Education is widely accepted as a leading instrument for promoting economic growth. For Africa, where growth is essential, education is particularly important if the continent is to climb out of poverty. For several decades, development agencies have placed relatively great emphasis on primary and, more recently, secondary education (Bloom et al., 2014). Part of the reason for the lack of attention to higher education within development initiatives lies in the shortage of empirical evidence that it affects economic growth and poverty reduction (Tilak, 2005).
Agriculture education is one of the vital areas of education in the country. Pupils and students in the basic and secondary schools respectively learn it through the Integrated Science subject which is an integration of the three natural sciences and agriculture (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, 2004). Agriculture science is a core subject in the country and hence one has to pass it before accessing a higher education. Agriculture science also doubles up as one of the programmes pursued at the Senior High School level.
It is a three-year programme designed to expose students to the various areas of agriculture namely soil science, crop science, animal science, agriculture extension and economics and agriculture mechanization so that students can specialize in one of these areas at the university level.Females comprise an extensive extent of Ghana’s populace. They make up 52% of the nation’s populace (Ghana Statistical Service, 2012). Females shape a more prominent extent of the work constrain in the farming division. The segment utilizes 51.8% of the financially dynamic female populace in the nation (Ministry of Food and Agriculture, 2011). Despite these impressive statistics of females in agriculture in the country, few women enroll in agriculture science programmes at the Senior High School (SHS) and tertiary levels. The number remains very low compared to females in other programmes like general arts and home economics. (citation)Gender difference in schooling has received considerable attention worldwide and many developing countries, including Ghana have been struggling with the issues of achieving gender equality for several decades (Jones et al., 2009). At the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, particular emphasis was placed on female education not only as a fundamental right, but also as an important means for economic and social development (UNESCO, 2003). Education is vital to the achievement of greater equality in society, including between men and women. Also, the Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3 underscore the importance of ensuring equal access to education for girls, eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education, developing non-discriminatory education programs and curricula, and allocating sufficient resources for monitoring and implementing equitable educational reforms (UNESCO, 2003).The questions of gender equity have received relatively little attention in localized education reform efforts in Africa and most developing countries. Unfortunately for most developing countries, girls seem to suffer more discrimination in terms of access and retention at all levels of education, particularly in secondary and higher education (UNESCO, 2007). Lack of education has been identified as a major obstacle to women’s employment and development in society. According to the 2007 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, out of the 77 million children who were not enrolled in either primary or secondary school worldwide in 2004, 57% were girls. Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounted for 38 million (about 50%) out of the 77 million out of school children while South and West Asia accounted for 16 million and East Asia for 9.3 million in 2004. Data available indicate that countries with the largest numbers of out of school children in 2004 were in Nigeria, Pakistan, India and Ethiopia. They were followed by Saudi Arabia, the Niger, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Cґte d’Ivoire, Mali, Ghana and Mozambique (UNESCO, 2007).In Africa, Egypt, even though it is a desert, has put a lot of weight on agricultural education mostly on irrigation farming utilizing the Nile waters. Today, Egypt is self-sufficient in food production, equipped with skills concerning soil conservation and water management (Alabu, 2001). Other Sub-Saharan countries, like South Africa, have made agriculture a compulsory subject in secondary schools giving it value in the curriculum. Economic development in these countries clearly shows the importance of agriculture as a source of employment and food security. In developing countries which depend heavily on agriculture for economic development such as Ghana, the study of agriculture which is a technical subject is optional in secondary schools, which makes it simple for female students to change from enrolling into agricultural programs to other programs (Diao et al., 2007).This is a matter of concern especially in Ghana where agriculture is the backbone of the economy. The enrollment of girls in secondary schools among other optional subjects makes it difficult for the learners to decide correctly. The study of agriculture as a key subject in secondary school curriculum is very important so as to produce female graduates with requisite skills and positive attitude to engage in agricultural practices. The country puts a lot of efforts and finances in teaching of agriculture in the middle and higher levels of learning while the enrollment of females in agriculture programs is still not impressive. The policy concerns include specialization into non-traditional agriculture produces and value addition to decrease vulnerability; improving food security and reduce those people suffering from starvation as well as attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Post Millennium Developments Goals (PDGs).