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Dancing to the Algorithm

One of the government’s biggest pushes at the moment is public-private partnerships in the training of Ghanaian doctors. The Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, has called for alliances to help reduce the burden on the government to train doctors and improve the doctor-to-patient ratio. At the moment the ratio currently stands at one doctor to every 9,000 patients.

In early March 2016 a new Family Health Medical School was commissioned in Teshie, a suburb of Accra, the first private medical school in the country. At the opening, President Mahama said the establishment of a private medical school conformed with the government’s transformation agenda, saying that the establishment of medical training schools was capital intensive and called on all stakeholders to support government and the private sector to establish more such institutions.

One foreseen problem is the extent to which the state can supervise these institutions. The government has the mandate to provide such facilities, and it cannot satisfy the demand without the participation of the private sector. But at the same time, the government is still responsible for ensuring that these private institutions maintain standards.

Another model of private participation in the market are a pay-as-you-learn model of low-cost private schools, Omega Schools. The project is backed by Pearson’s Affordable Learning Fund, and acts as a social enterprise, targeting low-income families and communities. The program is also being supported by the UK Development for International Development.

The project is not large, and currently has around 39 schools, largely based in the Accra area. However, the program has been a useful model for increasing access to education. Two problems, however, are that the government is struggling to ensure the teachers being employed are qualified, and that class sizes are reportedly significantly larger than public schools, which marks a reverse of the traditional public-private classroom sizes seen in more developed economies.

The government still relies upon aid programs to reach the last stretches of school-less areas. USAID currently has 88 projects ongoing in Ghana, working in partnership with Ghana’s Education Development Object, to improve literacy levels in primary schools. Their target is to improve reading proficiency for over 2.8 million children by 2020.

Historically, USAID has been effective in supporting community programs, especially in recruiting volunteers to teach in short staffed rural schools. In 2013, USAID contributed to the overall increase in primary school education from 93% to 98%.

The World Bank also decided to invest $156 million in Ghana’s education system in May 2014. They lent the funds to the Republic of Ghana, to be implemented by the Ministry of Education. The funds will be spent on increasing access to senior secondary education in under served districts and improve the quality of teaching at low-performing senior high schools in Ghana.

As of December 15, 2015 the number of scholarships distributed to low-income students was 2,143, and by 2019 that figure is expected to be 10,000. The number of teachers participating in training was zero on October 1, 2014, but by mid December of the following year this figure was 331, ahead of the target for 2019, which was a cumulative total of 360.

At the university level, competition for places is fierce, especially in fields such as medicine, engineering, law, and pharmacy. In reports, it is often noted that the quality of education is high, but that is largely due to human rather than material resources. Many universities are working hard to attract international enrollment as a source of extra funds. The University of Ghana, for example, is committed to a 10% international population, and the United Nations University operates several programs on that campus in the fields of health and development.

Likewise, Ashesi University, which is a relatively new player in the field, being founded in 2002, has 21% international students. The university also has 55% of its students attending on scholarships, and 47% of students are women. This is ahead of the government target ratio of 60-40 male to female students.

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