The Ghanaian school system

In Ghana there is obligatory primary education for everyone free of charge. After two years of kindergarten , all children have to go to a primary school for at least six years. The education in the lower classes is often local languages, for example Twi, but the English lessons start early. In the last years of primary education they often teach English. Even after primary school children still have compulsory education: everyone should finish Junior High School (JHS = secondary education). Pupils can’t choose subjects yet, although a school as a whole has some choice in the curriculum they offer. For example, there are JHS-schools where they teach French, and other schools where it is a local language, such as Twi, Ga, or Ewe, that can be an exam subject. Science is an obligatory subject for all JHS pupils, of which Physics is an integral part. The JHS will finish with a central exam. The compulsory school attendance stops after JHS. Pupils who get their degree can start working right away, but there are different options for continued education. It is customary to become an apprentice at, for example, a tailor or hairdresser.

More formal are the Technical High Schools (HighTecs) or Senior High Schools (SHS). Only students with a reasonable grade for their JHS examination will be accepted on these schools. On an SHS the students choose, besides a number of compulsory subjects, a profile consisting of three or four electives. Here as well integrated science is a compulsory class for everyone, and besides that there are different profiles in which physics is an elective. The highest rated profile, for which only the best students will be accepted, is Science: consisting of the electives Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics. The SHS will also be finalized with a central exam. After that the students with the right profile, high grades, and enough money can move on to one of the scarce places on a polytechnic or university. The government provides a scholarship to these students which they have to pay back later with a year of national service. Many students fulfill their national service as teacher on a village school. Unfortunately, there is little to no inspection on following compulsory education. Also, the children hardly ever have to do a second class over again. Thus, it regularly occurs that students at JHS can barely read, write, or calculate.