Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A comparison of the official primary mathematics curriculum in Ghana with the way in which it is implemented by teachers

By Kofi Damian Mereku


The official school mathematics curriculum - textbooks, teacher's handbooks, and syllabus - has a powerful influence on classroom practice in a developing country like Ghana, where many teachers with low teaching qualifications hardly ever have access to other sources of information and activity for their teaching. The official mathematics curriculum for Ghanaian primary schools was originally written with the small intellectual elite, who will proceed to secondary and further education, in mind. Concerns have been raised internationally for countries still using such curricula to adjust them, but the Ghanaian official school mathematics curriculum has remained in use in the nation's schools since their introduction in\ud 1975 with no significant revision.\ud \ud The study, on the one hand, involved an investigation of the extent to which primary teachers in Ghana translate the contents of the official mathematics curriculum into classroom reality. On the other hand, it addressed issues related to the nature, and appropriateness, of the current official primary mathematics curriculum, which was an adaptation of the products of the `new-math' project\ud spearheaded by the West African Regional Mathematics Programme in the 1970s.\ud \ud The study used a range of methods for data collection. These include an extensive content and curriculum analysis of the official primary mathematics curriculum materials, and a questionnaire survey of teachers' coverage of the\ud content and teaching methods prescribed by the official curriculum. The questionnaire survey of teachers' coverage of teaching methods involved the observation of teachers in classroom settings. Tape recordings of lessons and\ud instructions from teacher's handbooks were transcribed to provide both qualitative and quantitative data on classroom practice.\ud \ud The analysis of the curriculum revealed several inefficiencies in the Ghanaian primary mathematics curriculum. Though there was rhetoric in the introduction of\ud the curriculum materials on the use of teaching skills that suggest discovery methods, the analysis indicated that learning/teaching activities that would encourage the use of such teaching skills in the materials were not included. It emerged from the findings that neither what the teachers really taught, nor what the official mathematics curriculum prescribed, was found to be adequate enough to meet the full mathematical needs of pupils. It was found that a very substantial part of the content of the curriculum was taught by the teachers, and both the official curriculum and the teachers, who implement it, emphasised expository teaching methods. It was argued in this light that the low pupils' attainment observed in the subject could not be seen simply as a reflection of the teachers' poor coverage of the curriculum, but as a reflection of inefficiencies within it.\ud \ud The findings of this study corroborate what is known about curriculum adaptation in school mathematics. It showed that coverage of textbooks does influence the emphasis on topics presented by teachers in their instruction, and also\ud that topics in arithmetic are the most emphasised by both official mathematics curriculum materials and in teachers' actual classroom practice

Publisher: School of Education (Leeds)
Year: 1995
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1889) Mathematics Teaching: The State of the Art, London: The Falmer Press.
  2. (1984). 313 Central Bureau of Statistics,
  3. (1966). A Geography of Ghana, doi
  4. (1987). A Guide To Teaching Practice, 2nd Edition, doi
  5. (1981). A Survey of Teaching and Learning
  6. (1982). A World Survey, doi
  7. (1990). Alternative perspectives of the nature of school mathematics and their influence on hte teaching of mathematics', doi
  8. (1970). An exploratory study of science teachers' perceptions of effective teaching' doi
  9. (1990). An Outline of the Contribution of Jerome Bruner'
  10. (1971). Area Handbook for Ghana, Washington DC: US Department of State.
  11. (1983). Ausubels' theory of meaningful learning and its implications for primary science' in
  12. (1960). Building up Mathematics.
  13. (1978). Change in mathematics education since the 1950's - ideas an realisation - doi
  14. (1973). Charles Godfrey (1973-1924) and the reform of Mathematical Education', doi
  15. (1988). Chief Examiner's Report: 3 -year post Secondary Mathematics Examination, Cape Coast : Institute of Education.
  16. (1990). Classroom Teaching Models'
  17. (1979). Clear teaching: What is it? doi
  18. (1973). Cognitive processes and learning' doi
  19. (1972). Common Elements in New Mathematics Programs: Origins & Evolutions, Columbia University;
  20. (1978). Conceptual issues in the content/strategy distinction (Research Series No.
  21. (1988). Constructivism' in T. Husen and N. Postlethwaite (eds)
  22. (1984). Contemporary trends in primary school mathematics', doi
  23. (1987). Content Coverage',
  24. (1988). Content Determinants in Elementary School Mathematics. In doi
  25. (1991). Contribution of the CRDD to Ghana's Educational Development with special reference to Mathematics'
  26. (1979). Curriculum Adaptation doi
  27. (1994). Curriculum adaptation within the classroom', In
  28. (1994). Curriculum adaptation', In
  29. (1986). Curriculum Analysis and Curriculum Evaluation: A Contrast', doi
  30. (1977). Curriculum Analysis: An Aid to selection, adaptation, and implementation, of curricula.
  31. (1994). Curriculum Analysis', In doi
  32. (1983). Curriculum Development and Curriculum Research: A review of research in mathematical education, doi
  33. (1981). Curriculum Development in Mathematics, Cambridge : doi
  34. (1978). Curriculum pacing: some empirical data in mathematics', doi
  35. (1979). Curriculum Reality in African Primary Schools,
  36. (1988). Curriculum Research and Development Division of GES,
  37. Curriculum Research and Development Division of GES, (1986a) Ghana Mathematics Series : Primary Pupil 's Book 6. (2nd edition) Accra : Ghana Publishing Corporation.
  38. (1992). Decline in Cross-curricular work in schools', People's Daily Graphic, (local newspaper in Ghana) Accra: Ghana Graphic Corporation.
  39. (1987). Definitions of Teaching'.
  40. (1987). Department of Eduction and Science -(1987) Primary schools - some Aspects of good Practice" London :
  41. (1981). Developing a description of spoken discourse'
  42. (1981). Development and Evaluation of Curriculum Adaptation Scheme' doi
  43. (1981). Difficulties facing mathematics teachers in developing countries: a case study of Nigeria, doi
  44. (1989). Director's Address' In
  45. (1989). Do Textbooks Dictate The Content Of Mathematics Instruction In doi
  46. (1974). Dynamics of Curriculum. Change in Mathematics: Lagos State Mathematics Project.
  47. (1965). Education and Social Change in Ghana, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, doi
  48. (1989). Educational Initiative in Ghana', doi
  49. (1971). Educational Innovations in Africa: Policies and Administration, The Hague, The Netherlands: Institute of Social Studies
  50. (1988). Ethnomathematics A Mulicultural views, of mathematical ideas.
  51. (1992). Factors Militating against effective teaching and learning in primary schools, Accra : Ghana Ministry of Education (Mimeograph) Ghana People's Daily Graphic
  52. (1987). Final Certificate Methodology Exam'
  53. (1994). Ghana Ministry of Education -
  54. (1991). Ghana Ministry of Education and Culture/ National Planning Committee for the Implementation of School Reforms [NPCISR],
  55. (1986). Ghana Ministry of Education,
  56. (1990). Ghana's Policy Adjustment Initiative: Opportunity for Renewal, (An address for
  57. (1989). Graduated Tests in Mathematics: A case study of lower attaining pupils in secondary schools,
  58. (1961). In Defence of Verbal Learning', doi
  59. (1989). Integrating Mathematics with the study of cultural traditions'
  60. (1994). Learning Mathematics: Implications for teaching' In Orton, A and doi
  61. Lome, Togo). Accra: Ministry of Education.;
  62. (1978). Making and testing conjectures'
  63. (1980). Map of Ghanaian Langugaes,
  64. (1988). Mathematical Education in a Context', doi
  65. (1979). Mathematics 5 to I1 .A handbook of suggestions,
  66. (1991). Mathematics and the Current Educational Reforms: a presidential address delivered on the occasion of the 23rd national conference of the Mathematical Association of Ghana',
  67. (1992). Mathematics Education in Africa", In
  68. (1973). Mathematics in Secondary Schools, Cambridge:
  69. (1986). Mathematics in the 1990s, doi
  70. (1989). Mathematics in the Primary School, doi
  71. (1988). Mathematics Instruction' In
  72. (1978). Mathematics Science and Epistemology : Philosophical papers (Vol. 2) Cambridge UK : doi
  73. (1980). Mathematics Teaching : Theory in Practice, doi
  74. (1992). Mathematics Teaching : What is It? For the doi
  75. (1992). Mathematics teaching practices and their effects',
  76. (1979). Mathematics teaching today: perspectives from three national surveys'
  77. (1974). Mathematics, Society, and Curricula, London:
  78. (1978). Methods and Results of Evaluation with respect to Mathematics Education'
  79. (1990). Ministry of Education and Culture-
  80. (1994). Ministry of Education Primary Education Project - PREP,
  81. (1967). Ministry of Education-
  82. (1986). Models of teaching. Englewood Cliffs, doi
  83. (1975). National Advisory Committee on Mathematical Education -
  84. (1989). National Council of Teachers of Mathematics - doi
  85. (1991). National Curriculum in Mathematics, doi
  86. (1987). National Teacher Training Council -
  87. (1981). New Goals for Old: An Analysis of Reactions to Recent Reforms in Several Countries' In
  88. (1988). Nkonsonkonson Vol 9,
  89. (1956). Nonparametric Statistics for the Behavioural Sciences,
  90. (1976). Observations on the suggested syllabus for mathematics'
  91. (1989). of Education and Culture doi
  92. (1963). On learning, teaching and learning teaching'. doi
  93. (1961). Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development - doi
  94. (1977). Paradigmas for research on teacher effectiveness'.
  95. (1972). Patterns of In-service Training for Elementary School Teachers in Bekwai District, (Unpublished Diploma dissertation).
  96. (1982). PGCE students' perceptions of the effective teacher of mathematics at O'level', doi
  97. (1982). Philosophical Issues in Education.
  98. (1987). Potential Areas for Peace Corp Assistant in Ghana's Education Sectors Accra: Ghana Education Service,
  99. (1994). Primary Mathematics Curriculum
  100. (1983). Problem solving or knowledge centred : The influence of philosophy of mathematics teaching'. doi
  101. (1990). Quantitative Data Analysis for Social Scientists. London: Routledge doi
  102. (1993). Real World Research: A Resource for Social Scientists and Practioner-Researchers, doi
  103. (1990). Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology, London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  104. (1977). Research on Curriculum and Instruction Implementation' doi
  105. (1981). Research on teachers' pedagogical thoughts. judgements, decisions and behaviour', doi
  106. (1976). Research on teaching and its implications for policy making: Report on
  107. (1983). Research on teaching as a linguistic process: A state of the art'. doi
  108. (1963). Research on Teaching secondary school mathematics' in
  109. (1973). Research on the teaching of elementaryschool mathematics'
  110. (1963). Set theory in primary grades',
  111. (1975). Some Aspects of Sociolinguistics'
  112. (1986). Some proposals for revising the philosophy of mathematics'. doi
  113. (1987). Students evaluations of teaching' doi
  114. (1986). Task and Activity' doi
  115. (1979). Teacher Autonomy and the control of content taught
  116. (1990). Teachers and teaching in the developing word'
  117. (1992). Teachers' beliefs and conceptions: a synthesis of the reearch'.
  118. (1986). Teachers' thought processes'.
  119. (1994). Teaching and learning in Ghana: a curriculum, textbook, syllabus and handbook analysis.
  120. (1986). Teaching and learning mathematics: Where research should be going. doi
  121. (1979). Teaching Behaviours and Student Achievement, doi
  122. (1986). Teaching Functions' In
  123. (1981). Teaching with Charisma Boston: Allyn and Bacon. doi
  124. (1987). Teaching: art or science? '
  125. Technical Skills of Teaching' In
  126. (1993). Textbook Distribution, Accra-Ghana:
  127. (1986). Textual Analysis' doi
  128. (1975). The analysis of curriculum materials,
  129. (1976). The Development of a Modern Mathematics Curriculum in Africa",
  130. (1978). The diffusion of New Ideas' In
  131. (1981). The Dimensions Of School Curriculum Innovation', doi
  132. (1976). The discussion method' In Gage NL (ed) 1976, The Psychology of Teaching Methods,
  133. (1971). The Entebbe Mathematics Project", doi
  134. (1990). The Essentials of Factor Analysis. (2nd Edition),
  135. (1981). The evolution of mathematics curricula in the Arab States' In
  136. (1992). The Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT),
  137. (1982). The Ghana National Association Of Teachers And The Professional Development Of Teachers: An Inset Africa Project Case Study,
  138. (1989). The IEA Study of Mathematics I: Analysis of Mathematics Curricula, doi
  139. (1988). The impact of beliefs on the teaching of mathematics' Paper prepared for ICME VI.
  140. (1989). The impact of beliefs on the teaching of mathematics', doi
  141. (1983). The importance of in-service training and its impact on professional development of the Ghanaian Teacher, (Unpublished Diploma dissertation),
  142. (1983). The in-service Training of primary teachers in English-speaking Africa.
  143. (1991). The Language Issue in Lower Primary Mathematics Teaching in Ghana,
  144. (1967). The New Mathematics and An Old Culture: A study of learning among the Keel of Liberia, Hot Rinehart and Winston.
  145. (1985). The philosophy of mathematics and mathematics education'. doi
  146. (1963). The psychology of meaningful verbal learning, doi
  147. (1984). The relationship of Teachers' conceptions of mathematics teaching to instructional practice'. doi
  148. (1974). The report of the education review committee. chaired by
  149. (1965). The Roots of Ghana Methodism, Cambridge: doi
  150. (1978). The Structure of Pure Mathematics' doi
  151. (1984). The training of primary school mathematics teachers in Ghana'.
  152. (1969). Thoughts on a cross-national program: African Education Program". Reproduced in
  153. (1990). To the Defense of Traditional Teaching in Lesser-developed Countries, ' In
  154. (1975). Towards an analysis of discourse: the English used by teachers and pupils, London : doi
  155. (1976). Towards taking some of the fun out of the technical skills approach to teacher effectiveness' doi
  156. (1987). What Constructivism might be in mathematics education'
  157. (1971). What is teaching' doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.