D e sc r i p ti on
Ghana, formally the Gold Coast, is one of the most densely populated countries in West Africa. With
a landmass of roughly the same size as the UK, it has a population of about 20.8 million (2004
est.), and an average population growth rate of 1.36%. Ghana lies south of Burkina Faso with Togo
to the east and the Ivory Coast to the west, and it is separated into 10 different regions: Upper
West; Upper East; Northern; Brong-Ahafo; Volta; Ashanti; Eastern; Western; Central; and Greater
In 1957, Ghana succeeded in being the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence
from Britain, however it was not until the mid-1970s that Ghana started to reform the education
system that had been inherited during British rule. In 1987, the Education Reform programme was
launched, which involved a shift in focus from academic to vocational education in schools,
however, to date, it remains the case that neither vocational nor technical education is as developed
as academic education. As another part of this reform, twelve years of universal compulsory
education was introduced, although despite this, drop-out rates have remained high, especially
Due to the pace of reforms and the corresponding large increase in the number of schools, there
has been a lack of qualified teachers in recent years. The first results of the Senior Secondary
Certificate Examination (SSSCE) were poor and the Government has consequently concentrated on
improving basic English grammar.
Whilst English is the main medium of instruction in secondary and higher education, indigenous
languages such as Akuapem, Ashanti Twi, Ewe, Fante Twi, Ga, and Nzema. The two dialects of Twi
(or Akan) are called Ashanti and Fante, and are the most widely spoken dialects throughout Ghana
(over 8 million speakers). Of these two, Ashanti is spoken by the majority of the Twi-speaking
population, and may be taught as part of the school curriculum.
The academic year varies within the school system but at the tertiary level courses run from
September/October to July.
S c h ool
The following description is of the new school system, introduced in 1987.
School education follows a 6+3+3 pattern, covering primary, junior secondary and senior secondary
education. Basic education is compulsory, and it comprises primary and junior secondary education
Primary schools cover a six-year period from the age of six. During the first three years, children
may be taught in an indigenous language, for instance Twi.
Junior secondary education is a three-year cycle from the age of 12. On completion of the third
year, students sit for the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
Results in the BECE determine whether students progress to senior secondary, technical institutes
or other vocational institutions. These results also determine which stream of education students
are placed in senior secondary school.
Senior secondary education is three years in length from the age of 15.
At the senior secondary level, there are six different streams:
After completing the third year, students take the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination
(SSSCE). This examination was introduced in 1993.
Students are required to take at least three core subjects from the following list
Under the old system, students took GCE O levels on completion of the senior secondary cycle and
then entered the sixth form to study for the GCE A levels. Owing to gradual implementation of the
SSSCEs, until very recently it remained possible for students to study GCE O and A level
examinations in state schools. Private schools were able to teach students the GCE O and A level
syllabuses until the year 2000.
Technical and Vocational Secondary
There are two types of institution offering technical and vocational secondary education: technical
institutes and national vocational training institutes (NVTIs) offering technical and vocational
education at the secondary level. Courses are generally two or three years in length and cover
subjects such as:
Vehicle body repairs
Electrical and mechanical workshop practice
The final qualifications are generally craft examinations. Before the late 1980s, many of these
courses led to City & Guilds or RSA examinations. However, courses have now generally been
T e c h n i c al an d V oc a ti on al E d uc a ti o n
Under the 1989 reforms, it had been planned to upgrade the following institutions from secondary
level to tertiary level institutions:
teacher training institutions
However, this policy has only been partially implemented.
In 1993 polytechnics were upgraded to tertiary level status. There are currently ten polytechnics
situated throughout Ghana. Polytechnics offer four main types of qualification:
Vocational Craft Certificate
Advanced Craft Certificate
Higher National Diploma (HND)
Polytechnics fall within the remit of the National Board for Technical and Professional Examinations
(NABTEB), and they are currently working towards establishing a national policy for technical and
Awards and Qualifications
Vocational Craft Certificate [Non-Tertiary]
Vocational Craft Certificates are similar to those offered in Technical Institutes (see vocational
Advanced Craft Certificate [Non-Tertiary / Tertiary Technician]
This represents training towards Technician Part 1, 2 and 3 awards. Technician Part 3 is full
technician level and allows access onto HND programmes.
Diplomas [Tertiary Technician]
Technician-level diploma courses are available for students who hold SSSCEs. The length of the
course varies depending upon the discipline, although these courses are now rare and are available
only in applied science and business management.
Higher National Diploma (HND)
The general minimum entrance requirements for HND programmes in Ghana are passes in three
core subjects at SSSCE including English, Mathematics and Science, and passes in any three
(relevant) elective subjects (with an aggregate score of 24 or better). However there are many
other routes onto an HND course, including students who complete Technician Part 3 awards
(Advanced Craft Certificates). Mature applicants can also apply for entrance onto the course as long
as they are 25 years old (or over) and have at least three years work experience (as well as the
general English and Mathematics requirements). Certain qualifications (depending on their
relevance to the programme in question) will provide the student with credit, thus shortening the
duration of the diploma, however the HND is generally three years in length.
Courses are available in a variety of fields such as:
Fashion and textiles
Hotel and catering
Pharmaceutical dispensing laboratory technology
Progression from HNDs onto degree courses with advanced standing remains rare, although the
government is seeking to address this.
H i g h er E d u c a ti o n
There are five public universities in Ghana, and these are the only universities that can offer
accredited bachelor degree courses. Other universities / university colleges can offer bachelor
degree programmes, however these institutions are affiliated to one of the five public universities,
and the final degree certificates are awarded by the public universities in question. The standard of
these institutions varies with most recently established.
Students must have passes in six subjects in the SSSCE with credit passes in core English, core
mathematics, core science and any three electives. The minimum overall aggregate score for
university entrance is 24 or less, however in reality a student is unlikely to be admitted into
university with a score over 15 or 16, and minimum entrance requirements for students to get onto
high demand courses, such as Medicine and Law, will often be around six. Students used to also
take part in the University Entrance Examination to determine eligibility for university, although,
this has been discontinued in place of the SSSCE. In some cases, students holding the SSSCE will
also have to take a University Entrance Examination (UEE) as well.
Mature students can also apply for university entrance, and need only basic qualifications. They
must be 30 years old (or over), and must have relevant professional experience. Normally mature
students will be required to sit a UEE.
Holders of an HND can enrol onto a university degree course with two years credit, thus starting in
the third year of a four-year degree programme.
Two universities, the University of Ghana and the University of Science and Technology (UST), offer
two-year undergraduate courses leading to the award of the Diploma. Courses are available in a
wide range of vocational disciplines
The University of Cape Coast also offers the following diploma programmes:
Laboratory Technicians diploma - 3 years
Health Sciences Education - 2 years
Diploma in Basic Education (Extra Mural) - 2 years
The UCEW awards undergraduate diplomas in educational subjects.
Bachelor degree courses are four years in length, and each year is given a level, level 100 being the
first year, level 200 the second year, and so on. Generally, a Bachelor's degree takes three or four
years depending on whether the student enrolled with GCE A levels (three years) or SSSCE grades
(four years). The general structure of the four-year degree involves a student taking three subjects
at level 100 and 200, one or two subjects at level 300, and one or two subjects at level 400. The
degree structure is now modelled on a semester course credit system and students may select
courses outside their major disciplines to make up the number of credits required for graduation.
The project in the final year usually takes up to half of the student's time (although this proportion
varies) and involves a literature review rather than independent research.
At UST, the duration of BSc. (human biology) and the BA (Arts) programmes is three years for A
level holders only. All other programmes are four years in duration, including:
BSc. Computer Science
BA Publishing Studies
All of these were previously three-years in length.
(Private) University Colleges
New privately-run university colleges have, in recent years, been granted access to operate in
Ghana. The new institutions also offer four-year Bachelor degree programmes. However, until the
quality of these degrees is beyond question, the institutions are affiliated to one of the public
universities, who are responsible for awarding the final qualification.
Only the five public universities offer postgraduate qualifications.
Postgraduate Diploma courses require a Bachelor degree for admission and are either two
semesters full-time or four semesters part-time in length.
There is little consistency of Master's degree titles or programme duration. Broadly speaking the
following are the main type of master's degree:
Master's degrees which take 12 months and involve coursework and presentation of a
dissertation, such as international affairs, communication studies and adult education.
Two-year Master's degree programmes, where the first year is taught and the second
research-based. For instance, management and architecture.
Master's of Philosophy (M.Phil.) degree which takes a minimum of 2 academic years and is
predominantly researched-based. This route is being discouraged because of the disparity
The MBA/MPA degree also takes two academic years and may be pursued either entirely by
coursework and dissertation or by coursework and presentation of a thesis.
Candidates must spend the first two years studying at the university. If the candidate has taken the
Master's degree within the same university this period is one year. The student may then pursue
studies outside the university or spend the remaining two years in the same university to complete
the degree. Entrance is currently based upon a Master's degree. There are initiatives to introduce
direct entry from a relevant bachelor (with students initially enrolling on MPhil programmes and the
full programme to PhD is 3 years), although this does not currently happen.
The PhD is completed entirely by research (i.e. by presentation of a thesis) and takes a minimum of
The DPhil is also entirely research and is awarded on consideration of published works of academic
merit; the standard being no less than that of PhD. Only graduates from universities with 10 years
standing are eligible for the award of the DPhil. degree. The Doctor of Medicine (MD degree) covers
the medical specialities only. Conditions for the award of the MD degree are the same as for the
T e ac h er E d uc at i on
There are two principal forms of teacher training: teacher training colleges and universities. Post-
secondary teaching courses are in the process of being upgraded to tertiary level Diploma
programmes. Only the University of Cape Coast and the University of Education, Winneba offer
degree level teacher training programmes.
There are 38 Teacher Training Colleges at the post-secondary level offering three-year courses,
leading to the Post-Secondary Teacher's Certificate A. Since 1991, students have specialised in
either humanities or sciences. From 2004, these courses are being upgraded to three-year tertiary
level Diploma programmes (in academic terms, the Post-Secondary Teacher's Certificate is
considered to allow students entry onto the first year of relevant Bachelor degree programmes.)
Until the late 1980s, students who had completed junior secondary school or had not completed
senior secondary education could enter a four-year course. The final award was the Post Middle
Those who had successfully completed Senior Secondary education could enter a three-year
programme leading to the award of a post-secondary Teacher's Certificate 'A'.
Teacher training at the secondary level is provided by the University College of Education of
Winneba (UCEW), which previously consisted of Advanced Teacher Training Colleges. These colleges
offered three-year courses for holders of the Certificate A. The courses led to the award of a
Diploma and were specialised in one subject.
The university college offers:
One-year courses leading to the award of a Certificate in Education for non-professional
teachers in technical and vocational subjects.
Three-year courses for holders of the Certificate A, Specialist Certificate and two level
subjects leading to the award of a diploma.
In-service Distance Education courses for holders of a good diploma from one of the
defunct colleges; namely, Specialist Training College (STC), National Academy of Music
(NAM), Kusami Advanced Technical Teachers College (KATTC), Advanced Teacher Training
College, School of Ghanaian Languages, and St. Andrews Training College.
Two-year degree courses for holders of a certificate, or diploma in educational subjects.
Many graduates do not undertake teacher training before taking up teaching positions. However,
there are three types of teacher training qualification for graduates:
Diploma in Education (DipEd)
Bachelor of Education (BEd)
Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE)
Students may take a Diploma in Education (DipEd) concurrently with the Bachelor degree. Courses
are generally four years in length.
The University of the Cape Coast offers the Postgraduate Certificate of Education as a sandwich
G r ad i n g S y s tem
Graded 1-9, with 1 being the highest grade.
West African Examinations Council
2/A Very Good
University of Ghana, Legon
Grade Numerical Marks % Interpretation Grade Point
A+ 80-100 Outstanding 4.00
A 70-79 Excellent 4.00
65-69 Very Good 3.75
B+ 60-64 Good 3.50
B 55-59 Above Average 3.00
50-54 Average 2.50
C+ 45-49 Pass 2.00
C 40-44 Pass 1.50
D 30-39 Fail 1.00
F 0-29 Fail 0.00
A 70 upwards
N.B. UST does not use 'E' in its grading system. Although 40 is a pass mark in individual courses, a
student needs a cumulative weighted average (CWA) of 45 marks or higher to satisfy the
requirements for graduation.
UCC, Cape Coast and UCEW, Winneba
A 70 upwards
E below 30
UDS - Tamale
70 onwards A - Excellent
60-69 B - Very good
50-59 C - Above average
40-49 D - Pass
Below 40 Fail
The final degree is classified as follows:
Second class - upper division
Second class - lower division
L i s t o f R ec og n i s e d H i g h er E d uc a ti o n I n st i t u ti o n s
1. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
2. University for Development Studies
3. University of Cape Coast
4. University of Education, Winneba
5. University of Ghana
6. University of Mines and Technology
B. Private University Colleges
1. All Nations University College
2. Ashesi University College, Ghana
3. Catholic University College of Ghana
4. Central University College
5. Islamic University College, Ghana
6. Methodist University College, Ghana
7. Presbyterian University College
8. Valley View University College
9. Wisconsin International University College, Ghana
C. Private Tertiary Educational Institutions - Theological Colleges
1. Akrofi-Christaller Memorial Centre for Mission Research and Applied Theology
2. Christian Service College
3. Ghana Baptist Theological Seminary
4. Ghana Christian College and Seminary
5. Maranatha Bible College
6. Trinity Theological Seminary
D. Private Tertiary Educational Institutions - Distance Learning Institutions
1. RDI West Africa Limited (Distance Learning Centre for University of Leicester)
2. UNISA Ghana College & Kludjeson Institute of Technology (KIT)
E. Private Tertiary Educational Institutions - Tutorial Colleges
1. Academy of Business Administration (Accra Campus)
2. Ghana School of Marketing
3. Graduate School of Management (Kanda Campus)
4. Institute of Management Studies
5. Intercom Programming and Manufacturing Company (Ltd.) [IPMC]
6. NIIT Education and Training Centre (Ring Road, Accra Centre)
7. Premier Institute of Law Enforcement Management and Administration
8. West Africa Computer Science Institute
9. Zenith College
F. Private Tertiary Educational Institutions - Others
1. Academy of Screen Arts (East Legon)
2. Africa Institute of Journalism and Communications, Accra
1. Accra Polytechnic
2. Bolgatanga Polytechnic
3. Cape Coast Polytechnic
4. Ho Polytechnic
5. Koforidua Polytechnic
6. Kumasi Polytechnic
7. Sunyani Polytechnic
8. Takoradi Polytechnic
9. Tamale Polytechnic
10. Wa Polytechnic
H. Other Tertiary Institutes
1. College of Renewable Natural Resources
2. Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ)
3. Ghana Institute of Management and Public (GIMPA)
4. Institute of Professional Studies (IPS)
Q ual i fi c a ti on l i s t
Basic Education Certificate Examination / Junior Secondary School Leaving Certificate
(Former Middle School Leaving Certificate)
Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (since 1993)
West African Higher School Certificate / GCE A level
West African School Certificate / GCE O Level
Certificate of Forestry
Diploma (from Polytechnic)
Diploma in Agriculture
Diploma in Nursing
Higher National Diploma
Technician Part 1
Technician Part 2
Technician Part 3
Certificate (Undergraduate University Programme)
Diploma (Undergraduate University Programme)
Master's degree (1 year)
Master's degree (2 years) / Master of Philosophy degree
C ha r t
2 = study in years
G l o s sa r y
BECE - Basic Education Certificate Examination
SSSECE - Senior Secondary Certificate Examination
U/G - University of Ghana
UCC - University of Cape Coast
UCEW - University College of Education of Winneba
UDS - University for Development Studies
UST - University of Science and Technology, Kumasi