Girls' Education in Ghana: From Access to Empowerment
The opportunities for girls to attend school in the New Juaben District of the Eastern Region expanded during the USAID-funded Ghana Transition and Persistence (TAP) project’s presence in the community. Through school infrastructure improvements and girl-centered programming, girls are now actively engaging in their learning process in this rural Ghanaian community.
Margaret Danqua-Djan has been head teacher of the Suhyen SDA Junior High School (JHS) throughout the project’s implementation, and she detailed the numerous improvements to both school infrastructure and quality of teaching over the last three years. Suhyen SDA JHS had qualified for a “complete replacement” under the TAP project, including construction of three new classroom blocks and accompanying furniture. In this remote community, Danqua-Djan boasted that hers is a girl-friendly school, but added that the improvements raised enrollment for boys as well.
In addition to the availability of a safe learning environment, TAP also increased the ability of under-resourced students and their families to afford an education. By providing two sets of uniforms to those 20 students with greatest need, one additional barrier to attending school was overcome.
Dede Gloria, a 26-year old mother whose son attends Suhyen, saw the new building and students wearing new uniforms, and decided she too wanted to enroll. She had dropped out of school years before, but as a student now in Form 3, Dede Gloria is attending regularly, studying for the national Basic Education Certificate Examinations (BECE), and once she graduates, hopes to continue her education in senior high school.
Like all the other TAP schools, students at Suhyen SDA JHS also participated in TAP’s annual Girls’ Camp. In collaboration with the Girls Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service, TAP organized these annual camps to inspire girls to complete junior high school (JHS). Each TAP school selected four girls to participate annually, based on the students’ high academic performance, good behavior, and participation in extra-curricular activities.
Held for a week in April of 2013, the Eastern Region’s camp hosted 307 girls at the Presbyterian College of Education in Akropong Akuapem. Activities at camp included study clubs, physical education, life skills courses, career counseling, discussions on health and relationships, children’s rights, field trips to various landmarks and historic sites, and a visit with street children to learn about their hardships. A total of 708 girls participated in the camps across all regions.
Christina, a 12-year-old (Form 2) student at Suhyen, participated in the 2013 Girls’ Camp. Her favorite part of the week was the group excursion to Accra, her first visit to her country’s capital city. She was also inspired by meeting a nurse at the camp who spoke as a role model for the girls, and as a result of that interaction, Christina now wants to pursue nursing as a career.
During their time at camp, girls demonstrated a willingness to take up leadership roles with increased confidence. Head Teacher Danqua-Djan also commented that after the camp, many girls returned back to school with more confidence speaking English and wanted to continue speaking it even at home.
As a result of these and other project interventions, school enrollment of Suhyen SDA JHS increased from 32 to 140 students, many of whom are girls. In appreciation for the increased access to education and opportunities for girls in the community, Head Teacher Danqua-Djan stated, “I will never forget USAID TAP.”