Education and modernization in Ghana: Conflict and challenges, 1951-1990

Seth Osei-Agyemang, Fordham University


The primary intent of this study is to analyze the influence of modernization theory on policy development and implementation in education during the past 40 years in Ghana. The concern is to understand educational policies in Ghana--the myth, philosophy, goals and objectives, and the viability in the context of the social, political, and economic forces in which they are undertaken. The method called for an historical research whereby the causes (historical, economic, political, and social) and the consequences are systematically examined from primary and secondary sources. The findings suggested: (a) In the process of modernization Ghana's educational policies have been greatly influenced by Western modernization ideologies, (b) economic growth did not follow the revolutionary beginnings of mass education, (c) the obsession with manpower planning and projections had several unanticipated consequences in the form of rural-urban migration, educated unemployed, and brain drain, and (d) the drive for equality in access to primary schools brought about regional and sexual inequalities. The study ended with the following conclusions: (a) Ghanaian educational practices followed Western modernization theoretical assumptions, (b) economic difficulties in the 1970s put many constraints on the educational system which resulted in the deterioration of educational services, (c) the human capital theory which concentrated on skills development generated new aspirations and expectations which were disruptive of smooth development process, and (d) far from bringing about greater equality, the educational system has reinforced existing inequalities in educational opportunities between different social and income groups, between urban and rural areas, between the sexes, and between ethnic groups. In the effort to modernize, Ghana's educational policies did not take into account Ghana's peculiar colonial heritage, its unique sociocultural, political, and economic structure. The study therefore attempts to build up a New School Program that will link education with the community, education with work, and strengthen the Ghanaian cultural identity.

Subject Area

School administration

Recommended Citation

Osei-Agyemang, Seth, "Education and modernization in Ghana: Conflict and challenges, 1951-1990" (1995). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9530956.