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Friday, April 17, 2015

Why are we working in northern Ghana?

By Abdul Hasib Sulemana

It's week three for the RAINS team, and our efforts to organise visits to communities this week has got us thinking about why development work is particularly important in the north of Ghana.

Education in Northern Ghana
The earliest history of formal, western-style education in Ghana is directly associated with the history of European activities on the Gold Coast. During colonial times, (1400s to 1957) Southern Ghana – the Gold Coast – experienced significant development because valuable natural resources were there.  But the north was left behind; the schools, roads, hospitals and government structures that grew in the south did not reach northern Ghana.

Western education in the southern part of Ghana is about a hundred years older than the northern part of Ghana. Although western education in the north began with the Catholic White fathers’ school opened in Navrongo in 1888, its formal and broad inception was in 1909. This early educational initiative was at the threshold of the total colonisation of what later became the northern territories of the Gold Coast colony.
The first government school in the Northern Territories was opened in Tamale in 1909 through the activities of one Amadu Samba, who organised a Boys' Brigade which was later transformed into a school. Two trade schools were established at Yendi and Wa in 1922 and 1924 respectively, and other schools were later opened in other towns.

Two of the northern scholars are Alhaji Yakubu Tali (Tolon-Naa) and later Alhassan Gbanzaba, who became the first university graduate from northern Ghana. The first secondary school in Ghana is Tamale Secondary School established in 1952.  .

Addressing the educational problems in northern Ghana
Education remains one of the most promising ways for many children to attain a fuller, more productive life. It is about a hundred and six years old in northern Ghana but still faced with numerous challenges especially in rural communities. Many communities in the northern part of Ghana do not have improved access to education, therefore the quality of education has remained low compared to the southern areas.
There have been, and continue to be challenges facing the educational system in Ghana as a whole, which have unique effects in the context of northern Ghana. Statistics show that school enrolments rates are lower in the northern part of Ghana than in most other areas.

One of these problems is that most school going children lack  school uniforms, shoes and bags as a result of these many children especially those in rural communities do not attend schools and continue to join the bandwagon of Kayaayo/Kayaayei (market carrier) girls in Accra and Kumasi. There are generally higher rates of poverty in the north of Ghana for various reasons including the harsh climate and lack of tourism, which negatively impact on education provision.

Governments and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have made efforts to address these problems. As part of addressing these challenges, the Regional Advisory Information and Network Systems (RAINS) and International Service initiated two projects known as Students for Schooling and the Childhood Regained project.
RAINS’ Childhood Regained Project (CRP) focuses on reducing child labour and exploitation, as there are many children in rural communities in northern Ghana who are engaged in hazardous labour or at risk of urban migration in search for livelihood supplement to family income. CRP strategy therefore is to empower local community structures in order to effect positive change that will enrich the lives of beneficiaries and communities. The project serves Naryoku and Daboya no. 2 in the West Mamprusi District and Nanton–Kurugu and Zokuga in the Savelugu-Nanton Municipality.
These projects are indicative of a reality that shows much more needs to be done in terms of educational provision, support and outcomes in the rural communities in the northern Ghana.