Ghana - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data

Last published date: 2022-03-25

Capital:  Accra

Population:  32.37 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $164.84 billion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Cedis (GHC)

Language:  English (official), Asante 16%, Ewe 14%, Fante 11.6%, Boron (Brong) 4.9%, Dagomba 4.4%, Dangme 4.2%, Dagarte (Dagaba) 3.9%, Kokomba 3.5%, Akyem 3.2%, Ga 3.1%, other 31.2% (2010 est.)


UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Ghana has 17,212 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.


CIA World Factbook

56.08% of the population in Ghana is under 25 years of age.



The Education System:  Ghana has been a pioneer in modern mass education in West Africa.  First introduced in Christian missionary schools and colonial government schools, most notably in coastal areas during the period of formal British rule after 1867, modern European-style education was greatly expanded by Ghana’s government after achieving independence in 1957.  The introduction of free and compulsory basic education in 1961 was a veritable milestone achievement that greatly helped advance access to education, as was the founding of the first Ghanaian universities: the University of Ghana, originally established under British rule in 1948, and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), opened in 1952.  Between 1960 and 1967 alone, the number of children enrolled in public elementary schools more than doubled (Basic education in Ghana).  Estimated at less than 20 percent at the time of independence, Ghana’s adult literacy rate shot up to 58 percent by the year 2000  (Adult literacy - Spanish). 

Administration of the Education System:  Ghana is a unitary republic with 10 administrative regions.  Some 70 percent of the population lives in the more industrialized southern parts of the country, home to the country’s two largest urbanizations: Kumasi (1.5 million people) and the capital city of Accra (1.7 million people).

Education is centrally administered by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Accra, which oversees several different agencies, including the Ghana Education Service (GES), responsible for the school system and pre-tertiary technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) in charge of higher education.  The Ministry of Education and its agencies’ guidelines are implemented locally by government offices in Ghana’s regions, as well as by districts offices.



Basic Education:  Ghana’s school system is modeled after the British system but has undergone a number of changes over the past 60 years.  Before 1974, for instance, the system was structured into six years of elementary education and four years of secondary education.  The select few students who went on to higher education then had to complete a two-year, UK-based advanced level (A-level) university-preparatory curriculum before enrolling in three-year undergraduate programs (6+4+2+3).  At present, the system is divided into six years of elementary education and three years of junior secondary education (jointly referred to as basic education), followed by three of senior secondary education and standard four-year university programs (6+3+3+4).  Basic education until grade nine is compulsory for all Ghanaian children, but senior secondary education is not.

Elementary education in Ghana begins at the age of six and is nominally free of charge at public schools.  However, even public schools charge fees for various items like teaching materials or uniforms, so that education is not entirely free.  In fact, according to some estimates, fees at public elementary schools are only 21 percent lower than at private schools – a circumstance that has facilitated the spread of private schools, particularly in rural areas where governmental provision is lacking. The percentage of children enrolled in private elementary schools increased from 13 percent in 1999 to 28 percent in 2018 (per UIS data).

The elementary school curriculum focuses on developing basic reading and writing abilities, arithmetic, and problem-solving skills.  The subjects taught include English, local languages in early grades, mathematics, social studies, integrated science, arts, physical education, and civics. Elementary education concludes with the completion of grade six.

Junior secondary education is open to all students who complete elementary education – there are no entrance examinations.  It lasts three years (grades seven to nine or forms I to III) and concludes with the Basic Education Certificate Exam (BECE).  Conducted by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in June each year for ninth graders who have been approved by the Ghana Education Service to sit for it, the BECE subjects include English, Ghanaian language and culture, social studies, integrated science, mathematics, design and technology, religion and civics, information technology, as well as French as an optional subject. 

In 2017, 468,053 students in Ghana sat for the BECE – a sizeable increase over the 422,946 in 2014.  The final grade average of the Basic Education Certificate is based 70 percent on test performance, whereas continuous school assessment accounts for 30 percent of the final grade.  WAEC uses a nine-point numerical grading scale, with 1 being the highest and 9 the lowest possible grade. There’s no hard failing grade – the grading system is flexible, with 9 simply being interpreted as the “lowest grade”.  However, the exams are nevertheless highly important since the BECE grade average determines the eligibility for admission into senior secondary school.

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC):  After independence, the countries of British West Africa successively transitioned from using a U.K.-based school curriculum to the examinations format of the regional WAEC.  Originally established in the 1950s as a means to “harmonize and standardize pre-university assessment procedures in British West Africa”, the Council is now an international organization with five member states: Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, the Gambia, as well as Liberia, the only non-British colony to join the council (in 1974).  Headquartered in Accra, the WAEC conducts examinations and issues certificates that serve as school completion certificates and the main university entrance criterion in the different member states.  While the WAEC offers the international West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in all member states, other WAEC exams are tailored to specific national needs and only given in particular member states.  In Ghana, for example, the WAEC administers the Basic Education Certificate Exam at the end of grade nine at the national level.

The Ghanaian WAEC examination, like those in Nigeria and other West African countries, is unfortunately characterized by a relatively high incidence of examinations fraud and cheating, such as the use of cell phones during the exams and the leaking of examination questions.  In 2017, for instance, 13,793 takers of the senior secondary exams, or almost 5 percent of all 287,353 test takers, were implicated in some form of exam malpractice.  Since 2013, the WAEC has used biometric fingerprint identification to prevent impostors from sitting for exams and has created an elaborate scratch card system for the verification of exam results.  The use of closed-circuit television cameras in test centers in Ghana is planned as well (

Senior Secondary Education:  The vast majority of graduates from basic education who wish to continue their education get assigned to senior secondary schools based on a “computerized school selection placement system”.  Admission is competitive and only good students have the option to choose the school they wish to attend.  Senior Secondary Education is free.

The eight-grade scale used to grade the exams is as follows:  Forty percent is the minimum passing percentage in each subject; top grades are very difficult to achieve – in 2018, more than 62 percent of 315,621 test takers failed to score C6 or above in at least three core subjects – the minimum standard for admission into university.  Grades awarded tend to be highest in social studies and lowest in mathematics.  In 2017, 73% of Ghanaian candidates scored within the top five grades (A1 to C6), but only 38 percent scored within that range in mathematics (  Cheating also continues to be a problem. In 2018, the examination results of 26,434 students were withheld due to examination malpractice.

WASSCE Grading Scale

Admission to Higher Education:  While university admissions criteria in Ghana may vary somewhat by institution, the baseline admissions requirements for all providers are set by the National Accreditation Board.  All candidates must have a minimum grade of 6 in at least three WASSCE core subjects, as well as in three elective WASSCE subjects.  Given the surging demand for higher education in Ghana, admission is highly competitive, especially at top public universities.  Some institutions may require that applicants have completed elective courses related to their intended major and may have additional entrance examinations – a practice that is also common for mature students opting for higher education at a later age.  Admission requirements at polytechnics and private higher education institutions (HEIs) tend to be lower than at public universities.  In fact, there have been repeated claims that private universities are admitting unqualified students – Ghana’s National Accreditation Board in 2011 alleged that private universities had admitted hundreds, if not thousands, of students that did not meet the mandatory minimum requirements and threatened to bar these students from graduating ( In 2018, the Ghanaian Ministry of Education made similar complaints.

Higher Education:  Ghana’s higher education sector has mushroomed in recent years.  Tertiary enrollments doubled between 2009 and 2015 alone, jumping from 203,337 students to 417,534 students within just six years (UIS data).  Like in other African countries, this expansion has been accompanied by a rapid growth of the private sector – the number of private HEIs increased from just two private universities in 1999 to eighty private universities and colleges today ( and  In general, the surging demand for education makes it increasingly difficult for the Ghanaian system to effectively provide mass education while maintaining quality standards.  A shortage of qualified instructors, for instance, has caused teacher-to-student ratios in popular disciplines like business to soar to 161 to 1 as of 2017.

The Higher Education Degree Structure:  Ghana has a binary qualifications structure that includes applied Higher National Diploma programs offered mostly by polytechnics (technical universities), as well as bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees offered by universities.  According to statistics provided by the National Accreditation Board, the vast majority – 70.5 percent – of students at public HEIs were enrolled in bachelor’s programs, whereas 22.4 percent studied for post-graduate diplomas, the latter overwhelmingly as distance education students.  Enrollments in graduate programs were comparatively small – only 6.3 percent and 0.5 percent were enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs, respectively, in the 2015/16 academic year.  The introduction of free senior secondary education was expected to help boost the number of students entering higher education programs from 90,000 in 2018 to 145,000 in 2020.

Ghana’s Tertiary Grading Scale and Credit System:  Grading scales used by Ghanaian HEIs were traditionally patterned after the British classifications scheme, but almost all universities now use variations of U.S.-style 0-100 and A to F grading scales.

Universities usually use a course numbering system that labels undergraduate courses as 100, 200, 300, and 400-level courses, depending on the year of study (first year, second year, and so on). Akin to the U.S. credit system, one full-time academic year usually represents 30 to 36 credit units.

Bachelor’s Degree:  Bachelor’s degrees in standard academic disciplines are four years in length (12+4), whereas bachelor’s programs in professional fields, like architecture, medicine, or dentistry, are five or six years in length after the WASSCE.  Curricula are specialized with few, if any, general education requirements.  Programs commonly include a final project, thesis, “long essay”, or “special paper” in the final year.  Typical credential names include the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Science, and so on.

Postgraduate Diploma (PGD):  Postgraduate diplomas are one-year programs after the bachelor’s degree designed for further specialization in professionally oriented disciplines.  PGDs are primarily intended to give access to employment rather than further study.

Master’s Degree:  Admission into master’s programs is based on a bachelor’s degree with sufficiently high grades in a related field.  Programs are between one and two years in length; thesis and non-thesis options do exist, with the latter typically requiring more coursework.  Common credential names include the Master of Arts and Master of Science.  The Master of Philosophy is a special degree typically earned after completion of a rigorous two-year, research-oriented program.

Doctor of Philosophy:  A terminal research degree, the Doctor of Philosophy is Ghana’s highest academic qualification.  While the occasional structured program does exist, doctoral degrees are usually earned by research and defense of a dissertation without further coursework.  Admission is based on a relevant master’s degree and academic potential.

Medical Education:  Ghana’s medical system has evolved significantly in recent years – whereas critical medical care was still routinely provided by visiting European medical doctors just a few decades ago, Ghana has now built up a more effective domestic health care system, even though the emigration of trained physicians remains high and severe shortages of physicians persist, particularly outside of metropolitan areas ( and

Medical training takes six years after the WASSCE and concludes with the awarding of the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB).  The most common curriculum offered by Ghanaian universities is divided into two phases: In the first phase, students complete one year of pre-medical sciences and two years of basic medical and paraclinical studies before they are awarded a bachelor’s degree in medical sciences en passant. The second phase comprises three years of clinical studies.  Admission is extremely competitive, with only the most qualified students gaining admission.

In addition, there is a graduate entry medical program (GEMP –, which is a four-year integrated program for holders of previous bachelor’s degrees in fields like pharmacy, nursing, or natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, etc). Graduates of both types of programs must complete a mandatory two-year internship (“housemanship”) before being able to register as physicians with the Ghana Medical and Dental Council.  Graduate medical education is provided by the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and usually involves another two to four years of clinical studies, depending on the specialty (

Teacher Education:  Until recently, it was possible to teach at the elementary and junior secondary level (basic education) in Ghana on the basis of a three-year Diploma in Basic Education (DBE –  However, the government is currently implementing major reforms in teacher education and has mandated that all teachers must have a four-year bachelor’s degree in an effort to raise teaching standards.  In 2018, Ghana’s President, Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, announced that all colleges of education, the main providers of DBE programs, “will be upgraded to University Colleges and will offer a four-year Bachelor of Education degree starting in the 2018-19 academic year” (  Teachers are also now required to obtain a formal license from the Ministry of Education (MOE) and complete one-year of assessed, in-service teaching training before being granted a teaching permit (

WES Documentation Requirements:

Secondary Education

  • Final Examination Results (for example BECE, WASSCE) – sent directly by the WAEC
  • WAEC Scratch Card or Electronic PIN Code – submitted by applicant (for more information, see the WES website)

Higher Education

  • Photocopy of degree certificate – submitted by the applicant
  • Academic Transcript – sent directly by the institution attended
  • For completed doctoral programs, an official letter confirming the conferral of the degree – sent directly by the institution


According to the 2021 IIE Open Doors Report, Ghanian students in the U.S. numbered 1,064 undergraduate, 2,309 graduate, 131 non-degree, and 725 OPT.

Top Areas of Study for Ghanaian Students:

Major Field of Specialization


Business and Management




Fine and Applied Arts  


Health Professions




Math/Computer Science


Physical and Life Sciences


Other Fields of Study



Ghana is now the number two country for sending students from the sub-Saharan African region to the United States.  Ghana is among the top 25 countries that sends graduate students abroad for further education.  The free senior high school policy currently deployed in Ghana has created an opportunity for increased undergraduate interest in getting educated outside of Ghana.

Ghanaian students study at colleges and universities across all 50 states in the U.S. and share their success stories with contacts in Ghana, which increases Ghanaian students’ interest to study abroad.  According to the 2019/20 IIE Data there was a 62. 9 % decrease in the number of U.S. students who studied abroad in Ghana. However, in the 2017/18 IIE Data, Ghana experienced an 18.5% increase in the number of U.S. students who studied abroad in Ghana and maintained its spot as the number two preferred destination in Sub-Saharan Africa, which opened opportunities for exchange programs between Ghana and the U.S.


Most students in Ghana use social media platforms.  Social media has gained a lot of interest in the young population of the country and has become the go-to tool for all sorts of information.  The most popular social media sites for students in Ghana are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, We Chat, and Snapchat.   Platforms used to search for job opportunities include (, (, ( and (

To conduct research, students in Ghana mostly use the Google search engine.  To stream videos, Ghanaian students use YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

Education institutions from the U.S. and other countries use LinkedIn, Facebook, email, Google Meet, WhatsApp, Zoom, and webinars to reach students in Ghana.  Students and parents in Ghana receive information on educational opportunities via student seminars, EducationUSA counseling, and education fairs.  It is recommended that U.S. study state consortia and education institutions focus on digital education and accessibility for Ghanaian students.




Rita Adubra Asante, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service – Accra, Ghana

Phone:  +233302741715