Education in Ghana has gone through a lot of transformations due to political ideologies.

There are, as usual, two kinds of schools in Ghana; the public, which is under government and the private which is run by individuals and missions.

The public is affordable so the average Ghanaian mostly sends his child/children there. The private school purports to offer high-quality education at a rather higher cost.

Public schooling in Ghana comes with it’s “advantages”. There are things that happen in public schools which do not happen in private schools. Below, we bring to you, 10 things you can relate to if you attended a public school in Ghana. Let’s go


1. Shift System

Due to the large intake, some public schools run a two-shift system; Morning and Afternoon. The morning group starts school at 7 am and close at 12, whiles the afternoon session starts at 12 and ends at 5 pm. It was rotated every two weeks meaning you get to attend school in the morning for two weeks and then attend school in the afternoon for the next two weeks in that order.

Shift System

2. Roasted Maize And Groundnut In The Pocket

During break time, students after having their meals will buy roasted maize groundnut as dessert. Since eating in class was/is prohibited, they’ll put it in their pockets and chew on them secretly in class. If you get caught, you know your back is going to hurt from the stroke of the cane.

Roasted maize and groundnut
Roasted maize and groundnut is a Ghanaian delicacy

3. Bell Boy

How will you feel if you’re in charge of ringing the bell for assembly, break time and closing? This was a position that many fought over. The one who is chosen finally executes his responsibility with pride. There are times when the bell boy is angry and he decides to punish everyone by not ringing the bell on time either for break or closing.

A student rings a bell signaling the change of classes at a school outside Accra, Ghana

4. Please, Teacher May I Go Out To Urinate?

I remember when we were taught this popular phrase back at school. It still makes me laugh when I remember it. Because most pupils in public schools are used to vernacular, it is the most used language in schools. To correct this, pupils were taught simple phrases for various activities or actions and this one was the topmost one. Even when kids want to visit the loo to ease themselves, they’ll use this phrase.

5. P.E

There is no happier moment in a public school than the period for P.E. or physical education. It took a while for us to understand that it was actually a subject. We always saw it as an opportunity to go out and play some soccer or just run around the school making noise. The rare occasions where a teacher actually takes pupils for P.E., it was just to exercise, do some stretches and take part in some few games.

Physical education in Ghana schools

6. Mental

This was/is a dreaded time for anyone who attended a public school. It’s mostly carried out in the morning. The teacher enters the class and makes everyone stand on their feet. He/She then goes around with his/her cane asking pupils random questions. A right answer will earn you the opportunity to sit whiles a wrong one will earn you some strokes of the cane. And students have just some few seconds to answer a question. Geez

Photo: Creo Concept, YouTube

7. Hiding Plantain Chips Under Your Desk

Public school students can’t go without chewing something in class. Fried plantain chips are one delicacy that kids love so after break, you purchase and take it to class. You put it under your desk and munch on it whiles the teacher is in the class.

Plantain chips

8. Inspection Of Uniforms And Fingernails At Assembly

Mostly on Monday’s during assembly, the teacher’s will come down and walk through the classes. They’ll inspect one’s uniform, shoes, socks, teeth and fingernails. Those who are found wanting are given strokes of the cane or made to go home to change. Having a dirty uniform on a Monday means you don’t wash which the means you don’t take life skills very seriously.

9. Taken To School To Be Beaten For Something You Did At Home

Can you imagine being taken ti school to be beaten for something you did at home? This used to happen in the past and I’m not sure if it still does. But in the past, parents will march their kids to school and report them to either their teacher’s or the headmaster/mistress. If you’re lucky, you get beaten in the headteacher’s office or in front of your colleagues in class. Otherwise, you’ll be beaten in front of the whole school during assembly and your crime will be announced to all….Such embarrassment.

10. Telling Your Parents You’re In Afternoon Shift Just To Escape School

If you don’t want to go to school, just confuse your parents with the shift system. If they ask you in the morning, you say you’re in the afternoon shift. Afternoon, you dress and go to school but you don’t attend class. You just hang around and play soccer during break time. Or you use the opportunity to go play somewhere. who were we deceiving? Lol

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