Western (Contd)

Posted by GhanaNation on 4/19/2007 9:48:14 AM

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Western (Contd)

Western (Contd)

Institutional sector of employment


For all districts, the private sector (both formal and informal) provides employment to more than 70 per cent of the working population. It is only in Shama-Ahanta East that about a tenth of the working population is in the public sector. The metropolis also has a larger proportion of workers in the private formal sector than other districts. This is not surprising because the metropolis provides a home to major establishments and government offices.


The trend for each institutional sector does not change much for both sexes. The private informal sector is still dominant for both sexes across the districts, though the proportion of females in the sector is higher than it is for males in all districts. On the other hand, the proportion of males engaged in the public and private formal sectors is higher than it is for females, for all districts. Shama-Ahanta East (24.1%) and Wassa West (22.2%) have the highest percentage of male workers in the private formal sector.


The corresponding female shares are 13.7 and 14.5 per cent respectively. This is mainly because the Shama-Ahanta East has several private and joint venture manufacturing industries such as the cement, cocoa processing, household utilities, the tobacco (cigarette) industry, distilleries, private hotels and catering establishments, the shipping industry and related enterprises such as stevedoring, and wood processing industries to name a few. All the gold and manganese mining industries in Wassa West are either fully privately owned or substantially private with minor public shares


 
 
cultural and social structure
Cultural and Social Structure


The Western Region comprises five major indigenous ethnic groups. Oral tradition has it that early ancestors of these people migrated from the source of the River Nile in search of fertile land and also to escape from political and social conflict. These groupings exhibit a high degree of cultural homogeneity, especially in the areas of lineage, inheritance and succession, marriage and religion.


The location occupied by the five major ethnic groups in the region cannot be clearly and unambiguously defined, as their boundaries overlap. The Ahantas, who form about 6 percent, and the Nzemas (including the Evalues) 11 per cent of Ghanaians by birth in the region, occupy the entire coastline from Shama on the east to the western border of Ghana. Both the Ahanta and Nzema celebrate the ‘Kundum’ festival in remembrance of their ancestors. Since after, and on the basis of the results of the 2000 Census, new districts have been created. These are Bia, with its capital at Essam-Debiso and Amenfi East with its capital at Wassa Akropong.


The Wassa people, who form about 12 per cent of Ghanaians by birth in the region, can be found further inland off the coast into the interior. Their annual ‘Eddie’ festival is celebrated to coincide with the harvest period of farm produce. The Sefwis who represent about 11 per cent and Aowins who constitute about 3 per cent of Ghanaians by birth in the region are in the northern part of the region and share a boundary with the Brong Ahafo Region. Both groups celebrate the annual Alluolie (Yam) festival.5 The languages/dialects of the Sefwis and Aowins are very similar to each other, and to the Ahanta and Nzema languages. The four groups can converse with each other in their own peculiar dialects or languages and still understand each other.


There are other indigenous minorities such as the Pepesa. The Wassa are divided into various sub-ethnic groups, namely the Wassa Fiase/Mpohor and Wassa Amenfi. The Pepesa, who are located within the Fiase Traditional area at Dompim, Simpa and the surrounding villages, south of Tarkwa, have their own peculiar dialect more akin to, and understood by the Nzemas, Ahantas, Aowins and Sefwis. The Nzemas are divided into the Evalue, Dwira, Ellembelle and Jomoro. Their various versions of the Nzema language differ only very slightly in very few insignificant ways. There is however only one standard written Nzema language.


It is worth noting that although Ahanta, Nzema, Wassa, Sefwi and Brossa (Aowin) are the languages spoken by the indigenes of this region, Fante is widely spoken as a second language in the southern part of the region. It is the school language and medium of instruction in lower primary classes in many of the basic schools. Twi is more widely spoken in the Sefwi and Bibiani areas even though Fante is also widely spoken in the same areas. The only other language used as a school language/medium of instruction is Nzema, even though Ahanta is now a written language.


About 18 per cent of Ghanaians by birth in the region are Fantes. Apart from the Fantes, other ethnic groups who have migrated into the region are the Asantes (7.3%), Ewes (5.9%), Brongs (3.4%) and Kusasis (2.9%). Most of the region’s inhabitants are either Ghanaians by birth (92.2%) or by naturalisation (4.1%), with a few immigrants from other neighbouring West African countries. There is complete freedom of religious belief in the region; however, Christianity (81.0%) and Islam (8.5%) are dominant. Traditional religion is also practised by 1.5 per cent of the region’s population, while as many as 8 per cent reported no religious affiliation.


The level of literacy in the region is 58.2 percent, compared to the national average of 57.9 per cent. The level of literacy for females (47.9%) in the region is low as compared to males (68.0%). This low literacy level for females could be linked to the low level of educational attainment in the region. The highest educational attainment level by females (42.4%) in the region is primary, while for males (42.4%) it is middle/junior secondary school (JSS). These figures are unacceptable, and access to education should be linked with parity in basic school enrolment, if there should be any improvement in literacy levels. Nearly two-thirds (64.3%) of those currently in school in the region are at the primary level while only 21.3 per cent are in JSS.


The composition and structure of the Ghanaian household are a general reflection of the social structure of the Ghanaian society. The Western Region is no exception, and most households in the region follow the traditional household setting of a man, wife and children, with an extended family composition comprising of other relations. A good proportion of females (61.4%) in the region are in some form of co-habitation as against 56.6 per cent of males. Co-habitation includes formal unions that are customary or religious as well as informal unions for persons 15 years and older. For the region as a whole, 58.9 per cent are in such unions, while 29.3 per cent have never married. Children in the region constitute about 40.0 per cent of the average household composition, mostly headed by males.


The head of the household is the one who is identified as the head by members of the household and not necessarily the one who maintains the household. For the region, 72 per cent male-headed households as against 28 per cent female-headed households. Other relatives and grandchildren, who are an extension of the nuclear family, make up 26 per cent of the household structure. According to the 2000 Census, there are 410,412 households in the region, occupying 259,874 housing units, which give an average of 1.6 households per house. Comparable past averages are 2.2 for 1970 and 2.0 for 1984. This may be the result of increases in supply of houses or a slow-down in the formation of new households.


The average household size, that is, the average number of persons in a household, has been on the increase since 1960, when 3.8 was recorded. This increased to 4.0 in 1970 and to 4.4 in 1984. The average number of persons per household for 2000 is 4.7. Notwithstanding the constant increase over the years, the household size in the region is still below the national average of 5.1. The observed large household sizes over the years may be the result of the high fertility rate (4.4 per woman) prevailing in the region and the practice of adult children with offspring, staying with their parents.


The number of houses in the region increased from 61,103 in 1960 to 127,427 in 1984, and further to 259,874 in 2000. This constitutes a percentage increase in housing stock of about 103.9 during the 16-year period. Increase in housing stock has lagged behind population growth as reflected in the number of people per house in the region, which is still considered too high, notwithstanding its steady decline from 10.2 in 1970 to 9.0 in 1984, and further to 7.4 in 2000. Household members or relatives own more than half of the houses in the region; and generally make them available to other relatives either for a token rent or free of charge. Most of the houses, particularly in the rural areas, are constructed with sun-dried mud bricks with cemented floors and corrugated metal roofing materials.


Households in the urban areas have access to electricity, while a large number of peri-urban and rural households are also gradually gaining access to electricity through the rural electrification programme, even though this programme has a very long way to go and has touched only a few communities which are fairly close to urban centres. Those without electricity use mainly kerosene as lighting fuel. Fuel for cooking is mainly charcoal and firewood, even for quite a sizeable number of urban dwellers, even though liquid petroleum gas and electricity are used for cooking in some homes, particularly in the big cities and towns. Treated pipe-borne water is available mainly in the urban areas while the rural areas rely mainly on surface waters such as rivers, streams small lakes and springs. A few have access to deep boreholes and relatively shallow but clean water wells.


Demographic characteristics


The population of the region has increased over the years, from 626,155 in 1960 to 1, 924, 577 in 2000, representing about 10 per cent of the total population of the country.In effect, population growth in the region has accelerated over the past forty years. Between 1960 and 1970, the population grew by 23 percent, more than doubled between 1970 and 1984, while between 1984 and 2000, it increased by 66.2 per cent. From 2.1 in 1970 to 3.2 in 2000, the region’s intercensal growth rate has been faster than the national average, which has remained fairly constant between 2.4 and 2.7 over the same period. The 1984-2000 inter-censual growth rate (3.2%) is one of the highest in the country, after Greater Accra (4.4%) and Ashanti (3.4%) regions.


The phenomenal growth in population is attributable to several factors. Apart from an increase in birth rate and decrease in mortality rate over the period, one major factor has been in-migration as a result of increased economic activity, particularly between 1984 and 2000 when the region experienced a boom in both the mining and the cocoa industries. If the factors that have promoted this relatively high population growth rate in the region continue, the region’s population is likely to double by the year 2020. Planners therefore have to plan well ahead to meet the challenges of these factors that promote rapid urbanisation.


The population density for the region has also been increasing steadily over the years, another factor of rapid urbanization and increased economic activity. The rate of growth of the population density has been of the same magnitude as the population growth rate. The biggest growth of 67.7 per cent was experienced between 1984 and 2000, when the population density increased from 48.4 to 80.5 per square kilometre, which is now the sixth highest in the country. This rapid increase in population density has both economic and social implications, particularly for the provision of housing and health facilities, as well as land acquisition for economic activities.


The age structure of the region follows the known trend of a developing economy with a broad base that gradually tapers off with increasing age. In the Western Region, the birth rate is far higher than the death rate, resulting in a more rapid increase in the size of the younger population. Fewer economically active people therefore support a large dependent population. With a general increase in life expectancy, the growth is more likely to be due to higher birth rate than a high mortality rate of the young.


The distribution of children (15 years), the aged (64 years) and the working-age population (15-64 years) yields a dependency ratio of 88.3 per cent for the region for the year 2000; the dependency ratio for 1984 was 90.9 per cent. Although there is a decline from the 1984 proportion, the present ratio is still high and this means more funds need to be provided by workers for health, education and consumption needs of their dependents.


Females constitute 49.2 per cent of the region’s population, translating into a high sex ratio (males to 100 females) of 103.4, which has not changed much from the 1984 (102.6) and 1970 (104.7) ratios. The high level of male migration into the region in search of jobs in the agriculture and mining sectors could explain this excess of males over females. While there are more males in the farming and mining areas of Sefwi and Wassa, there are more females in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolitan area, a totally urban district, and this could be due to trading and other commercial activities, in which activity females are known to constitute the majority nationwide.


Migration (both in and out) in the region has been affected by geographical and economic factors over the years. The region has the highest rainfall in the country, with the Axim area and the Ankobra and lower Tano river basins having the highest rainfall in the whole country. The high rainfall makes the region suitable for the cultivation of rain-fed forest area cash crops such as cocoa, coconut palm, oil palm, rubber, and a small amount of coffee. The region has the highest production figures for all these four economic crops. This might have attracted people from other regions, notably Brong Ahafo and Ashanti, to the farming areas. In 1970, 35 per cent of the inhabitants of the region were born outside the region. This figure declined to 28.4 per cent in 1984 and recovered to 29.3 per cent in 2000.


The in-migration into Sekondi-Takoradi has resulted in a large increase in population density of the city to about 960 per square kilometre. The population share of the region, which increased over the years from 9.0 per cent in 1970 to 10.0 per cent in 2000, is also partly an indication of net in-migration to the region. The proportion of urban population for the region rose from 24.7 per cent in 1960 to 26.9 in 1970 before declining to 22.6 in 1984. 36.3 per cent of the region’s population now lives in urban areas. The sharp increase may be partly due to a steady drift of rural migrants to the urban areas, and partly due to the growth of previously rural communities into urban centres. Of the 20 largest localities, 9 have grown from rural localities to urban status since 1984. These are Elubo, Agona Nkwanta, Aiynase, Dadieso, Mpohor, Aboadze, Sefwi Bekwai and Apowa. The most phenomenal has been in Elubo, growing from a population of 1,317 in 1970 to 1, 984 in 1984 and to 10,428 in 2000.


This is most probably the result of the construction of the bridge across the Tano River, and the shift of border activities from Jewi Wharf near Half Assini, to Elubo. The region’s decline in urban population between 1970 and 1984 could be attributed to the depression in economic activities, particularly cocoa and mining, during the same period. Despite the increased urbanisation, the region remains largely rural. Out of the total number of 8,933 communities, about 500 (6%) have a population of more than 5,000.


Natural resources


The Western Region is the largest producer of cocoa and timber, the second highest producer of gold, with the potential to become the highest producer of this commodity. There are five major gold mines, namely Teberebie and Iduaprem goldfields, both now owned by Ashanti goldfields, Prestea/Bogoso mines now owned by a South African company, Tarkwa goldfields, and Aboso goldfields located at Damang near Huni Valley. There are other proven but as yet unexploited ore deposits at Tarkwa, Aboso, Bondaye, and the forest reserve areas of Jomoro and Nzema East, Aowin-Suaman, Amenfi and Mpohor-Wassa-East districts.


The region has the largest and only economically viable rubber plantation in the country, stretching from Agona Junction to Bonsa on the Tarkwa road, from Agona Junction to Dadwen on the Axim road, and Baamiangor in the Dwira traditional area on the Esaaman to Dominase/Enibil road. The plantations used to support the erstwhile but still potentially viable Firestone tyre factory at Bonsa, but now support only the rubber-processing factory at Agona Junction, which processes rubber into semi-finished material for export. The only commercially viable manganese mine in the country, located at Nsuta, which has been exploited for over seventy years, is still operating.


Commercial productions of vegetable oil palms such as coconut and palm oil, both of which have the potential of rivalling cocoa, are most actively pursued in this region. The Benso Oil Palm Plantation, owned by Unilever Ghana Limited, is one of the largest in the country. The country’s only bauxite mine currently in production is at Awaso in the Sefwi District. Other potential areas of deposits in this region are yet to be fully explored for exploitation. It is scientifically proven that the large but as yet unexploited iron deposits at Oppong Manso also have about 25 per cent of exploitable bauxite that can be a valuable by-product if ever the iron deposits are exploited. The region used to have commercially viable deposits of alluvial diamond in the Bonsa River Basin, which was actively exploited by small-scale miners in the 1940s and the 1950s, but exploitation of these deposits declined and finally stopped in the early 1970s. It is however believed that the river basin could still be prospected for diamonds.


The largest potential deposits of gas and crude oil that are nearest to possible economic exploitation can be found in the Tano Basin and offshore in the Jomoro (Western Nzema) District. The same district has high quality limestone and fine sand deposits upon which the country’s cement and glass industries can rely. Major timber and wood-processing factories are found in Takoradi, Sefwi-Wiawso, Samreboi and Bibiani. Following the deterioration in capacity of the hydroelectric generation at Akosombo and Akuse, the Western Region now supplies the whole country with the largest single quantity of electricity with the three thermal plants at Aboadze near Sekondi. Current share of the Aboadze plant is estimated at between 50 and 70 per cent of national output. Another gas-fired thermal plant is expected to be operational soon at Effasu in the Jomoro district. It is expected that both plants will eventually make use of the region’s own gas deposits, as well as gas from Nigeria when the West African Gas Pipeline project comes on stream.


Tourism in the region has been described as the country’s sleeping giant. Even though the Central Region often comes to mind when tourism is discussed, the sheer mass of the tourism potential of the Western Region is yet to be properly assessed and exploited. The region has the second largest concentration of forts and castles in the country6, accounting for seven out of the country’s fifteen selected tourist forts under the Museums and Monuments Board. Central Region also has seven of these. (Anquandah, 1999). Fort St. Anthony in Axim is the second oldest Fort and European settlement in Ghana. The University of Ghana and the University of Pisa in Italy are now mapping out the slave routes from Fort Apollonia in Beyin to northern Ghana. Other forts and castles are Fort St. Sebastian at Shama, where the famous Ghanaian Philosopher Dr. Anton Amo of Axim, (who was captured and sent to Germany as a slave boy in the early 18th century, and who is reputed to have lectured in the University of Halle-Wittemberg in Germany), is buried. Others are Fort Orange in Sekondi, Fort Batenstein at Butre, Fort Gross-Friedrichsburg at Princestown, the only German Fort in the country, and Fort Metal Cross at Dixcove.


The southernmost part of Ghana, and perhaps the whole of West Africa, is Cape Three Points near Busua. The very substantial eco-tourism potential of the region is yet to be fully exploited. The famous Nzulezo village built on stilts on water, and the Amanzule wetlands, which include the internationally recognised bird sanctuary, are located in Nzema East. In the same district can be found the sea turtle conservation area at Krisan near Eikwe. There are clean and still unspoilt coconut palm-lined beaches, well-preserved wildlife parks and forest and game reserves such as Ankasa and Nini-Suhyien, full of forest elephants and other very rare plant and animal species.


The unexplored caves of Mpohor-Wassa-East, including the Rock Shrines of Wassa Domaa, can attract many visitors if exploited. The region has some good moderately priced hotels dotted around the beaches and the industrial areas of Sekondi-Takoradi and Tarkwa. Indeed, economists have predicted that the economic survival of Ghana will depend on what Governments will do to, and how they will treat, the Western Region.In all Ghana has about 80 castles and fortifications built over a period of 300 years, with many of these now in ruins or disuse, and dotted along the coast from Keta to Half Assini.


 
 
social characteristics
For all districts, there is no departure from the traditional Ghanaian household setting consisting of a head, with his/her spouse, children and other family relations. Generally, children (including grandchildren) form more than 40.0 per cent of all households in each district except Mpohor-Wassa East (35.5%). The forest areas of Sefwi-Wiawso, Juabeso-Bia, Aowin-Suaman and Wassa Amenfi have more children per household than the coastal districts.


 
 
In all the districts, there are more male-headed households than female-headed households; males are seldom recorded as spouses. On the other hand, females are recorded more as spouses than as heads of household. Female-headed households are very prominent in Shama-Ahanta East (14.8%) and Ahanta West (16.0%). This may be due to delay in marriage or young adult females with children living independently. Indeed, the fact that there is not a one-to-one correspondence between male heads and female spouses and between female heads and male spouses means that many heads of households may be single parent or single person households. This appears more the case for female heads than it is for male heads. The cultural phenomenon of normally deferring to the male in a sort of patriarchal relationship even if that male is himself dependent on the female of the household, cannot also be discounted in accounting for the high percentage of male heads of household.


 
Marital status


 
Marriage in the region includes formal unions by ordinance, traditional or religious rites and informal co-habiting unions. More than half of the marriageable population (15 years and older) in all districts were living together either on formal or informal basis except in Shama- Ahanta East (45.4%). A variety of social and economic conditions might discourage marriage in the metropolis, which may explain why about two-fifths (43.3%) of persons 15 years and older have never married.


 
The societal expectation that a man should be able to provide economic support for his family even in the face of economic hardship tends to delay marriage in such urban settings. It is also noted that a large proportion of people in the Shama-Ahanta East metropolis contract formal marriage, as compared to districts such as Mpohor-Wassa-East, Wassa Amenfi, and Juabeso-Bia, which have relatively high proportions of informal unions. Ahanta West has a much higher proportion of both divorced (7.8%) and widowed (5.3%) persons as compared to the other districts, while Aowin-Suaman has the lowest rates for divorced (3.8%) and widowed (1.7%) persons.


 
In all the districts, there are more males than females who have never been married. In contrast, larger proportions of females than males are married. This may be because men, who normally have to bear the cost of getting married, have to ensure that they are adequately prepared before marriage. In each of the 11 districts, the percentage of females in both formal and informal unions is higher than males. In the Shama-Ahanta East Metropolitan Area, the percentage of women in both formal (47.1%) and informal (4.6%) unions is the lowest in each case, compared with the predominantly rural districts.


 
Aowin-Suaman has the highest percentage of married females (62.5%) while Mpohor-Wassa East has the second highest percentage of females (11.6%) in informal union. The highest percentage of married males (54.8%) is found in Aowin-Suaman, followed by Juabeso-Bia, while the highest percentage of males in informal union (9.2%) is also found in Mpohor-Wassa East.


 
These observations about the rural districts may be due to a greater proportion of polygamous marriages, which allow more females to be married to fewer males. Larger proportions of females than males are separated, divorced, or widowed in all the districts. This may also be due to the fact that females are less likely than males to remarry after a break. In the case of widowed females, it could also be due to females being married to much older males, who then die earlier and leave them widowed for longer periods.


 
Nationality


 
In all the districts except Juabeso-Bia, 90 per cent or higher of the inhabitants are Ghanaians by birth. Juabeso-Bia has the highest proportion of Ghanaians by naturalization, followed by Sefwi-Wiawso and Wassa Amenfi. Juabeso-Bia and Mpohor-Wassa East have over 2.0 per cent of their nationals from ECOWAS countries. Mpohor-Wassa East again has more non- ECOWAS Africans (2.7%) and non-Africans (1.6%) than any other district. In the case of Juabeso-Bia, the ECOWAS nationals could mostly be from the Ivory Coast, which shares a common border, and hence ethnic similarities, with the district.


 
It is known that there are citizens of the Ivory Coast who owe allegiance to, and rights of succession of chiefs in some of these border districts such as Aowin-Suaman, Juabeso-Bia, Sefwi-Wiawso and Jomoro, and vice versa. The relatively high percentage of non-Ghanaians in Mpohor-Wassa East may be due to the foreign nationals who, at the time of the census, were in the district working to revamp the plantations of the Subri Industrial Paper Limited (SIPL) in Daboase, as well as the expatriate staff of the Benso Oil Palm Plantation and oil mill (BOPP).


 
Ethnicity


 
In Ghana, ethnicity is characterized by one’s language or mother tongue, which sets the inhabitants apart from each other. Nationwide, the Akans constitute the largest ethnic group, representing 49.1 per cent of the population of Ghanaians by birth and this is reflected in the ethnic composition of district populations in the Western Region. The Akan groups constitute more than two-thirds of Ghanaians by birth in every district with Juabeso-Bia having the least (64.9%) and Ahanta West the highest (93.0%)


 
Other significant ethnic minority groupings are the Mole-Dagbon (7.6%), Ewe (5.9%) and the Ga-Dangme (3.5%). The Mole-Dagbon are found mostly in the northern districts of Juabeso-Bia (17.9%), Aowin-Suaman (14.3%) and Sefwi-Wiawso (11.3%). Many of them are involved in farming. The Ewes are predominantly found along the Pra River in Mpohor- Wassa East (12.0%), Aowin-Suaman (7.5%) and Shama-Ahanta East (7.2%). Many of them are involved in fishing around the estuary of the Pra River at Shama, and in farming. The Ga-Dangmes, mostly Krobos from the Eastern Region, are found mostly in Aowin-Suaman (6.3%) and to some extent Mpohor-Wassa East (5.1%) and Sefwi-Wiawso (5.3%). They are also mostly farmers.


 
Religious affiliation


 
In Ghana, there is religious pluralism, in which a wide variety of religious preferences exist side by side. The Western Region depicts this phenomenon of freedom of worship. Christianity is the largest religion in all the districts. Within the Christian religion, Catholics predominate in Jomoro (32.8%) compared with the other districts. Protestants are found mainly in Shama-Ahanta East (25.9%) and Bibiani (22.6%). The Pentecostals, comprising the Pentecosts and Charismatics form more than one-fifth of all religious groups in each district. Spiritualists, ‘Healing Centers’, Prayer Camps, etc classified as ‘Other Christians’ are found mainly in Mpohor-Wassa East (22.3%), Ahanta West (22.2%), and Nzema East (20.8%).


 
Islam is practised mostly in Aowin-Suaman (10.4%), Sefwi-Wiawso (10.1%), and Juabeso- Bia (12.4%). Many of these may belong to the relatively large group of Mole-Dagbon inmigrants found in these districts. For those who profess no religion, Ahanta West recorded the highest of 16.1 per cent. Mpohor-Wassa East (10.0%) and Nzema East (9.4%) follow in that order.


 
Educational attainment


 
Education is the engine that drives much of economic development, so becoming educated is probably the most significant means for personal success. In a number of urban areas of the country, education starts as early as three years in the pre-school; however, school-going age for the 6-year primary education level is pegged at six years, even though many children start a year earlier at five, particularly among the urban middle class, or a year later at seven or more, particularly among the rural farming community. Primary education is of a six-year duration.


 
This is followed by a 3-year junior secondary school (JSS), after which the more academically inclined would continue through another 3 years of senior secondary school (SSS), and then to the university or polytechnic or other post-secondary institutions such as teacher and nursing training institutions. Those who do not make it to the SSS may proceed to commercial, technical or vocational Schools.


 
On the average, of a cohort of 100 Ghanaian children of school-going age, only 70 begin primary one, even though basic education is supposed to be free and compulsory. By the time these children reach junior secondary, only 50 of the original eligible 100 in the cohort remain, an indication that 30 per cent of children of school-going age do not even begin to have any education at all, while another 20 per cent of the original cohort do not go beyond primary school. By the end of junior secondary school, another 30 of the original 100 would have dropped out of the secondary school system, leaving only 20 who eventually make it to senior secondary school.


 
As has been stated earlier, the Western Region is potentially one of the richest regions of the country. Yet in terms of infrastructure and educational facilities, the region faces many difficulties. In this section we shall examine various aspects of education in the region, the challenges the region faces and make recommendations.


 
General educational attainment


 
The Western Region has seen some improvement in educational attainment over the last decade. For instance, in 1984, 28.0 per cent of persons in the region received some basic education (JSS/Middle); this figure increased to 34.0 per cent by 2000. Improved enrolment rates at the primary level since 1984 (87.0%) may account for the noticeable improvement in education attainment in the region (GSS, 1998).


 
For persons aged 6 years and older, 2.2 per cent had attained pre-school level, 37.8 per cent had attained primary school level, 40.9 per cent middle school/junior secondary school, 9.1 per cent with senior secondary school education, 4.1 per cent with vocational or technical education, 2.9 per cent with post secondary (teachers and nurses colleges, etc), and 3.1 with tertiary education. In all the districts, including the rural districts, over 70.0 per cent had attained basic education level (primary and middle/junior secondary).


 
The proportion of persons with only primary education is almost equal to those with up to middle/junior secondary education in all the districts. In Jomoro (40.1% primary and 36.3% middle/JSS) and Shama-Ahanta East (28.8% primary and 40.7% middle/JSS), the relatively low attainments at the basic level are compensated for by relatively high attainments at the senior secondary and tertiary level. Jomoro has 11.0 per cent attainment level for senior secondary school and 3.1 per cent attainment at the tertiary level, while Shama-Ahanta East has 13.4 per cent senior secondary attainment and 4.9 per cent tertiary attainment.


 
Shama-Ahanta East recorded the highest proportion (13.4%), which is understandable in view of its urban and social composition and the concentration of educational institutions and industrial establishments. Jomoro (11.0%), Nzema East (9.1%) Aowin-Suaman (7.3%) and Juabeso-Bia (6.9%) follow in that order. Such high proportions of persons with senior secondary school attainment in such relatively rural districts cannot be readily explained since these districts also have relatively few senior secondary schools, compared to the other districts. Since most of the senior secondary schools are boarding institutions, absence or presence of a school in a locality does not really make a difference to availability.


 
The factors that determine access to schools are the quality of the junior secondary school which determines the capacity of the pupils to pass the entrance examination, and affordability of the senior secondary school to the prospective student, as well as the quality of the senior secondary school into which admission is being sought. Granted that students from districts without secondary schools, or with relatively poor schools, tend to travel to the better-endowed districts to attend boarding schools, these students from such poor rural communities cannot be expected to remain in those communities if the job opportunities for such levels of education do not exist.


 
Although the level of attainment of vocational, technical and commercial education is very low in the entire region, Juabeso-Bia and Aowin-Suaman, in particular, lag behind the rest of the districts, with 2.0 and 1.9 per cent respectively of the population having attained this level of education. Vocational and technical education (VOTEC) is an area to which District Assemblies could devote much more resources as a way of checking rural-urban migration of the youth, as they are more likely to move in the absence of further education after basic education.


 
In all the districts, at the primary and junior secondary level, there is not much difference in educational attainment of males and females. At the primary level, females seem to outnumber males in most districts. The trend however begins to change as one climbs up the educational ladder. At the tertiary level, however, there is a higher achievement level of females at the tertiary level in Mpohor-Wassa East (4.1%), which is below the male figure of 4.3 per cent. Jomoro and Shama-Ahanta East have high proportions of both males and females with senior secondary education. The case of Jomoro could be explained by the presence of large numbers of customs and security personnel at the borders, all of whom are expected to have at least a senior secondary school certificate before they can be recruited into these services.


 
Access to and performance in education
Availability of primary and junior secondary schools


 
There are 12,326 primary schools in the whole country. As at 1997/1998, the Western Region had 1,340 of these, made up of 1,258 public and 82 private schools. By year 1999/2000, this number had reduced to 1,320, made up of 1,240 public and 80 private schools, as a result of the closure of some non-viable private and public schools. With an inter-censual population growth rate of 3.2 percent, the third highest in the country, one would have expected to see a corresponding increase in the number of schools. As at 1998/1999, the country had 6,020 junior secondary schools, of which the Western Region had 655 (10.9%), made up of 622 public and 33 private schools. By year 2000 the number of JSSs in the region had risen to 694.


 
School enrolment at the regional level, 1996/1997 to 1999/2000


 
In the Ghana Education Service, from where the figures were obtained, enrolment and school attendance appear to be used interchangeably. The figures may therefore be regarded as those who were actually attending school at the time the headcount in the various schools was taken and the returns sent to the Regional Office of the Ghana Education Service.


 
Considering the fact that for 1998 and 1999 the region presented 3,568 and 3,544 candidates respectively for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, which should be about a third of the total attendance for those two years (SSS is a three-year programme), one may be inclined to regard the Ministry’s figures to be a more plausible reflection of the true situation. Even if it is assumed that the Ministry’s figures are for public schools only, which is not the case anyway, these huge differences cannot be accounted for by enrolment or attendance at private schools, since these are very few and have very low enrolments, especially at the post primary levels.


 
But there could be other reasons for the higher figures . For example, persons who were pursuing courses that are not normally recognized as secondary or basic school courses, or who were not even in school at all, may have indicated that they were at one level or the other of schooling, but does not reflect in official Ministry of Education statistics.


 
Whether this is the case or not, and whether such cases could introduce such significant differences in data, it is possible that this situation might be revealing the existence of a major demand for school places than what is actually available. The GSS and the Ministry therefore need to undertake some reconciliation of figures to ensure that any differences for school attendance, whether real or apparent, are rectified for use by policy makers and implementers, as well as researchers.


 
Technical and vocational education have not received the sort of attention that should be given to them in a region where there are mining and other industries that will require appropriate middle level manpower. This is however a reflection of what obtains at the national level, where there are only about 23 public vocational and technical institutions. With only about 20 per cent of those who complete junior secondary school moving on to the senior secondary school level, an expansion in technical and vocational education will be one of the best ways of absorbing those who do not move on to the senior secondary level, and preventing them from prematurely joining the job market with no marketable skills.


 
Current school attendance


 
The Ministry of Education data, the two sets of data, in percentage terms, tell virtually the same story. Whereas pre-school and primary school enrolments in all the districts are at high levels for both males and females, and in some cases with even higher female attendance than male, the situation changes from the junior secondary school level, and female enrolment in all the districts drop off drastically.


 
Shama-Ahanta East has 3.6 per cent enrolment at pre-school while in Aowin-Suaman and Jomoro, it is 2.9 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively. At the primary school level also, the rural districts have higher percentages of school attendance than the regional average. For example Wassa Amenfi (68.2%), Aowin-Suaman (68.3%) and Sefwi-Wiawso (67.0%), all have significantly higher attendance rates than the regional average (64.3%) and the fully urban Shama-Ahanta East (56.3%). The situation however drastically changes at the junior secondary level. Shama-Ahanta East (23.6%) and Wassa West (23.1%), the two most urbanized districts have levels of attendance at junior secondary above the regional average of 21.3 per cent.


 
Four of the more rural districts with very high primary school attendance, have junior secondary enrolments below the regional average. These are Aowin-Suaman (19.2%), Wassa Amenfi (20.1%) and Mpohor-Wassa East (20.3%). This implies that in the rural areas, children enroll significantly at pre-school and are able to sustain their attendance up to the end of the primary school, but then drop out after that. Many of them do not go beyond primary school. This may be due to several factors, including lack of junior secondary schools to complement the primary schools, long distances that children have to travel to attend junior secondary school or lack of teachers, all major disincentives for children to stay in school.


 
Performance at the basic education certificate examination


 
The Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) is terminal and determines achievement at the basic level. It is also used to select candidates for the post-basic level. It is therefore a good measure of how a region is performing, or its achievement level, at the basic level. Analysis of such results can also assist policy makers to determine whether basic schools are performing well or deteriorating, in order to institute measures to improve upon facilities in schools in the various districts. This section therefore assesses performance of the various districts at this examination in the Western Region since 1999.


 
Of the 22,229 candidates who sat for the BECE in 1999 in the region, only 624 obtained aggregate 6, constituting 2.8 per cent of all candidates. Of this number, 568 (91%) per cent were from schools in Shama-Ahanta East and Wassa West, where Sekondi-Takoradi, the Regional Capital, and Tarkwa, a gold and manganese mining town, are located. Tarkwa also hosts the Mining Engineering College of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Most of the good quality private and even public junior secondary schools in the region are located in these two districts. An additional 1,958 candidates (8.8%) obtained aggregate 7-15. These two categories of candidates are those who were likely to have made it into any reasonably good senior secondary school, from where they could eventually make it to the tertiary level, or would be equipped with the requisite educational tools for their future social advancement.


 
54.8 per cent of the region’s urban population of 668,836 live in Shama-Ahanta East and a further 11.6 per cent live in Wassa West, mostly Tarkwa, Prestea and Aboso. These two districts account for nearly two-thirds (66.4%) of the urban population, and make up 31.6 per cent of the total population. Yet the two districts produce over 90 per cent of those BECE candidates who are likely to make it to the next level of the education ladder. Juabeso-Bia, on the other hand, has the second largest population in the region (245,035, with 227,689 being rural) but has a very poor educational achievement record.


 
There is a gross rural-urban imbalance in educational opportunities in the region that need to be seriously addressed. Research findings have demonstrated that ability and intelligence are generally evenly distributed in any society, and achievement is the result of the opportunity to develop this ability. The key to improvement in educational standards at all levels in the country therefore lies in the quality of the basic education given to children. Things can be considerably improved with even modest improvements in pedagogy and basic facilities. This has been clearly demonstrated through a case study of the Ahanta West District (Addae- Mensah, 2000).


 
Senior secondary and tertiary education


 
At the senior secondary school level, candidates are not limited to attending schools located in the locality, district or region in which they live. All candidates nationwide are free to choose whatever school they wish to attend, and are admitted provided they meet the minimum entry requirement set by the school of their choice. In order to measure the quality of the senior secondary schools in the Western region, one needs to compare their enrolments as well as performance with schools in other regions, and the extent to which candidates from schools in the region are able to compete nationally and qualify to enter the tertiary and postsecondary institutions. Levels of enrolment are partly a reflection of the ability of the schools to attract adequate qualified candidates nationwide, and this is in turn a reflection of the quality of the school; hence the presentation of tables indicating senior secondary school attendances at the regional and national levels.


 
The Western Region has 42 senior secondary schools, or 8.3 per cent of the 504 senior secondary schools in the country. This puts the region in the 7th position, coming only better than the three northern regions in the number of senior secondary schools. The region in addition has 3 Teacher Training Colleges, 2 Technical/Vocational Schools, a Polytechnic, and the College of Mining and Mineral Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.


 
The 1999/2000 Ministry of Education data and the Ministry of Education data for 1996/1997, though not totally comparable because of different population bases, seems to suggest that the situation in the region has not improved much since 1996.


 
In terms of the population aged 15-19, which ought to be in senior secondary school, the region comes equal at the bottom with Brong Ahafo, with only 7 per cent of that population group being in secondary school in 1996/97. In terms of actual enrolment, the region again comes out equal third from the bottom with Brong Ahafo, accounting for only 6.6 per cent of the total national secondary school enrolment, better than only Upper West (3.4%) and Upper East (4.6%). In Ghana, as noted earlier, students normally travel from one region to another to attend secondary school, so enrolment in a particular region is not necessarily a reflection of enrolment of youth living permanently in that region. The fact that schools in the region record such low enrolment rates in relation to the population, however, may be a reflection of the quality of schools in the region, which do not therefore attract many students from other parts of the country.


 
The causes of the low enrolment rates in secondary schools in the region have been attributed to several factors. In addition to the region having very few quality schools, the situation has also been blamed on early dropout from school by the youth to engage in “galamsey” or illegal gold mining activities. Apart from the methods adopted in this illegal mining being a serious potential health hazard, the future of these young men, with no education and no long-term skills, is uncertain, because they soon become unemployable when their youthful strengths can no longer cope with the demands of “galamsey”.


 
One criterion that is used to measure the performance of secondary schools is the number of students who qualify for admission to a tertiary institution such as the University, by obtaining an aggregate score of 24 or better in six subjects including core English language and core mathematics. Obtaining this aggregate is however no guarantee that one will gain admission into a university, since the competition is so keen that for competitive courses such as administration, medicine, the sciences and engineering, an aggregate score of 12 or better is what is likely to get a student considered for admission in the first place.


 
The ability of students from senior secondary schools in the region to qualify for, and gain admission to, the country’s Universities is also not very encouraging. The 28 schools whose students qualified for consideration for admission to universities were from 8 of the 11 districts. Nine of the schools are located in Shama-Ahanta East and 4 in Wassa West. Nzema East and Ahanta West have 3 schools each.


 
Of the 13,000 students who were pursuing undergraduate studies at the University of Ghana in the 2001/2002 academic year, 9,435 were admitted directly from senior secondary schools. Of this number, the Western Region accounted for only 331 students, or about 3.5 per cent of the total, drawn from only 19 out of the 42 secondary schools located in 7 of the 11 districts.


 
Twenty-three (23) secondary schools in the region were not even represented at the University of Ghana. Even more significant is the fact that 282 or 85 per cent of the 331 students from schools in the region at Legon, were from only eight schools, with Archbishop Porter (16.9%), Fijai (19.0%), GSTS (12.4%) and St. Johns (9.4%) accounting for almost 60 per cent. Just one girls’ secondary school in another region has over 350 students in the University, more than the whole of the Western Region.


 
The situation in the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is no different. The University of Ghana admitted 2,176 students in 1998/1999 and 3,186 in 1999/2000 from 338 educational institutions. For those two academic years, the Western Region schools accounted for only 84 students in 1999 and 97 in 2000. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, including its School of Mines at Tarkwa, admitted 1,210 students in 1998/1999 and 3,766 in 1999/2000 from 226 institutions, and only 65 in 1998/1999 and 164 in 1999/2000 came from schools in the Western Region.


 
In effect, only 20 of the 42 schools in seven districts in the region were able to contribute students to the two universities, with only 14 schools in seven districts contributing students to both universities each year. They contributed 3.8 per cent in 1999 and 3.0 per cent in 2000 of the total national intake to Legon, and 5.4 per cent in 1999 and 4.4 per cent in 2000 of the total national intake to KNUST. Eight schools, namely, Archbishop Porter, Fijai, GSTS, Nkroful, Nsein, Sekondi College, St. Johns and Tarkwa Secondary schools, produced the bulk of the students from the region to these universities. These 8 schools, between them, contributed 70 (83%) of the 84 students to Legon in 1999 and 78 (80%) of the 97 students in 2000. For the KNUST, the 8 schools provided 56 (86%) of the 65 students in 1999 and 149 (91%) of the 164 students in 2000.


 
The region has to take appropriate steps to ensure that education is given all the priority attention it deserves, to avoid being denied its fair share of the natural resources of the region. Investors who come to the region expect to find the requisite manpower to employ in the enterprises they establish. Traditional rulers, opinion leaders, the district assemblies and educational authorities in the region will have to coordinate their efforts to ensure that there is long-lasting, sustainable qualitative change in the educational fortunes of the region.


 
Literacy


 
Apart from Shama-Ahanta East (26.5%) and Wassa West (33.3%), which recorded relatively low levels of illiteracy, most of the districts have levels much higher than the regional average of 41.8 per cent. Literacy is an important indicator of social development and such high levels of illiteracy across the districts indicate under-development in most parts of the region. More than half of the districts (7 out of 11) in the region (Jomoro, Wassa Amenfi, Juabeso-Bia, Aowin-Suaman, Sefwi-Wiawso and Bibiani) have less than 20 per cent of persons above 15 years literate in the English language only, while all the districts have between 1.3 and 2.9 per cent of persons literate in only a Ghanaian language.


 
Literacy in English and a Ghanaian language is however widespread. More than one-quarter of all persons above 15 years throughout the districts are literate in both languages, with the highest being in Shama-Ahanta East (42.3%) and the lowest in Ahanta west (29.0%).


 
The high proportions of persons literate in only English in all the districts, particularly Shama-Ahanta East (29.0%), Wassa West (27.0%), and Mpohor-Wassa East (25.4%), gives cause for concern. These high percentages cannot be accounted for by the relatively low percentage (less than 1.0%) of foreigners in these districts. If it is indeed a manifestation of the fact that both parents and teachers are not giving the local languages the attention they deserve, both at home and at school, then there is an urgent need for a policy reappraisal.


 
Generally, children of the head of household constitute about 40 per cent or more of all households members. In all the districts, there are more male-headed households than female-headed households. In all the districts except Juabeso-Bia, 90 per cent or higher of the inhabitants are Ghanaians by birth. The Akans, who include the indigenous Wassas and Sefwis, and the migrant Fantes, constitute more than two-thirds of Ghanaians by birth in every district.


 
The Western Region has seen some improvements in educational attainment and enrolment rates at the basic level over the last two decades. For instance, the proportion that had attained basic education increased from 28 per cent in 1984 to 34 per cent in 2000. Over 70 per cent of the population in most districts have attained basic education (primary and junior secondary/middle school). Beyond junior secondary, enrolment and attainment levels are not very encouraging.


 
At the senior secondary school level, Shama-Ahanta East has the highest attainment level (13.6%) followed by Jomoro (10.5%), while the lowest (6.2%) is in Wassa West. The regional average is 12.1 percent, far below the national average of about 17 per cent. Attainment at post secondary level and beyond is also still very low. In terms of literacy, apart from Shama-Ahanta East (29.3%) and Wassa West (37.4%), which recorded relatively low levels of illiteracy, all the districts have levels much higher than the regional average of 45.7 per cent. The highest illiteracy levels are in Juabeso-Bia (58.7%) and Aowin-Suaman (57.7%).


 
 
educational attainment
Educational Attainment


Education is the engine that drives much of economic development, so becoming educated is probably the most significant means for personal success. In a number of urban areas of the country, education starts as early as three years in the pre-school; however, school-going age for the 6-year primary education level is pegged at six years, even though many children start a year earlier at five, particularly among the urban middle class, or a year later at seven or more, particularly among the rural farming community. Primary education is of a six-year duration.


This is followed by a 3-year junior secondary school (JSS), after which the more academically inclined would continue through another 3 years of senior secondary school (SSS), and then to the university or polytechnic or other post-secondary institutions such as teacher and nursing training institutions. Those who do not make it to the SSS may proceed to commercial, technical or vocational Schools.


On the average, of a cohort of 100 Ghanaian children of school-going age, only 70 begin primary one, even though basic education is supposed to be free and compulsory. By the time these children reach junior secondary, only 50 of the original eligible 100 in the cohort remain, an indication that 30 per cent of children of school-going age do not even begin to have any education at all, while another 20 per cent of the original cohort do not go beyond primary school. By the end of junior secondary school, another 30 of the original 100 would have dropped out of the secondary school system, leaving only 20 who eventually make it to senior secondary school.


As has been stated earlier, the Western Region is potentially one of the richest regions of the country. Yet in terms of infrastructure and educational facilities, the region faces many difficulties. In this section we shall examine various aspects of education in the region, the challenges the region faces and make recommendations.


General


The Western Region has seen some improvement in over the last decade. For instance, in 1984, 28.0 per cent of persons in the region received some basic education (JSS/Middle); this figure increased to 34.0 per cent by 2000. Improved enrolment rates at the primary level since 1984 (87.0%) may account for the noticeable improvement in education attainment in the region (GSS, 1998).


For persons aged 6 years and older, 2.2 per cent had attained pre-school level, 37.8 per cent had attained primary school level, 40.9 per cent middle school/junior secondary school, 9.1 per cent with senior secondary school education, 4.1 per cent with vocational or technical education, 2.9 per cent with post secondary (teachers and nurses colleges, etc), and 3.1 with tertiary education. In all the districts, including the rural districts, over 70.0 per cent had attained basic education level (primary and middle/junior secondary).


The proportion of persons with only primary education is almost equal to those with up to middle/junior secondary education in all the districts. In Jomoro (40.1% primary and 36.3% middle/JSS) and Shama-Ahanta East (28.8% primary and 40.7% middle/JSS), the relatively low attainments at the basic level are compensated for by relatively high attainments at the senior secondary and tertiary level. Jomoro has 11.0 per cent attainment level for senior secondary school and 3.1 per cent attainment at the tertiary level, while Shama-Ahanta East has 13.4 per cent senior secondary attainment and 4.9 per cent tertiary attainment.


Shama-Ahanta East recorded the highest proportion (13.4%), which is understandable in view of its urban and social composition and the concentration of educational institutions and industrial establishments. Jomoro (11.0%), Nzema East (9.1%) Aowin-Suaman (7.3%) and Juabeso-Bia (6.9%) follow in that order. Such high proportions of persons with senior secondary school attainment in such relatively rural districts cannot be readily explained since these districts also have relatively few senior secondary schools, compared to the other districts. Since most of the senior secondary schools are boarding institutions, absence or presence of a school in a locality does not really make a difference to availability.


The factors that determine access to schools are the quality of the junior secondary school which determines the capacity of the pupils to pass the entrance examination, and affordability of the senior secondary school to the prospective student, as well as the quality of the senior secondary school into which admission is being sought. Granted that students from districts without secondary schools, or with relatively poor schools, tend to travel to the better-endowed districts to attend boarding schools, these students from such poor rural communities cannot be expected to remain in those communities if the job opportunities for such levels of education do not exist.


Although the level of attainment of vocational, technical and commercial education is very low in the entire region, Juabeso-Bia and Aowin-Suaman, in particular, lag behind the rest of the districts, with 2.0 and 1.9 per cent respectively of the population having attained this level of education. Vocational and technical education (VOTEC) is an area to which District Assemblies could devote much more resources as a way of checking rural-urban migration of the youth, as they are more likely to move in the absence of further education after basic education.


In all the districts, at the primary and junior secondary level, there is not much difference in of males and females. At the primary level, females seem to outnumber males in most districts. The trend however begins to change as one climbs up the educational ladder. At the tertiary level, however, there is a higher achievement level of females at the tertiary level in Mpohor-Wassa East (4.1%), which is below the male figure of 4.3 per cent. Jomoro and Shama-Ahanta East have high proportions of both males and females with senior secondary education. The case of Jomoro could be explained by the presence of large numbers of customs and security personnel at the borders, all of whom are expected to have at least a senior secondary school certificate before they can be recruited into these services.


Access to and performance in education
Availability of primary and junior secondary schools


There are 12,326 primary schools in the whole country. As at 1997/1998, the Western Region had 1,340 of these, made up of 1,258 public and 82 private schools. By year 1999/2000, this number had reduced to 1,320, made up of 1,240 public and 80 private schools, as a result of the closure of some non-viable private and public schools. With an inter-censual population growth rate of 3.2 percent, the third highest in the country, one would have expected to see a corresponding increase in the number of schools. As at 1998/1999, the country had 6,020 junior secondary schools, of which the Western Region had 655 (10.9%), made up of 622 public and 33 private schools. By year 2000 the number of JSSs in the region had risen to 694.


School enrolment at the regional level, 1996/1997 to 1999/2000


In the Ghana Education Service, from where the figures were obtained, enrolment and school attendance appear to be used interchangeably. The figures may therefore be regarded as those who were actually attending school at the time the headcount in the various schools was taken and the returns sent to the Regional Office of the Ghana Education Service. Considering the fact that for 1998 and 1999 the region presented 3,568 and 3,544 candidates respectively for the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination, which should be about a third of the total attendance for those two years (SSS is a three-year programme), one may be inclined to regard the Ministry’s figures to be a more plausible reflection of the true situation. Even if it is assumed that the Ministry’s figures are for public schools only, which is not the case anyway, these huge differences cannot be accounted for by enrolment or attendance at private schools, since these are very few and have very low enrolments, especially at the post primary levels.


But there could be other reasons for the higher figures . For example, persons who were pursuing courses that are not normally recognized as secondary or basic school courses, or who were not even in school at all, may have indicated that they were at one level or the other of schooling, but does not reflect in official Ministry of Education statistics.


Whether this is the case or not, and whether such cases could introduce such significant differences in data, it is possible that this situation might be revealing the existence of a major demand for school places than what is actually available. The GSS and the Ministry therefore need to undertake some reconciliation of figures to ensure that any differences for school attendance, whether real or apparent, are rectified for use by policy makers and implementers, as well as researchers.


Technical and vocational education have not received the sort of attention that should be given to them in a region where there are mining and other industries that will require appropriate middle level manpower. This is however a reflection of what obtains at the national level, where there are only about 23 public vocational and technical institutions. With only about 20 per cent of those who complete junior secondary school moving on to the senior secondary school level, an expansion in technical and vocational education will be one of the best ways of absorbing those who do not move on to the senior secondary level, and preventing them from prematurely joining the job market with no marketable skills.


Current school attendance


The Ministry of Education data, the two sets of data, in percentage terms, tell virtually the same story. Whereas pre-school and primary school enrolments in all the districts are at high levels for both males and females, and in some cases with even higher female attendance than male, the situation changes from the junior secondary school level, and female enrolment in all the districts drop off drastically.


Shama-Ahanta East has 3.6 per cent enrolment at pre-school while in Aowin-Suaman and Jomoro, it is 2.9 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively. At the primary school level also, the rural districts have higher percentages of school attendance than the regional average. For example Wassa Amenfi (68.2%), Aowin-Suaman (68.3%) and Sefwi-Wiawso (67.0%), all have significantly higher attendance rates than the regional average (64.3%) and the fully urban Shama-Ahanta East (56.3%). The situation however drastically changes at the junior secondary level. Shama-Ahanta East (23.6%) and Wassa West (23.1%), the two most urbanized districts have levels of attendance at junior secondary above the regional average of 21.3 per cent.


Four of the more rural districts with very high primary school attendance, have junior secondary enrolments below the regional average. These are Aowin-Suaman (19.2%), Wassa Amenfi (20.1%) and Mpohor-Wassa East (20.3%). This implies that in the rural areas, children enroll significantly at pre-school and are able to sustain their attendance up to the end of the primary school, but then drop out after that. Many of them do not go beyond primary school. This may be due to several factors, including lack of junior secondary schools to complement the primary schools, long distances that children have to travel to attend junior secondary school or lack of teachers, all major disincentives for children to stay in school.


Performance at the basic education certificate examination


The Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) is terminal and determines achievement at the basic level. It is also used to select candidates for the post-basic level. It is therefore a good measure of how a region is performing, or its achievement level, at the basic level. Analysis of such results can also assist policy makers to determine whether basic schools are performing well or deteriorating, in order to institute measures to improve upon facilities in schools in the various districts. This section therefore assesses performance of the various districts at this examination in the Western Region since 1999.


Of the 22,229 candidates who sat for the BECE in 1999 in the region, only 624 obtained aggregate 6, constituting 2.8 per cent of all candidates. Of this number, 568 (91%) per cent were from schools in Shama-Ahanta East and Wassa West, where Sekondi-Takoradi, the Regional Capital, and Tarkwa, a gold and manganese mining town, are located. Tarkwa also hosts the Mining Engineering College of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Most of the good quality private and even public junior secondary schools in the region are located in these two districts. An additional 1,958 candidates (8.8%) obtained aggregate 7-15. These two categories of candidates are those who were likely to have made it into any reasonably good senior secondary school, from where they could eventually make it to the tertiary level, or would be equipped with the requisite educational tools for their future social advancement.


54.8 per cent of the region’s urban population of 668,836 live in Shama-Ahanta East and a further 11.6 per cent live in Wassa West, mostly Tarkwa, Prestea and Aboso. These two districts account for nearly two-thirds (66.4%) of the urban population, and make up 31.6 per cent of the total population. Yet the two districts produce over 90 per cent of those BECE candidates who are likely to make it to the next level of the education ladder. Juabeso-Bia, on the other hand, has the second largest population in the region (245,035, with 227,689 being rural) but has a very poor educational achievement record.


There is a gross rural-urban imbalance in educational opportunities in the region that need to be seriously addressed. Research findings have demonstrated that ability and intelligence are generally evenly distributed in any society, and achievement is the result of the opportunity to develop this ability. The key to improvement in educational standards at all levels in the country therefore lies in the quality of the basic education given to children. Things can be considerably improved with even modest improvements in pedagogy and basic facilities. This has been clearly demonstrated through a case study of the Ahanta West District (Addae- Mensah, 2000).


Senior secondary and tertiary education


At the senior secondary school level, candidates are not limited to attending schools located in the locality, district or region in which they live. All candidates nationwide are free to choose whatever school they wish to attend, and are admitted provided they meet the minimum entry requirement set by the school of their choice. In order to measure the quality of the senior secondary schools in the Western region, one needs to compare their enrolments as well as performance with schools in other regions, and the extent to which candidates from schools in the region are able to compete nationally and qualify to enter the tertiary and postsecondary institutions. Levels of enrolment are partly a reflection of the ability of the schools to attract adequate qualified candidates nationwide, and this is in turn a reflection of the quality of the school; hence the presentation of tables indicating senior secondary school attendances at the regional and national levels.


The Western Region has 42 senior secondary schools, or 8.3 per cent of the 504 senior secondary schools in the country. This puts the region in the 7th position, coming only better than the three northern regions in the number of senior secondary schools. The region in addition has 3 Teacher Training Colleges, 2 Technical/Vocational Schools, a Polytechnic, and the College of Mining and Mineral Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.


The 1999/2000 Ministry of Education data and the Ministry of Education data for 1996/1997, though not totally comparable because of different population bases, seems to suggest that the situation in the region has not improved much since 1996.


In terms of the population aged 15-19, which ought to be in senior secondary school, the region comes equal at the bottom with Brong Ahafo, with only 7 per cent of that population group being in secondary school in 1996/97. In terms of actual enrolment, the region again comes out equal third from the bottom with Brong Ahafo, accounting for only 6.6 per cent of the total national secondary school enrolment, better than only Upper West (3.4%) and Upper East (4.6%). In Ghana, as noted earlier, students normally travel from one region to another to attend secondary school, so enrolment in a particular region is not necessarily a reflection of enrolment of youth living permanently in that region. The fact that schools in the region record such low enrolment rates in relation to the population, however, may be a reflection of the quality of schools in the region, which do not therefore attract many students from other parts of the country.


The causes of the low enrolment rates in secondary schools in the region have been attributed to several factors. In addition to the region having very few quality schools, the situation has also been blamed on early dropout from school by the youth to engage in “galamsey” or illegal gold mining activities. Apart from the methods adopted in this illegal mining being a serious potential health hazard, the future of these young men, with no education and no long-term skills, is uncertain, because they soon become unemployable when their youthful strengths can no longer cope with the demands of “galamsey”.


One criterion that is used to measure the performance of secondary schools is the number of students who qualify for admission to a tertiary institution such as the University, by obtaining an aggregate score of 24 or better in six subjects including core English language and core mathematics. Obtaining this aggregate is however no guarantee that one will gain admission into a university, since the competition is so keen that for competitive courses such as administration, medicine, the sciences and engineering, an aggregate score of 12 or better is what is likely to get a student considered for admission in the first place.


The ability of students from senior secondary schools in the region to qualify for, and gain admission to, the country’s Universities is also not very encouraging. The 28 schools whose students qualified for consideration for admission to universities were from 8 of the 11 districts. Nine of the schools are located in Shama-Ahanta East and 4 in Wassa West. Nzema East and Ahanta West have 3 schools each.


Of the 13,000 students who were pursuing undergraduate studies at the University of Ghana in the 2001/2002 academic year, 9,435 were admitted directly from senior secondary schools. Of this number, the Western Region accounted for only 331 students, or about 3.5 per cent of the total, drawn from only 19 out of the 42 secondary schools located in 7 of the 11 districts.


Twenty-three (23) secondary schools in the region were not even represented at the University of Ghana. Even more significant is the fact that 282 or 85 per cent of the 331 students from schools in the region at Legon, were from only eight schools, with Archbishop Porter (16.9%), Fijai (19.0%), GSTS (12.4%) and St. Johns (9.4%) accounting for almost 60 per cent. Just one girls’ secondary school in another region has over 350 students in the University, more than the whole of the Western Region.


The situation in the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) is no different. The University of Ghana admitted 2,176 students in 1998/1999 and 3,186 in 1999/2000 from 338 educational institutions. For those two academic years, the Western Region schools accounted for only 84 students in 1999 and 97 in 2000. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, including its School of Mines at Tarkwa, admitted 1,210 students in 1998/1999 and 3,766 in 1999/2000 from 226 institutions, and only 65 in 1998/1999 and 164 in 1999/2000 came from schools in the Western Region.


In effect, only 20 of the 42 schools in seven districts in the region were able to contribute students to the two universities, with only 14 schools in seven districts contributing students to both universities each year. They contributed 3.8 per cent in 1999 and 3.0 per cent in 2000 of the total national intake to Legon, and 5.4 per cent in 1999 and 4.4 per cent in 2000 of the total national intake to KNUST. Eight schools, namely, Archbishop Porter, Fijai, GSTS, Nkroful, Nsein, Sekondi College, St. Johns and Tarkwa Secondary schools, produced the bulk of the students from the region to these universities. These 8 schools, between them, contributed 70 (83%) of the 84 students to Legon in 1999 and 78 (80%) of the 97 students in 2000. For the KNUST, the 8 schools provided 56 (86%) of the 65 students in 1999 and 149 (91%) of the 164 students in 2000.


The region has to take appropriate steps to ensure that education is given all the priority attention it deserves, to avoid being denied its fair share of the natural resources of the region. Investors who come to the region expect to find the requisite manpower to employ in the enterprises they establish. Traditional rulers, opinion leaders, the district assemblies and educational authorities in the region will have to coordinate their efforts to ensure that there is long-lasting, sustainable qualitative change in the educational fortunes of the region.


Literacy


Apart from Shama-Ahanta East (26.5%) and Wassa West (33.3%), which recorded relatively low levels of illiteracy, most of the districts have levels much higher than the regional average of 41.8 per cent. Literacy is an important indicator of social development and such high levels of illiteracy across the districts indicate under-development in most parts of the region. More than half of the districts (7 out of 11) in the region (Jomoro, Wassa Amenfi, Juabeso-Bia, Aowin-Suaman, Sefwi-Wiawso and Bibiani) have less than 20 per cent of persons above 15 years literate in the English language only, while all the districts have between 1.3 and 2.9 per cent of persons literate in only a Ghanaian language.


Literacy in English and a Ghanaian language is however widespread. More than one-quarter of all persons above 15 years throughout the districts are literate in both languages, with the highest being in Shama-Ahanta East (42.3%) and the lowest in Ahanta west (29.0%).


The high proportions of persons literate in only English in all the districts, particularly Shama-Ahanta East (29.0%), Wassa West (27.0%), and Mpohor-Wassa East (25.4%), gives cause for concern. These high percentages cannot be accounted for by the relatively low percentage (less than 1.0%) of foreigners in these districts. If it is indeed a manifestation of the fact that both parents and teachers are not giving the local languages the attention they deserve, both at home and at school, then there is an urgent need for a policy reappraisal.


contact us
The Regional Minister
Western Regional Coordinating Council
P. O. Box 304, Sekondi - Takoradi
Western Region
Ghana
W / Africa


Tel:  (+233 31) - 46141/46756/46012
Fax:  (+233 31) - 46988


 




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