Educational reform as a development strategy : the experience of Ghana
In 1957, when Ghana became independent, development was being identified with economic growth. Consequently, Ghana introduced educational innovations aimed at providing qualified personnel to facilitate economic growth and thus accelerate national development. But these measures proved ineffective. Therefore, in 1973, the country's educational priorities were reappraised. This provided the framework for an educational reform programme whose implementation commenced in September 1987. The purpose of this study was to explore the status of the 1987 reform programme in order to assess its prospects and potential for national development using, as indices of judgement, lessons from the educational experiences of Japan and Sweden and eleven developing countries (Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, PNG, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe), and Ghana's own past experiences. Some data for the study were obtained by interviewing 141 stakeholders including teachers, headmasters, education officials, Teachers' Association officials, students and parents. Other data were derived from questionnaires administered to a sub-sample of 84 teachers from a national teacher sample; 40 other teachers and 540 students from 10 case-study schools, comprising six senior secondary and four junior secondary schools in the Brong-Ahafo Region. These data were supplemented by non-participant observation data collected from the case-study schools, official records and media reports. The results of the study suggest that although stakeholders accept the rationale of the reform programme, its prospects are fragile because both the culture of educational provision and the attitudes of stakeholders contradict the objectives of the reform. There are mismatches between curricular intentions and actual implementation and students are not receiving the necessary formation to enable them meet the demands of the dualistic economy. The curricular, pedagogic and administrative problems of the reform are similar to those observed in other developing countries and are attributable to a hasty implementation based on a top-down, bureaucratic and power-coercive approach. The study concludes that unless these contradictions and problems are rectified, the reform programme will have little impact. It proposes a model that could minimise the problems of implementation and facilitate future reform efforts.