Ghana’s Essential Support for the New Free Education Treaty

It now has a vital role to play in ensuring that more children worldwide have access to free education as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. A new initiative spearheaded by Sierra Leone, the Dominican Republic, and Luxembourg is asking members of the United Nations (UN) to support the creation of an international treaty that would explicitly guarantee every child the right to free pre-primary education for at least one year and free secondary education for another.

Less than a year after Ghana gained independence and at a time when less than half of children globally of similar ages were enrolled in school, Ghana took the first step toward free education in 1952 when it implemented tuition-free elementary education for children aged six to twelve.

President Kwame Nkrumah then enacted fee-free mandatory education for primary and middle school (as it was then called) in 1961, just after independence, though the government initially found it difficult to secure the funds needed to carry out the promise.

2008 saw Ghana become the first nation in Sub-Saharan Africa to guarantee two years of free and mandatory pre-primary education, extending free education to kindergarten students.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo then launched the Free Senior High School initiative in 2017. The cost of offering free education would “be cheaper than the cost of the alternative of an uneducated and unskilled workforce,” according to President Akufo-Addo at the time.