The causes, processes and consequences of student drop-out from Junior Secondary School (JSS) in Ghana : the case of Komenda-Edina-Eguafo-Abrem (K.E.E.A.) district
Despite open access to both primary and junior secondary school (JSS), non-enrolment and dropout have been countrywide problems in Ghana. This thesis investigates the nature of student dropout from JSS in one district in the country, through four main questions. What is the relationship between drop-out rates and school characteristics of JSS in K.E.E.A. district? What are the factors causing students to drop out? What are the processes of dropping out? What are the consequences of dropping out? The thesis investigates the above questions in two phases: the first on a macro level, by means of a school survey of all 39 schools in the district; and the second on a micro level, by means of an in-depth study of drop-outs from four schools. In the school survey, among the school factors included in the current study, few showed significant association with the drop-out rates. (However, in subsequent in-depth study, the school characteristics were found to exert some influence; for example, the schools with low drop-out rates had stronger teacher commitment). In the school survey, drop-out rates were clearly associated with gender. The in-depth study of 32 drop-outs from four schools suggested that the cause of drop-out was predominantly finance for males and pregnancy for females. In a comparison of 32 drop-outs and 32 stay-ins, where age, gender, academic achievement and economic status were matched, few differences were found in family composition and school experience. In the examination of matched pairs, drop-outs tended to display particular characteristics, such as belonging to a minority language/ethnic group, or having a slight physical handicap. Parental divorce was common among both drop-outs and stay-ins. The investigation of the process of leaving school revealed that the problem was more complicated than the surface cause might suggest; there were often multiple causes leading drop-outs to abandon their education. When problems such as parents' divorce, belonging to a minority language/ethnic group, or having a slight physical handicap were coupled with poverty, the combination of these factors could cause students to leave school. Although a cause might not be serious enough to effect drop-out by itself, many students were already on the verge of dropping out; thus very little pressure was necessary to cause them to discontinue their schooling. Girls were more vulnerable than boys. Girls in general showed fewer risk factors yet more girls than boys dropped out. In some cases girls would not have dropped out if they had not become pregnant. After leaving school, most drop-outs engaged in economic activities. Only a few drop-outs wished to go back to school, and almost all wished to undertake an apprenticeship to lead to selfemployment. The occupational skills learned in apprenticeship were gender-specific, and women had fewer choices. Inequality was evident at every step; girls were disadvantaged in enrolment, retention, examination results, and in economic activities after leaving school. Education can be an effective tool for empowering the disadvantaged population. However, schooling in rural Ghana was not always meeting the strategic needs of the disadvantaged. Drop-outs, therefore, searched for other alternatives in which they could be successful, such as self-employment in microenterprises.