UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Ghana - People

Ghana is one of the most populous countries in Western Africa, second only to Nigeria. Since achieving political independence in 1957, its population nearly tripled in size, from about 6 million to nearly 18 million in 1996, and in the 1990s was expected to increase to 27 million by 2020. The US government estimated the total population at 26.3 million as of July 2015 estimate.

One of the most significant features of Ghana's population is its rate of growth. In 1921 the country had a population of just over 2 million, and by the first quarter of 1960 the population had reached 7.1 million; thus, it more than tripled in the short period of 40 years. Although data for the early part of the century are not reliable, the figures indicate that Ghana's population increased at an average annual rate of 2.8 per cent between 1921 and 1960.

Despite much progress, Ghana still faces significant development challenges, particularly in rural areas and in the north. 45% of the population live on less than $1 a day and 79% on less than $2 a day. The economic and social policies of Ghana have confirmed the government’s intent to work towards international development targets, but the country needs considerable support to invest in the social, economic and productive sectors for some years to come.

Although the Constitution prohibits slavery, religious servitude--Trokosi--exists on a limited scale. In June 1998, Parliament passed and the President signed legislation to ban the practice of Trokosi in comprehensive legislation to protect women and children's rights. Human rights activists believe that the goal of eradicating the Trokosi practice is attainable with the new law; however, the practice persists.

The population of Ghana is divided into dozens of ethnic groups, variously estimated to number between 50 and 100. Ethnic groups include: Akan 47.5%, Mole-Dagbon 16.6%, Ewe 13.9%, Ga-Dangme 7.4%, Gurma 5.7%, Guan 3.7%, Grusi 2.5%, Mande-Busanga 1.1%, other 1.6%. Languages Asante 14.8%, Ewe 12.7%, Fante 9.9%, Boron (Brong) 4.6%, Dagomba 4.3%, Dangme 4.3%, Dagarte (Dagaba) 3.7%, Akyem 3.4%, Ga 3.4%, Akuapem 2.9%, other (includes English (official)) 36.1%.

In the recent census of 2012 the estimated population of Ghana is 25,000 000 (females-51%, males 49), giving the country an overall population density of 78 persons per sq km (201 per sq mi). About 70 percent of the total population lives in the southern half of the country. The most numerous peoples are the coastal Fanti, andthe Ashanti, who live in central Ghana, both of whom belong to theAkan family. The Accra plains are inhabited by the Ga-Adangbe. Most of the inhabitants in the northern region belong to the Moshi-Dagomba or to the Gonja group.

Accra, capital and largest city of Ghana, southeastern Ghana, on the Gulf of Guinea. Accra is an important commercial, manufacturing, and communications center. It is the site of an international airport and a focus of the country's railroad system, including a link to nearby Tema, which since 1962 has served as the city's deepwater port. Industries include vehicle and appliance assembly, petroleum refining, and the manufacture of foodstuffs, textiles, metal and wood products, plastics, and pharmaceuticals.

A sprawling city, Accra presents a varied appearance, with buildings of modern, colonial, and traditional African architecture. Of note here are the 17th-century Christiansborg Castle, now the residence of the chief of state, and the National Museum (1957). Several research and technical institutes are located in Accra, and the University of Ghana (1948) is in the nearby town of Legon. The site of what is now Accra was occupied by villages of the Ga, the local people, when the Portuguese first visited here in the late 15th century. During the 17th century the Portuguese were forced to withdraw by the Dutch, who, along with the Danes and the English, founded rival trading posts, which became the settlements of Ussher Town, Christiansborg, and James Town, respectively.

In the 19th century Britain purchased Dutch and Danish rights in the area, and in 1876 Christiansborg was made the capital of the Gold Coast Colony. The three separate towns grew and gradually coalesced to form the city of Accra. Much of the modern city's layout was planned in the 1920s, and since then growth has been rapid. Accra remained the capital city, when in 1957 the Gold Coast Colony became the independent state of Ghana.

The most densely populated parts of the country are the coastal areas, the Ashanti region, and the two principal cities, Accra and Kumasi. Ghana's population is concentrated along the coast and in the principal cities of Accra and Kumasi. Most Ghanaians descended from migrating tribes that probably came down the Volta River valley at the beginning of the 13th century. Ethnically, Ghana is divided into small groups speaking more than 50 languages and dialects. Among the more important linguistic groups are the Akans, which include the Fantis along the coast and the Ashantis in the forest region north of the coast; the Guans, on the plains of the Volta River; the Ga- and Ewe-speaking peoples of the south and southeast; and the Moshi-Dagomba-speaking tribes of the northern and upper regions. English, the official and commercial language, is taught in all the schools.

In Ghana, the importance of education to economic growth and development has been recognized in the country‘s development process since independence; education is viewed as a principal route out of poverty. The Seven-Year Development Plan for Ghana for the period 1963/64-1969/70, in particular, identified human capital formation and hence education as a critical factor in the growth and development process.

In 1960, 21 percent of the population over ten years of age had been to school, and the proportion probably increased to over 30 per cent by mid- 1969. Male school enrollments and literacy rates were about twice those of females but fell to under one-and-ahalf times the female rates in the youngest age groups.

Primary and junior secondary school education is tuition-free and mandatory. The Government of Ghana's support for basic education is unequivocal. Article 39 of the constitution mandates the major tenets of the free, compulsory, universal basic education (FCUBE) initiative. Launched in 1996, it is one of the most ambitious pre-tertiary education programs in West Africa. Since the early 1980s, Government of Ghana expenditures on education have risen from 1.5% to nearly 3.5% of GDP. Since 1987, the share of basic education in total education spending has averaged around 67%. The units of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports (MOESS) responsible for education are: the Ghana Education Service (GES), which administers pre-university education; the National Council on Tertiary Education; the National Accreditation Board; and the National Board for Professional and Technician Examinations (NABPTEX). The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), a consortium of five Anglophone West African Countries (Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Liberia) is responsible for developing, administering, and grading school-leaving examinations at the secondary level.

Since 1986, pre-tertiary education in Ghana includes 6 years of primary education, 3 years at the junior secondary school level, and 3 years at the senior secondary school level. A new educational reform, beginning September 1, 2007, introduced 2 years of kindergarten education beginning at age 4 and increased the 3 years senior secondary to 4 years. In early 2009, the government reverted senior secondary school back to 3 years. Successful completion of senior secondary school leads to admission eligibility at training colleges, polytechnics, and universities. In 2006 there were approximately 5.1 million students attending schools at these three levels: 68% at the primary level, 23% at the junior secondary level, and 10% at the senior secondary level.

There were over 600 public senior secondary schools in Ghana that graduated a total of 90,000 students in 2004, representing a huge expansion over the old system (which was transformed in 1987), which consisted of 300 institutions graduating 27,000 students a year. However, access to each successive level of education remains severely limited by lack of facilities. About 99.1% of junior secondary school graduates are able to gain admission to senior secondary schools, and only about 34.4% of senior secondary school graduates are able to gain admission to universities and polytechnics, plus another 10%-20% to diploma-level postsecondary education. Private secondary schools play a very small role in Ghana, with only a handful of institutions offering international curricula such as the British-based A-levels, International Baccalaureate, and U.S. high school. Combined, they graduate fewer than 200 students a year.

Entrance to one of the five Ghanaian public universities is by examination following completion of senior secondary school. There are now five public and 12 private degree-granting universities in Ghana, along with 10 public polytechnics offering the British Higher National Diploma (HND), a 3-year tertiary system in applied fields of study. Ghana's first private Catholic university opened in 2003 in Sunyani. The polytechnics also offer vocational, non-tertiary diploma programs. In addition, there are approximately 40 teacher-training colleges and 15 nurses' training colleges. Private tertiary education is a recent but rapid development in Ghana, meticulously regulated by the National Accreditation Board. Over 84,078 undergraduates are now enrolled in secular degree-granting programs in 17 public and private universities, 29,047 students enrolled in polytechnics, and 26,025 trainees enrolled in teacher training colleges.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 15-03-2017 18:21:38 ZULU