As educators in Ghana turn to alternative methods of schooling to comply with government-mandated measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, stark class divides in the country’s education system have come under the spotlight. President Nana Akufo-Addo ordered an indefinite closure of all schools from March 16. Educators have looked toward holding classes online via the Zoom meeting app or WhatsApp, but have run up against deficiencies in the country’s electrical grid and high internet costs. Ghana’s “digital divide” is so great that nearly half the population is believed to be without access to the internet through mobile devices.
Even before the pandemic, public school closures have been a regular occurrence due to teacher shortages, delays in feeding grants, and a lack of school facilities. Many of Ghana’s wealthier families send their children to private schools due to the poor condition of most public schools. Homeschooling has also become an option, but here, too, Ghanaians who need to continue working during the pandemic or risk food insecurity have little time to dedicate to teaching.
Why It Matters
COVID-19 has revealed a number of societal faults in every country on the planet, no less so for Africa. Ghana’s gains in education and GDP growth over the past two decades have seen greater investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in recent years, and Google opened its first African artificial intelligence laboratory in the capital Accra. Ensuring that Ghana’s education system can keep up with the growing demand for highly skilled workers and researchers will require tackling problems in the public school system such as insufficient funding and a lack of infrastructure.