The Right to Education

You have the right to equal education opportunities, including free basic education. The Constitution also states an intent to introduce free secondary and higher education over time.

Comfort was doing well at school. She particularly enjoyed mathematics, and she loved coming to school and seeing her friends every day. Unfortunately, her family was very poor. Comfort and her six siblings and fourteen cousins (all living in the same family house) didn’t have many clothes, and often didn’t have enough food to eat.

When Comfort was ten years old, her parents told her that they needed her to work, to help earn some money so that her younger brothers and sisters could be fed and clothed. Comfort understood, and was happy to help. Her parents set her up selling plantain chips after school at a set of traffic lights on a busy road. She found it difficult at first, but she soon got good at counting the money and giving people the right change, and at carrying the chips on her head without dropping any, and she found it very satisfying knowing that she was helping her family.

After Comfort had been selling plantain chips for a few months, the hotel her father worked at closed down, and he lost his job. He took another job, but it didn’t pay as well, and the family needed Comfort to work more to compensate. Again, Comfort was glad to help, and she was able to work longer hours selling plantain chips on the road. The only problem was that the peak time for traffic – and therefore for sales of plantain chips – was during school hours. So Comfort had to stop going to school so that her little brothers and sisters could have enough to eat.

Even though the government provided equal education opportunities, Comfort was not able to access those opportunities because of the poverty of her family. This means that her parents violated her right to education. Without an education, Comfort has very little chance of improving her life.

 Another example of the right to education being violated occurred recently when seventeen students of Aduman Senior High School in the Afigya-Kwabre District of the Ashanti region were dismissed once it was revealed that they were pregnant. After suspecting some of the girls were pregnant, the Headmaster invited nurses to conduct the pregnancy test on all the girls in the school. The pregnant girls were kicked out of school and their names were posted on the school notice board to serve as a deterrent to other students.

The fact that these girls were kicked out of school just because they were found to be pregnant is a direct violation of their right to an education. In Ghana, it is legal to engage in sex after the age of 16. Therefore, these girls were not breaking any laws and the Headmaster had no reason to force them to leave school. Forcing the girls to take a pregnancy test in the first place as well as posting their names on the school notice board is also a violation of their right to dignity, privacy and confidentiality.