The drop out experience of basic school children in rural Ghana: implications for universal basic education policy

Type Thesis or Dissertation - PhD
Title The drop out experience of basic school children in rural Ghana: implications for universal basic education policy
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 0-0
One of the key issues surrounding participation in basic schooling is the phenomenon of school dropout. Dropout is known not as a single event but a process that is not well understood. The rationale for this thesis argues that unless the dropout process is understood, there will be no meaningful intervention to curb it. This study therefore explores the dropout experience of basic school children in Ghana. In the context of this exploratory study, informed by the concerns of achieving education for all children by the year 2015, I sought to gain insight into the processes that lead children to drop out of school, how dropout occurs, the manifestation of dropout and the policy implications of dropout for free compulsory universal basic education in Ghana. The research inquiry is guided by two main research questions: what are the experiences of dropout children? And how is school dropout manifested? Specifically, the research questions sought to explore children‘s understanding and interpretation of dropout, how dropout occurred; what conditions within and outside school do children regard as responsible for their dropping out, and what the implications of the findings are for universalising universal basic education in Ghana. In exploring the experience of dropout children, I tracked 18 children who had initial access to basic education but stopped schooling at some point for their stories. I used multiple methods of data collection, viz. in-depth interviews, observations, photographs and school records. From the data gathered, the following are the main findings of the study: Concerning the dropout process, children experience dropout first as temporary—sporadic, event and cohort based on their economic survival needs and later permanently—unsettled and settled as a result of becoming significantly overage and the diminished value of schooling. Conditions both within school – teacher factor, school practices and processes, and outside – poverty, opportunity cost of schooling, networks among children to encourage dropout by pushing and/or pulling children out of school. As a process, pupils go through three phases – disadvantage, disaffection and disappearance to become school dropouts. It is argued that, to prevent pupils from dropping out of school and to encourage children who already dropped out to return to school. Education policy would have to focus more on addressing the peculiar needs of children who show sights of entering the dropout process. Also, it is necessary to differentiate out of school children – dropouts from out of school children –never enrolled when designing and implementing interventions for universalising basic education.

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