Should Ghana’s Parents Place a Higher Priority on Education?

Ghana’s parents should place a higher priority on their children’s education, says Afigya-Kwabre District Chairman of the Ghana National Association of Private Schools (GNAPS), Mr Ernest Apau. Apau, who spoke at the annual march held in celebration of the country’s private schools, said that families needed to prove that they were serious about a better future for their kids via education by cutting out “frivolous” expenditures and dedicating that money towards school expenses.

Apau specifically mentioned cutting down costs associates with funerals as one way in which those savings could be achieved. He added that it showed a worrying mismatch of priorities seeing families invested in displays demanded of them by society while at the same time showing reluctance to pay for things like supplies, uniforms or academic materials needed by their kids.

The theme for the celebration is “Improving participation of private school education in Ghana to meet national aspiration”.

Mr Apau, who is also the proprietor of the Afrancho Full Gospel International School, asked teachers to show total commitment and passion for the job to enhance academic performance of the schools. He said nothing could be more satisfying than for a teacher to see his or student make it to the top.

Apau also had some advice for student, saying that path to success lies in being respectful, dedicated, disciplined and totally committed to their studies. He called on the kids to look towards their teachers, parents and elders for advice and support, drawing from their experience and knowledge to drive their own studies.

During the course of his speech, Apau also mentioned what the Ghana Education Services could do to support the private education industry in the country. He believed that the GES could offer more financial and material help in the form of textbooks, supplies and aid in curriculum development.

If Apau’s views on the parental priorities in Ghana are true, they contrast sharply with those displayed by Chinese parents, where regular financial and physical sacrifice for children’s education is common. According to a recent report by The New York Times, poor families in China regularly take on substantial financial burdens in order to afford to keep their children in school as long as possible.

Some of this could be explained by the fact, that a child’s education is viewed in China as an investment in parental retirement. Highly-educated children are supposed to get well-paid jobs and then repay this investment by taking care of their parents in their old age.

Chinese families regularly uproot themselves and scrimp on everything from holidays, to presents and even retirement, all in the hope of paying their kids’ school tuition. This goal could sometimes seem unreachable when every year of student’s education costs anywhere from 6 to 15 months of labor for a typical rural family.