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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 July, 2003, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Ghana's girls grab success

By Vera Kwakofi
BBC Africa Live!

In 1987, only one in 11 children at secondary school in Ghana was a girl - a figure that finally encouraged the country's government to do something about the educational gender imbalance endemic to many African countries.

Ghanaian students study a lamp
There are now many more girls in science and maths in Ghana
That year saw the inauguration of a new kind of "summer school" - the Science and Maths Education Clinic. One hundred and 10 female students enrolled in the first year.

Last year, the number of girls who participated in the clinics countrywide was 6,184.

And in the new millennium the ratio is down to one girl to three boys taking science and maths at secondary level.

New teaching

In the early years, girls were picked from secondary schools based on their performance, teacher recommendations and their commitment to a science-based career.

Educating or sending girls to school may be considered a lost investment by some
Wilson Emaanzi, Canada

But in 1990, this was widened to include primary school girls who had yet to settle on a final choice of subjects to counter a tendency of some girls to change courses midway through their education because of the length of time it took to qualify for some jobs, such as doctoring.

Other changes included new teaching methods and the provision of facilities to make teaching and learning science attractive.

Girls were allowed to learn without facing fierce competition from boys.

And the mode of instruction included hands-on activity, good illustrative materials, interaction with female role models, and excursions to places of scientific interest.

Evidence of success

Since 1987 Ghana's female students have excelled.

The retention rate for girls in science from primary to university has risen considerably and performance is higher.

Most university campuses in Ghana now have a science clinic alumni network who support each other, and these girls are also supported to pursue courses otherwise considered unorthodox for women.

Girl puts together a computer
The studies now involve new technology
Meanwhile the 2000 convocation at the University of Ghana saw the three top prizes in medicine go to women - all of whom were coincidentally alumni of the science clinics.

In 1997, out of 52 graduate doctors at the Ghana Medical School, 15 were women - and they took 16 of the 21 academic prizes up for grabs.

Since its inception, the Ghana Education Service has funded all the science clinics for girls with the help of local sponsorship.

And for the past six years with the decentralisation of the programme, local districts have been sponsoring girls too.

Indeed, the project has been so successful that now some fear boys are being alienated - and so for the first time high performing boys who can have access to sponsorships will be allowed to take part in the clinics.




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