Ghana’s Northern Region has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country – according to UNESCO, as low as 5% of the population is literate. Around 40% of all school-age children in the Northern Region are not enrolled in school, and of those who do enroll, only 25-30% will actually complete Grade 6.
Publicly-funded schools will accommodate children to around Grade 9. At around the Grade 4 level, however, parents are expected to spend $2 to purchase notebooks. Many children, and especially girls, drop out at this point, as the expense is too great for their families.
After Grade 9, students and their families must pay all of the educational costs. On top of this, secondary schools are usually located in major centres, requiring rural students to move from home and pay for boarding fees. The accumulated costs are simply unthinkable for families living on less than $1/day.
Yet education is critical for long-term development. Education opens up opportunities for men and women alike, enabling them to pursue a greater range of employment opportunities and business ventures. It equips future leaders to serve and effectively advocate on behalf of their communities.
Building Local Schools
When they are able to meet in a safe building, instead of beneath a tree or in an unsound structure, students and teachers alike are better able to focus on the lessons. GRID and NEA therefore work with communities and local governments to build schools and dormitories in areas of high need.
Even with school facilities nearby, families still may not be able to afford the fees for secondary school or post-secondary education. GRID and NEA have implemented a scholarship program that funds an equal number of male and female students annually to complete education beyond the primary level.