Overseas Education – The Opening of New Horizons for Ghanaian Students

I distinctly remember a young boy from Accra who studied in the local school and his fascination to keep looking at the faraway mountains. He dreamt that one day he would cross those mountains and explore the world beyond. This is not just the story of a young man from Accra, but these dreams live in the eyes of almost all budding students of Ghana. Over the years, Ghana has developed infrastructure in the field of education. Free basic education has contributed to shaping young minds but there is still enormous scope of development in higher education.

A report from UNESCO says close to 13,000 students from Ghana have traveled outbound for higher education into countries like, the USA, UK and other countries in 2016. Among the factors contributing to the drive to study abroad is the opportunity for scholarships and work-study opportunities. Universities attract students by offering lucrative scholarships. From a few thousands to a 100% tuition fee waiver, student benefit either as an upfront bursar or on merit. Below are a few popular scholarships:

  1. Chevening Scholarship
  2. Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships
  3. Lord Paul Merit based Scholarship
  4. FORD Foundation International Fellowship Programme and many more.

Also, these universities are equipped with cutting edge technology and build intercultural competence . They have top rated faculty and provide research-based study modules that keep students completely engaged in the learning process. Learning takes a whole new dimension and knowledge application gets exciting.

This form of learning seems to pay off. Else, why would graduates from these institutions stride the corridors of the world’s prominent multinational companies? Notably, Mr. Suny Verghese, who is the owner of Olam Ghana Limited1i and Daniel Nii Kwei-Kumah Sackey, who is the Managing Director, Ecobank Ghana Ltd. The institutions offer possibilities for :

  • Communication and language skills;
  • Network building;
  • Collaborations with industry experts;
  • Analytical comparison of industry culture
  • World class laboratories and research facilities;
  • Better CVs

How can local institutions cope in this new trend of global higher education and also attract students from other countries?

In the last few years, Ghana has been improving education by providing a Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) that prepares students for further secondary and vocational studies. President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo promised, “There will be no admission fees, no library fees … no examination fees…. There will be free textbooks, free boarding and free meals”. These are essential for better pre-tertiary education, but a lot still remains to be done in the area of higher education.

  • Fewer higher education institutions: there are more than 81 institutions in Ghana providing access to higher education but only few are authorized for autonomous degree. These are Ashesi University, Central University, the Trinity Theological Seminary and Valley View University.
  • Technical education: whiles overseas universities are offering futuristic courses like, ‘Machine Learning’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI)’ and some Universities in the USA are utilizing AI in humanities subjects just a very few institutions in Ghana even teach these courses at post graduate level.
  • Laboratory infrastructure standards and limited practical learning – Infrastructure-wise, higher education universities in Ghana are not as equipped as top world rank universities which creates problems-gaining-practical exposure to theory. The potential of young college students is hindered when knowledge remains theoretical.

Inspite of these shortcomings, some local learners have managed to beat all odds and make their marks in industry. Students at the University of Mines and Technology (UMAT), Ghana, made a 3D printer from e-waste. One of the students, Abakah-Paintsil said: “We had a problem with packaging. Since we also like practical things we got fed up from always having to imagine things our lecturers have been saying and teaching.”iv

These challenges are compounded by inadequate funding from the Government . Despite increasing the education fund in 2019-20, only a small portion is used in the area of infrastructural development. Ghana spent almost 6% of its GDP on education in the year 2019 but majority of the fund are used on salary and perks. Effectively, only 13% of the education fund went into educational infrastructure.

Conclusion

The COVID19 pandemic has fueled the use of technology in innovative learning methods. Ghana could make use of this opportunity to upgrade the education sector in the area of learning technologies. Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon that can be use to change the world.” Times are changing and local institutions should step up the contribution to national development.

i https://www.olamgroup.com/about-olam/executive-committee/sunny-verghese.html

ii https://www.bloomberg.com/profile/person/19874539

iii https://www.prospects.ac.uk/universities/university-of-wolverhampton-4037

iv https://3dprint.com/159654/ghana-students-e-waste-3d-printer/

jha.braj

The author’s name is Braj Bhushan Jha, who has helped to guide thousands of young minds dreaming to study abroad and yearning for respectable livelihoods. He has more than twelve (12) years of experience in the overseas education sector. His experience of working in the education domain for over 12 years with various companies like Study Overseas Global, IDP, Times Group, University of Wolverhampton and with numerous overseas universities has made him a mentor and anchor for students from various South Asian countries. He is also a vivid blogger and runs YouTube video logs to guide students regarding admissions to top ranked Universities.

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