Updated: May 13, 2022
Education indicators in Ghana reflect gender gap and disparities between rural and urban areas, as well as between the Southern and Northern parts of Ghana. These inequalities and disparities have only deepened the illiteracy level of rural folks who have little or no access to educational opportunities and resources.
The 2010 Population and Housing Report from the Ghana Statistical Services showed that one in every five persons, which is 19.1% of the population in Central Region from age three (3) and above have had no formal education. Slightly more than one-quarter (26.7%) have attended up to primary school level, and a further 21% up to Junior High School level.
There is also substantial difference between males and females regarding levels of education.
The proportion of females who have never been to school (24.7%) is almost twice that of males (12.9%) who have also not been in school. The disparities further deepen in proportion between males and females who have no formal education in urban communities (11.0% for males and 20.7% females) and rural communities in the Central Region (14% for males, 28.5% for females).
Efforts to eliminate illiteracy has constantly been made by government and education policy makers since the last four(4) decades but there are many difficulties to ensuring equitable access to education. There is lack of adequate resources to make education available and accessible to all including communities in the Central region and most parents in these communities cannot also afford to pay school fees or provide basic materials for effective studies such as school uniforms, books, etc. to help their wards access the little opportunities available.
Besides government’s inability to provide adequate educational resources and parents’ inability to support their children through school, socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, poverty and low income levels are also pressing issues facing rural communities in the Central Region. For instance, the Komenda Edina-Eguafo- Abrem district has an economically active population of only 32.4% (2010 Census report, GSS), in effect almost 67.6% of the population, are economically inactive. 42.0% of the economically active population is into Agriculture, forestry and fishing and it is estimated that 12.2% of children between the ages of 5 to17 years engage in these economic activities.
It is also estimated that majority (59.4%) of the children engaged in these economic activities work between 6am and 6pm each day (GLSS6), that is contrary to the existing Children’s Act which discourages children to work at night; and they do all these economic activities to support themselves and to help meet the financial needs of their families.
Also government over the years has made efforts to provide and improve health care in Ghana. This has been done in ways such as building more health infrastructures, training of more medical personnel and the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). In the year 2016 for instance government through the ministry of health inaugurated ten (10) polyclinics in various communities in the Central Region which are expected to serve the health needs of the people in and around those communities.
The NHIS, which is a social intervention program introduced by government to provide financial access to quality health care for residents in Ghana has also provided a generous package of benefits covering 95% of conditions which includes inpatient and outpatient services for general and specialist care, surgical operations, hospital accommodation, prescription drugs, blood products, dental care, maternity care and emergency treatment.
However, although the NHIS has increased overall access to health care, there are real concerns that it has not been successful in its aim of meeting the health needs of the poorest members of society especially in rural communities. A National Development Planning Commission (NDPC 2009) survey undertaken in 2008, for example, found that fewer than 30% of those in the lowest socio-economic quintile were members of the scheme, compared with over 60% of the wealthiest. The main reason given for not belonging to the scheme was affordability (77%).
It is in the wake of these challenges of lack of access to and affordability of education and learning materials, socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, poverty and low income levels and un-affordability of health care by the poor rural folks in the central region that HOPEFEST was birthed. HOPEFEST seeks to help bridge the gap between rural and urban communities and to help attain major aspects of the Millennium Development Goals in Ghana.