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Ghana is a sovereign country situated in the western portion of Africa, with a total geographic area of 92,000 square miles.  The country is bordered to the west by Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), to the north by Burkina Faso, to the east by Togo and to the south by the Gulf of Guinea.  The name Ghana, which is derived from the ancient Ghana Empire and means “Warrior King,” was given to the country by revolutionary leaders after Ghana gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957, making it the first territory in Africa to escape the clutches of Western European colonialism.  The name was chosen to honor and reflect the Empire of Ghana, which formerly had comprised the entire area that is now West Africa.  Ghana is one of the most prosperous nations in all of Africa, and one of the largest producers of cocoa in the world.  The capital and largest city in Ghana is Accra.
 
Ghana has a total population of 24 million; a population that, like many countries throughout Africa, is very ethnically diverse.  The ethnic group called the Akan, which includes the Fante, Akyam, Ashante, Kwahu, Akuopem, Nzema, Bono, Akwama and Ahantu people, represents the majority of the country’s population.  English is the official language of Ghana, and predominates in business affairs, communications and government dealings.  It is also the primary language of instruction in Ghanaian schools.  Christianity (78%) is the largest religious group in the country, divided fairly equally by Roman Catholics and those of various Protestant faiths.  A much smaller minority of the population in Ghana practices Islam.
 
Education in Ghana
 
Education in Ghana is overseen by the national government and is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 12—the years that comprise a student’s primary education.  Education is divided into three distinct stages: primary school (6 years), junior high school (3 years) and senior high school (3 years).  This structure is fairly new in the Ghanaian education system, and was borne from major educational reforms in 2006 and 2007 that effectively created a new mid-level stage of education—a comprehensive junior high school program.
 
Primary and junior high schools are charged with providing “basic education” to Ghanaian children, and the curriculum features subjects that include English, Ghanaian language arts and culture, mathematics, environmental studies, social studies and French as a third language.  Technical and religious education is added in the later grades, as are several active studies, including art, music and physical education.
 
Following the third and final year of junior high school, all students are required to sit for the Basic Education Certificate Examination.  Those who score well on this battery are permitted to attend one of the country’s three-year secondary schools, where instruction is focused almost entirely on preparing students for university admission.
 
The higher education system in Ghana is generally considered one of the best in Africa.  It is comprised of six national universities, along with a handful of private institutions, offering undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate programs in most major academic fields.  Specialized programs, such as those in medical and veterinary science, engineering and law, are also available for those students who qualify.
 
As of 2010, the adult literacy rate in Ghana was 67 percent—a respectable figure when compared to the rest of Africa, but still far below that of nations in the developed world.

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