High failure rate in the final exams of Junior and Senior High Schools is disproportionately affecting girl’s education and future prospects in the north of Ghana. Because of the free boarding housing systems in three northern regions of Ghana, children from disadvantage backgrounds are able to access secondary education. After the final exams, the students need to leave the boarding houses and return to their villages. In most of these villages, there is no electricity and no academic support is available for the students. An effective preparation for re-sit exams on failed subjects is therefore practically impossible.
Remedial classes are often offered only in the urban settings as a business. For students from poor background and remote villages without any accommodation in the urban centres, effective preparation to re-write failed subjects is out of reach. Therefore, not passing in only one or two subjects could mean in most cases, that the final certificate and completion of school is never achieved. The same fate applies to students completing Junior High Schools (JHS).
For girls in particular, not passing the final exams puts them in extremely difficult situations. Back home, they come under extreme pressure to get married soon because of traditional values and the dowry system. This pressure is often the result of several years of committing family resources to support the girl’s education, which the whole family accepted for their daughter to attend school. When she returns home without a certificate, marriage seems to be the only way. Under such circumstances, her chances of passing any re-sit exams without any further support are very limited. In most cases, the families see her failure as an opportunity to push her into child marriage in return for dowry to fight family poverty.
In response to the high demand by young girls for support to escape forced child marriages, the YHFG initiated the girls’ remedial school (GSS) project in 2013. In the GSS project, girls who have failed some subjects in their final year senior high school examinations are given the opportunity to re-write the exams and progress on their career prospects. The project has provided a local housing accommodation facility at the new youth centre in Yikene in Bolgatanga. The girls are housed in the local house during the remedial school to keep them away from their families and away from all pressures to get married. At the youth centre, they have access to electricity and facilities for night studies as well. They also receive remedial support from volunteer teachers who prepare them both mentally and psychologically to ensure that they pass their examinations.