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Developing a just society based on equity and equal opportunities for all with respect for diversity.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Inequality in Educational System across the globe, comparing State-owned and Private schools.


By Ahmed Abdul-Rahim


As the RAINS team have been visiting public and private schools that are part of our S4S project this week. It’s got me thinking about the inequalities between the education system in northern Ghana and back in the UK, with a global perspective.

Laurenda Int'nal donates to Yumber Special School through S4S
The area that I live in Tamale is called Sagnarigu; the majority of my neighbours are teachers and the area is populated with many schools both public and private. This fact led me to ask some of the teachers’ opinions in the local area on what they thought about the education system. One of the local teachers called Abass owns his own private school and also works in a public school so he was the perfect person to give a comparison between the two.

Education is a primary concern to almost all Ghanaian parents and which kind of school they send their children to for their primary education. The majority of parents opt for the public school option and thus gain a lower standard of primary education for their students in comparison with the private sector. The teacher to student ratio in a public school is on average 1-80 with very limited resources whereas a private school will on average have 1-40 with many resources. This means the foundation of learning for students is better built up in private as they have the ability to use physical materials that aid the learning of the students, in comparison with public schools at the primary level where they are taught an abstract way of learning, leaving those who learn in a different way behind.
Abass continued to tell me about the teaching dynamics that he saw in the schools, with the lack of supervision in public schools meaning that the teachers can only focus their attention on the most gifted students in the class, thus allowing them to excel whilst others are left behind and fail to graduate to the next stage of education.
Abe Haprin School donates furniture to Dohi L/A School

The teachers who work in public schools are perceived to have greater job security than those in private, though the pay in the public is much lower than the private sector. Many public school teachers work other jobs including teaching in private schools as a result of the relatively low income they attain. Abass told me that some of the private schools that are based in Tamale are driven by profit and as such hire teachers with little experience, so conditions are not ideal for staff or students.

The UK system has some similarities. Recent statistics have shown that 1 in 20 children who attend private schools goes on to attend either Oxford or Cambridge universities, the top two in the UK, and the majority of others attend other Russell Group universities. This is in comparison to state school students, where only 1 in 100 achieves the same. This alone shows how substantially more eligible private school students are to attend the best universities and thus attain a higher level of education and better job prospects. However, it is clear that this is discriminatory against all the students in the UK whose parents cannot afford to send them to a private school.
The education in the UK means that those who can afford to send their children to private schools get the almost certain knowledge that their child will go to university, whereas those who cannot afford private school fees will have to send their children through the state school system that has a much lower certainty of sending them to university.

So we have seen that educational inequalities exist across the globe. In Ghana, the RAINS project aims to tackle local educational needs by partnering up private and public schools so that the private schools can donate clothes, shoes, books and other school equipment to aid the learning of those in their twinned public schools. This week our team visited three out of the six pairs of schools taking part in our S4S programme – Dohi L/A, Yumba Special School and Guno M/A. Each day we collected a teacher and two students from the donor school and took them to the beneficiary school to present donations and interact with students and teachers whilst we conducted evaluation questionnaires on beneficiary schools’ inclusion in the scheme. This will help the scheme improve and strengthen the bond between the schools, so that eventually the responsibility for their partnership can be passed over into their hands.

We can’t tackle every inequality, but through supporting productive partnerships here in northern Ghana we can ensure that more children get the chance to attain the education they deserve.