Structure of Formal Education

The Ghanaian education system is divided in three parts: "Basic Education", secondary cycle and tertiary Education. "Basic Education" lasts 11 years(Age 4-15), is free and compulsory. It is divided into Kindergarten(2 years), primary school(2 modules of 3 years) and Junior High school(3 years). The junior high school(JHS) ends on the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).] Once the BECE achieved, the pupil can pursue into secondary cycle. Secondary cycle can be either general (assumed by Senior High School) or vocational(assumed by technical Senior High School, Technical and vocational Institutes and a massive private and informal offer). Senior High school lasts three years and ends on the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). Other secondary institutions leads to various certifications and diplomas. Tertiary education is basically divided into university (academic education) and Polytechnics(vocational education). The WASSCE is needed to join a university bachelor's degree program. A bachelor's degree lasts 4 years and can be followed by a 1 or 2 year Master. The student is then free to start a Phd, usually completed in 3 years. Polytechnics are opened to vocational students, from SHS or from TVI. A Polytechnic curriculum lasts 2 to 3 years. Ghana also possesses numerous colleges of education. New tertiary education graduates have to serve one year within the National Service Scheme. The Ghanaian education system from Kindergarten up to an undergraduate degree level takes 20 years.
The academic year usually goes from August to May inclusive. The school year lasts 40 weeks in Primary school and SHS, and 45 weeks in JHS.

Basic Education
Basic Education lasts 11 years. The curriculum is free and compulsory (Age 4-15) and is defined as "the minimum period of schooling needed to ensure that children acquire basic literacy, numeracy and problem solving skills as well as skills for creativity and healthy living". It is divided into Kindergarten, Primary school and Junior High School (JHS), which ends on the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).

Kindergarten lasts 2 years (Age 4-6). The program is divided in 6 core areas: Language and Literacy (Language Development), Creative Activities (Drawing and Writing), Mathematics (Number Work), Environmental Studies, Movement and Drama (Music and Dance), and Physical Development (Physical Education)

Primary school lasts 6 years (Age 6-11). The courses taught at the primary or basic school level include English, Ghanaian languages and Ghanaian culture, ICT, mathematics, environmental studies, social studies, Mandarin and French as an OIF associated-member; integrated or general science, pre-vocational skills and pre-technical skills, religious and moral education, and physical activities such as Ghanaian music and dance, and physical education. There is no certificate of completion at the end of primary school.

Junior Secondary School lasts 3 years(Age 12-15). The Junior High School ends on the Basic Education Certificate(BECE), which covers the following subjects:English Language, Ghanaian Language and Culture, Social Studies, Integrated Science, Mathematics, Basic, Design and Technology, Information and Communication Technology, French (optional), Religious and Moral Education.

Secondary cycle
Students who pass the BECE can proceed into secondary education, general or vocational.
The secondary general education is assumed by the Senior High School(SHS). The SHS curriculum is composed of core subjects, completed by elective subjects(chosen by the students). The core subjects are English language, mathematics, integrated science (including science, ICT and environmental studies) and social studies (economics, geography, history and government). The students then choose 3 or 4 elective subjects from 5 available programmes: agriculture programme, general programme (divided in 2 options: arts or science), business programme, vocational programme and technical programme.

The Senior high school's curriculum lasts 3 years, as a result of numerous reforms: Originally a three years curriculum, it was extended to 4 years in 2007. However, early 2009 this reform was making SHS a 3 years curriculum again. The length of the SHS is still a disputed question.

The SHS ends on a final exam called the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), formerly called Senior Secondary School Certificate (SSSC) before 2007. A SHS ranking is established every year by the Statistics, Research, Information, Management and Public Relations (SRIMPR) division of the ministry of Education, based on the WASSCE results.

Vocational and technical Education (also called "TVET") takes different forms. After obtaining the BECE, students who wish to pursue in vocational Education have two main possibilities: Following the vocational and technical programs as elective courses in a SHS, or joining a technical and vocational institute(TVI). SHS students follow the usual SHS 3 year curriculum. They can then - provided sufficient results at the WASSCE - join a university or polytechnic program. TVI students usually follow a 4-year curriculum, divided in two cycles of two years, leading to "awards from City & Guilds, the Royal Society of Arts or the West African Examinations Council". They can then pursue into a polytechnic program. The state of vocational education sector remains however obscure in Ghana: 90% of the vocational education is still informal, taking the form of apprenticeship. The offer of formal vocational education within the private sector is also hard to define and the Ministry of Education recognizes its incapacity to give a clear overview of the public vocational education, many ministries having their own programs.

International schools also exists in Ghana: the Takoradi International School, Tema International School, Galaxy International School, The Roman Ridge School, Lincoln Community School, Faith Montessori School, American International School, Association International School, New Nation School, SOS Hermann Gmeiner International College and International Community School, which offer the International Baccalaureat, Advanced Level General Certificate of Education and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).

Tertiary education
Tertiary education in Ghana has been notably growing during the last twenty years, both in terms of enrollment and infrastructures. A substantial part of this development come from the private sector.

Universities(6 public and 49 private institutions) offer an academic education, from bachelor to Phd. Students are admitted based on their performance at the W.A.S.S.C.E (West African Senior School Certificate Examination"): A maximum of 24 points is generally required in order to apply to a Bachelor degree program(see Grading system in Ghana). A bachelor degree is usually completed after four years of majoring in a specific field of interest. Master degrees are of two sorts: A one year program, concluded with a final paper based on a literature study, or a two year program, concluded with a final paper based on one year of independent research. Both can lead to a Phd, usually achieved in 3 years within a doctoral programme.

Polytechnics (10 institutions) offer a vocational education. They propose 3-year curricula, leading to a Higher National Diploma(HND). The students have then the possibility to follow a special 18 month program to achieve a Bachelor of Technology degree.

Ghana also possesses many "colleges of education", public or private. They are usually specialized in one field (colleges of agriculture p.e) or in one work-training (Nursing training colleges, teacher training colleges, p.e).
New tertiary education graduates have to serve one year within the National Service. Participants can serve in one of the eight following sectors: Agriculture, Health, Education, Local Government, Rural Development, Military and Youth Programmes

Grading system
Ghana's grading system is different at every point in education. Through the kindergarten to the junior high, every grade a student gains is written in terms of numbers instead of alphabets. There is no system of pluses and minuses (no "1+"'s or "6+"'s as grades).

Senior high school
Until 2007, Senior secondary High school ended with the Senior Secondary School Certificate(SSSC). Its grading system went from A to E. In 2007, the SSSC was replaced by the West African Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). The WASSCE grading system adds numbers to the letters, offering a larger scale of evaluation. In both systems, each grade refers to a certain number of points. In order to join a Bachelor degree program, applicants are usually asked not to exceed 24 points at their WASSCE/SSSC.

Senior Secondary High School grading system SSSCE grades(before 2007), [in points] WASSCE grades(since 2007),[in points] Description
A[1] A1[1] Excellent
B[2] B2[2] Very good
C[3] B3[3] Good
D[4] C4[4] Credit
x C5[5] Credit
x C6[6] Credit
E D7 Pass
x E8 Pass
F F9 Fail

Tertiary education
The grading system varies depending of the institution. Almost all the tertiary institutions are based on the Grade Point Average (G.P.A) as a way of assessing whether a student is failing or passing. But individual schools have their own way of calculating GPA's, because of their individualized marking schemes. For example, a mark of 80 may be an A in a school, but may be an A+ in another school.