the past two years, especially since initiating the Inside Out Learning program, focused on classroom management and teaching methods. Increases as much as 25% have measured from previous year’s scores. Unfortunately, the statistics are not of the quality we would like, but the trends in qualifying scores in the basic subject matter areas are on an upward trend. World Joy will continue to work with the District in strengthening the statistical methods.

4. How many teachers does a typical school have?
In rural public schools, it is the practice to have one trained teacher per class. Where large numbers of students exist, some schools will recruit “volunteers” to help a teacher with a large class load. Overcrowding of classrooms and the teacher/student ratios are all too common.

5. How do schools get their supplies?

The government is responsible for providing school supplies to the public schools. Typically, chalk, paper, and few other minimal supplies are provided, albeit sporadically. Most often teachers are found without supplies, and are forced to resort to their own innovations for teaching. Textbooks are few, and students typically learn by rote from teacher lectures and chalkboard notes. World Joy works to supply basic student and teacher supplies as part of the construction of a school.

6. What dates and times is school typically in session?

The class schedule is similar to that of the U.S., though recesses are interspersed throughout the school year. New school years begin in late August/early September and go through the first half of December. Classes resume about the second week of January and go through April/May. There is a 10-week closure during June, July and August, though some districts offer “recess sessions” for students needing remedial support.

Health

Note: Ghana Health Service refers to their rural health facilities as "posts", however, they operate and service more like a health clinic in the U.S.

1. How are rural health clinics (posts) staffed and maintained?

Health clinics in rural areas are designed by the Ghana Health Service to provide basic primary care services to local populations. Typically one or two nurses, and sometimes a midwife, are “posted” to a government run health post. Salaries are provided by the government. In addition to the population where the health facility is located, outreach clinics are provided by the health post staff to 3-5 additional villages located further out in the bush. The District Health office is responsible for providing basic medications and supplies to the rural health facilities. Inventories, however, are often minimal. Patients are expected to pay a minimal fee for medications received, though treatment is typically free.

2. What services are usually provided at the health clinics?
Primary care services focus on maternal and infant care (maternity and well baby clinics, and deliveries), immunizations, health education and referral to larger health centres/hospitals (for more serious illness). Outreach clinics are provided in adjacent villages 2-3 times a month, depending on the numbers of villages served and the workload. Ideally, posted nursing staff are housed at the health post site, so as to be available to provide services day and night.

3. How do the nurses get paid?

All public health service workers are paid by the government. Where accommodations are provided, nurses are housed in the facilities as part of their payment. The health clinics (posts) being constructed by World Joy provide a housing unit for local staff, making such mandatory “postings” more attractive to workers.

4. What education is required for nurses who man the health Clinics (posts)?

The minimum education required for a nurse in Ghana is two years beyond high school. An additional year’s training is required for a midwife beyond basic nursing. Baccalaureate nurses are typically used in larger health facilities and in supervisory roles. Quite often, the nursing staff “posted” (assigned) to rural areas are young women just completing nursing school. They are assigned from larger population centers on a 2-3 year posting.

5. How large of a population will a rural Health Clinic serve?
While populations vary from area to area, health clinics (posts) are directly designed to serve a population of a few thousand local residents, plus periodic outreach clinics to 3-5 additional villages of several hundred each. Because there is a scarcity of trained health personnel, workers often have much more work than they can manage.

6. How have the World Joy sponsored Health Clinics helped the people?
Health clinics (posts) are typically built in rural villages which currently have no health care available. Bringing trained nurses to the village and surrounding areas, increases access to basic services and reduces the cost and time involved in getting ill persons to needed services. The weekly clinics for maternity and newborns, immunizations, and education allows for better coverage, particularly for maternal and infant care services. The addition of delivery services decreases the risk of maternal and newborn deaths where traditional birth attendants have been the only source for maternity services. Better immunization coverage reduces common illnesses and prevents epidemics of childhood disease. Health education, especially for mothers, strengthens treatments for childhood fever, diarrhea, malaria, respiratory infections and other common illnesses. It is anticipated that locally reported statistics to the Ghana Health Service will soon provide statistical validation of the newly provided services in rural areas.