Ghana is a developing country because it has not demonstrated signs of a fully developed country. As a developing country, Ghana has a low-level material well being which has been caused by the three biggest problems in the country viz. illiteracy, poverty, and AIDS.
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Actually, as exposited in this paper, the three greatest problems have continually crippled Ghana’s economic growth for long and if necessary measures are not implemented, then the problems will continue to stultify any meaningful economic growth in Ghana.
Explanation of Problems
Problem 1: AIDS
One of the biggest problems in Ghana is AIDS, which has been a serious epidemic in the country. This has been a big problem in the country because half population in Ghana lives with AIDS. AIDS in Ghana has infected both adults and children. Women are the most infected by the pandemic as shown by statistics.
According to Patterson and Haven (2004), sixty percent of the women in Ghana, between the age of fifteen and forty-nine were infected with AIDS by the end of 2007 (p.30). Thousands of children in Ghana are orphans because of AIDS and the number might increase if the government and other bodies do not act appropriately to arrest the situation.
The situation will only become worse in the coming years if the epidemic is not controlled because most people affected by the pandemic are young individuals at the reproductive age. The situation has effects on the economy and development of the country. Ghana’s infection rate stands at three percent and even though it’s a relatively low rate compared to that of South Africa which stands at 20 percent, the trend is still worrying (Patterson & Haven, 2004, p.30).
The number of the AIDS victims has been increasing since 2003. AIDS in Ghana could not have been a serious pandemic if measures to control it had been initiated early enough. Hitherto, many people could not talk openly about it, and that explains why it resulted into a big problem. Lack of enough sex education and awareness has been the driving factors that make AIDS a big problem in Ghana.
Problem 2: Education and Literacy
As stated by Opoku-Amankwa and Brew-Hammond, (2011, p. 100), illiteracy is the inability to read and write, and it comes along with lack of understanding. Illiteracy has been one of the biggest problems in Ghana because more than thirty percent of Ghanaians are illiterate. Illiteracy problem in Ghana needs to be addressed because the country lacks benefits associated with literacy.
The problem is severe in Ghana because illiterate parents tend to get large families and they are not able educate their children. The problem of illiteracy has been prevalent because most parents in the districts are not literate and thus they do not see the need of educating their children.
Illiteracy has been a thorn in Ghana’s economy for a long time and if the situation is not addressed urgently, it might have serious consequences as it has been in India and other places across the globe. The driving factor behind illiteracy in Ghana hinges on culture of neglecting education amongst the people in rural areas and lack of access to modern social services.
Problem 3: Poverty
Like in many other third world countries, poverty has been a big problem in Ghana because it has mostly affected people living in Ghana’s rural areas. More than a half of the country’s population live in rural areas and most of them have limited access to necessities like electricity, good road networks and telephone services (Yeboah, 2010, p. 51).
The northern savannah region of Ghana has the poorest people who are food crop farmers. The problem of poverty, mostly in the rural areas, has been prevalent for long time and even though policy makers have labored greatly to improve the situation, little has changed.
There has been low productivity and poor markets for agricultural products, which has resulted to poverty in the rural areas. The driving factor that keeps the issue of poverty in the rural areas of Ghana is lack of basic social services. As Todaro and Smith put it, poverty affects the quality of life and it promotes inequality in the country (2009, p. 380).
Policy 1: AIDS
In response to the AIDS problem in Ghana, the government in 2001 formed Ghana AIDS Commission (GAC); a body that coordinates all the activities related to AIDS in the country. Since its formation in 2001, the body has dealt with National Strategic Framework on AIDS prevention.
Sex education has been one of the policies used by the Ghanaian government through Ghana AIDs Commission to prevent spread of AIDS: a course that has been supported by Non Governmental Organizations and other international organizations across the world.
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Education about AIDs in Ghana has helped to reduce the spread of the virus, which has consequently improved the lifestyle of many people living in the country. With decreased spread of AIDS, the economy of the country has grown because people have become more productive.
According to Teye (2005), the use of condoms has been one of the policies that have been used by GAC in preventing the spread of AIDS (p.70). The commission has ensured that there is a proper channel of condom distribution for safer sex. Nevertheless, the policy has been faced with numerous challenges of prices where people from some areas complain of high prices.
The partial failure caused by the high prices of condoms increases the spread of AIDS in Ghana and the problem has to be dealt with befittingly. Failure by the government to supply enough condoms and regulate prices of the same underscores the reason why some people cannot practice safe sex through condom use.
Policy 2: Education and Literacy
The policy used in the past to promote literacy in Ghana was Mass Education, which aimed at wiping out illiteracy in the country. Kwame Nkrumah, a former president, initiated the policy in 1951 and it was referred to as Nkrumah’s Mass education by then. However, the current policy being used to promote literacy by the government of Ghana is The Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education.
The implementation of the latter policy has led to changes in the economy because individuals are able to carry out their daily activities. People are able to understand labels and read signpost on the roads. Individuals who could not participate in the national development are now able to participate and it has brought great positive changes in the economy.
Individuals from Ghana have changed their lifestyles because they are able to understand machinery instructions. The number of illiterate people in Ghana is decreasing due to the introduction of the education policy and this has been proved by the United Nations Development Program statistics, which ranked Ghana at position 149 with 65% literacy rate in 2009.
The program has succeeded in reducing illiteracy amongst the young people according to Literacy projects in Ghana bear fruits (1996, p.10). Many people have enrolled for the basic education and positive results have been realized so far. The only failure that has been associated with the education problem is that most of the adults in interior rural areas are not able to access education due to lack of interest and detrimental culture that disregards education.
Policy 3: Poverty
In 2008, the government instituted the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty Program aimed to help the poor people improve their lives. Importantly, the aim of the programme was to provide schooling to the orphans, health insurance, and economic empowerment to the poor.
The programme has brought changes to the economy because individuals are able to get necessities, which has led to a GDP growth of 7.3 percent in 2008, from 4.8 percent in the past decade. Individuals have changed their lifestyles because they receive health insurances and orphans get access to education. The extremely poor people improved their livelihood and they no longer spend nights without food.
Unfortunately, the success of the program did not last for a long time because the policy collapsed and allowances are no longer paid. The government has been the reason behind the failures but nothing much is lost and if necessary measures take effect, a lot can be salvaged in terms of economic growth.
To minimize the spread of AIDS infections, more awareness should be created through increased sexual education. People in Ghana should be taught how to be cautious in sexual matters. The benefit of sexual education is that it covers available prevention methods.
Teachers in schools should teach students how to control the epidemic. Increased education to all age groups will reduce and stop the spread.
The country should seek to have many education programs and policies that will enable the country to fight and reduce if not eliminate illiteracy. The country should invest in the rural areas where most of the illiterate people live. The programmes used should adjust to the people’s lifestyles; for example, the adults can be taught in the evening at their free time.
To reduce poverty levels in the rural areas, the country is supposed to revive the Livelihood Empowerment against Poverty Programme. This will bring back the gains that have been lost by the government. The country should also help the rural people to access basic services for such will help people to improve their farming and reduce the poverty levels.
The three biggest problems in Ghana, a developing country, have been poverty, illiteracy and AIDS. The policy, initiated by Ghana AIDS Commission, to use condoms failed because of lack of proper planning.
Together with sex education, the government should control the prices of condoms in all districts and make sure that there is proper distribution. Illiteracy has deprived the country some of the advantages that are associated with literacy.
Education programmes should adjust to the needs of people; they should target children and youth in the rural areas that are at the risk of being illiterate. Poverty, which has been a great problem in Ghana rural areas, should be addressed by promoting agriculture in the country.
Literacy projects in Ghana bear fruit. (1996). Reading Today, 14(1), 10. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Opoku-Amankwa, K., & Brew-Hammond, A. (2011). Defining and developing literacy in Basic schools in Ghana. International Journal of Bilingual Education & Bilingualism, 14(1), 100.
Patterson, A. S., & Haven, B. (2004). African State Policies on HIV/AIDS: A Comparison Of Ghana and South Africa. Conference Papers — Midwestern Political Science Association, 30-36.
Teye, J. (2005). Condom use as a means of HIV/AIDS prevention and fertility control Among the Krobos of Ghana. Norwegian Journal of Geography, 59(1), 67-73.
Todaro, M, P., Smith, S, C. (2009). Economic development. New York: Prentice Hall.
Yeboah, M. (2010). Urban Poverty, Livelihood, and Gender: Perceptions and Experiences of Porters in Accra, Ghana. Africa Today, 56(3), 50-55.