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Quality of education declining - ISSER Report

Sept. 28, 2016, 3:09 p.m.

The quality of education at all levels of the academic stream declined in 2015 “as a result of increased access not matched by increased funding,” a report published by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), has indicated.

Presenting an overview and outlook of “The State of the Ghanaian Economy Report, 2015”, at the launch of the report in Accra yesterday, the Director of ISSER, Prof. Felix Asante, said according to the Early Grade Reading Assessments (EGRA) and Early Grade Mathematics Assessments (EGMA) administered in 2013, after primary two, majority of the pupils sampled were unable to read.

“The EGMA showed that by the end of Primary Two, pupils were doing reasonably well on number identification and addition level one, but they were unable to answer most level one subtraction items correctly,” he said.

Prof. Asante also declared that in spite of increases in secondary school enrolments and an increase in secondary school teachers, students’ performance in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), especially in Mathematics and Science, had been on the decline since 2012 when it peaked.

He said although tertiary education financing over the years had been the joint responsibility of the government and students, “the over-reliance on the government for financing public tertiary education has taken its toll on the quality of infrastructure in most tertiary institutions.”

He stated that in spite of the burden on the government, it had been reluctant to pass on excessive costs of tertiary education to students in public tertiary institutions, adding that “the implication is that costs are controlled and such controls do not support quality.”

Effect of admission surge

He stated that the surge in admission rates had affected the quality of delivery since it had not been matched by corresponding increases in facilities, while inadequate infrastructure had resulted in student-staff ratio of as high as 51:1 and was still rising.

Low enrolment in science

Pro. Asante also said the enrolment in Science and Mathematics programmes was significantly lower due to low performance at the senior high school (SHS) level, citing the National Accreditation Board’s (NAB) figures of 34 per cent to 64 per cent for science-based to humanities-based programmes respectively in public universities at both diploma and undergraduate levels.

Stressing that science and technology were recognised globally by all governments as the solution to underdevelopment, the Director of ISSER said “if pupils are provided with the opportunity to study science in rich learning environments, this can boost their interest and confidence in the subject so that they become good problem solvers at an early age.”

Stating the need to strengthen the teaching and learning of literacy and numeracy at the basic level, Prof. Asante said Ghana’s income status would be boosted further if the universities and other tertiary institutions saw their mission as pushing for science,technology and mathematics education at all levels of the educational system.


Prof. Asante, however, said it was not all gloom in the education sector as there had been increased access at all levels as a result of both private and public participation.

He also stated that there had been a significant reduction in the number of untrained teachers at the primary level, while at the secondary level, Ghanaian students had done relatively well in the WASSCE as compared to students in the four other West African countries.

Prof. Asante, nonetheless, expressed worry that “a secondary education system where the top 20 per cent of schools graduate 70 per cent of the candidates for tertiary education is problematic.”

Reason for decline

Answering a question on the reason for the decline in the quality of education although teachers were being trained, a member of the report team and Dean of the College of Education and Leadership, Professor Jonathan Fletcher, said; “we have numbers versus quality. If you train one teacher very very well and resource him, the returns are enormous but if you train 10 of them and you don’t resource them, you are back to square one.”

He said teachers’ allowances had been stopped in order to increase access but the quality of the training was poor.

Prof. Fletcher explained that at the basic level private schools were doing better than the public schools because at the private schools the practice was the ability to pay, while parents did a lot of the work in their children’s education.