Government and private schools in the inner city of Accra: exploring choice, experiences, and aspirations

Baah, Janet (2021) Government and private schools in the inner city of Accra: exploring choice, experiences, and aspirations. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Recent evidence from Ghana points to significant pro-low-fee private school bias among inner-city households due to perceived failings of government schools. This raises three important questions: What kind of households enrol their children in government and private schools? Are the rich more likely to access private schools than poorer households? Do low-fee private school children enjoy better schooling experiences and higher aspirations on average than their government school counterparts? By asking these questions, this thesis critically examines what determines inner-city households’ schooling access/choice. It also explores the differential schooling experiences and aspirations of children who enrol in government or private schools. It makes four important contributions to the existing literature. Firstly, this study is one of the few studies in Ghana that investigates the relative schooling choice, experiences, and aspirations of households accessing private or government schools. Secondly, unlike previous studies, this study focuses on children in transition from grade six to Junior High School (JHS) and from JHS three to Senior High School (SHS). Thirdly, it utilises several variables that are normally unobserved by researchers in this field in comparing government and private schools.

The study is based on a survey of 754 students and in-depth interviews with eight head teachers, 11 parents, a circuit supervisor, and a politician (assemblyman). Quantitative methods are used to examine associations between access, individual and household characteristics, experiences, and schooling aspiration. Qualitative methods are used to explain the quantitative results. The findings reveal that disadvantaged children, such as overaged children, are more likely to enrol in government schools, so government schools are the last resort for disadvantaged households. Government schools are also found to provide better teaching/learning experiences and overall schooling experiences than private schools. Overaged children and boys are more likely to have lower schooling experiences irrespective of the type of school they attend. Children from both government and private schools and all backgrounds expected social and economic returns from education in equal measure, although private school children are more likely to aspire to professional carriers. They are also aware of barriers to achieving their carrier aspirations, but they have strategies in place that could help them achieve their career goals. The study argues that the achievement of SDG 4 for every child depends on the improvements in children’s schooling access and experiences, especially, among disadvantaged children. If we only focus on enrolments, inputs, and effectiveness which are easily measurable, then we are largely devaluing key school process and experience variables. This limitation must be acknowledged because access without positive schooling experiences will not make educational rights a reality for marginalised children. While school experience and process variables might be difficult to capture and measure, they are particularly important and serve as means by which disadvantage can be spotted and dealt with.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG401 Africa > LG480 West Africa > LG497 Ghana
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2021 12:01
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 12:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/101448

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