The distribution of the non-Ghanaian population of the region by district. Overall, the non-Ghanaian population represents only about 2.0 per cent of the population of the region, with 1.3 per cent coming from other ECOWAS countries and 0.02 per cent non- Africans.
The numbers are small but vary considerably at the district level. Six of the districts have more than 2.0 per cent of non-Ghanaian population. Tamale, which is a municipality and the capital district of the region, has the lowest proportion of non- Ghanaians. Ethnic strife and social instability, lack of access roads and poor infrastructure could explain the relatively limited penetration of non-Ghanaians into the region.
The predominant ethnic group is the Mole-Dagbon, accounting for 52.2 per cent of the population. They represent the largest ethnic group in seven of the thirteen districts of the region. The Gurmas are the next predominant ethnic group, making up 21.8 per cent of the population. They are largely concentrated in seven districts and constitute the majority in three, Nanumba, Zabzugu-Tatale and Saboba-Chereponi. The bulk of the Guan ethnic group in the region is concentrated in three districts, Bole, West Gonja and East Gonja.
Islam is the dominant religion, of the region, with 56.1 per cent of the population professing Islam as their religion. Traditional religion is the next dominant faith with 21.3 per cent, while Christians represent 19.3 per cent of the population. At the district level, Islam is the predominant religion of more than 64.0 per cent of the population in seven of the thirteen districts and constitutes over 23.0 per cent of the population in each of the other six districts. Traditional religion and Christianity each constitutes about a third of the population in Bole, Saboba-Chereponi and West Mamprusi.
There is a wide gap in educational attainment between the country as a whole and the region. At the national level, 38.0 per cent (33.1% males and 44.5% females) of the population 6 years and older have never been to school compared with 72.3 per cent (66.6% males and 77.9 females) in the Upper West Region. The district with the lowest percentage of the population that has never been to school is Tamale with 50.8 per cent (42.5% males and 59.0% females). On the other hand, Gushiegu-Karaga has the highest proportion (84.3%) of the population that has never been to school (79.3 per cent males and 89.0 per cent of females).
The high proportion of the population of the region who have never been to school, ranging from 42.5 per cent to 79.3 per cent for males and 59.0 per cent to89.0 per cent for females, should be of great concern for the regional administration in particular.
Of the population who have ever attended school, 47.5 per cent, made up of 43.6 per cent of males and 53.5 per cent of females, have attained primary school level. About a fifth (21.7%) made up 22.2 per cent of males and 21.1 per cent of females, have attained middle/JSS level. Those who attained secondary/SSS level account for 13.3 per cent (15.7% of males and 10.4% of females) and an additional 4.8 per cent (3.7% males, 4.2% females) attained vocational/technical/commercial school level. About the same percentage of both males and females have attained post secondary school and tertiary levels; the corresponding proportions being 5.1 per cent and 5.5 per cent for males, and 3.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent, for females, respectively. On the whole, the highest educational level attained by majority of the educated in the region, is the primary school (43.6% of males and 53.5% of females).
At the district level, the primary school remains the highest level of education attained by a significant proportion of the populations, ranging from 33.8 per cent in Tamale to 52.4 per cent in West Mamprusi, for the males. The corresponding figures for the females vary from 43.6 per cent in Tamale to 64.8 per cent in Savelugu-Nanton. The middle/JSS level, which is the second highest educational level attained in the region, ranges from 17.8 per cent in Gushiegu-Karaga to 26.4 per cent in East Gonja for males. For females, the proportions that have attained middle/JSS level vary from 14.2 per cent in Gushiegu-Karaga to 25.4 per cent in Tamale.
The male-female differential increases with higher levels in educational attainment. The proportion of females is higher than that of males for primary school attainment (53.5% and 43.6%, respectively); and this is the case in all the districts. On the other hand, the proportion of males that have attained the middle/JSS level is higher than that of females in 11 of the 13 districts (the exceptions being Saboba-Chereponi and Tamale). Similarly, male attainment at the secondary/SSS level is appreciably higher than that of females in all the districts. While Gushiegu-Karaga is the only district in the region where the proportion of females (4.5%) is higher than that of males (4.3%) for the vocational/technical/commercial attainment. It is also one of two districts (the other being Zabzugu-Tatale), where the proportion of females is higher than that of males for the tertiary level.
The analysis shows that there is wide disparity between those who have never been to school at the national level (38.0%) and those in the region (72.3%). The disparity is great between females who have never been to school in the region (77.9%) and those at the national level (44.5%). It is therefore necessary to expedite the implementation of on-going programmes geared towards the improvement of educational facilities in the region to raise the educational attainment in the region, particularly with respect to female education. It is equally important to implement such programmes as will sustain the high achievement at the primary school level, particularly for females, through the JSS to higher levels.
The distribution of the literacy status of the population 15 years and older by district. On average, about 22.0 per cent of the population 15 years and older, are classified as literate. This figure varies from about 12.0 per cent in Gushiegu-Karaga to about 43.0 per cent in the Tamale municipality. East Gonja is the next highest, with about 20.0 per cent literacy rate, considerably lower than the rate for the Tamale municipality. Over all, the proportion literate is 12.0 per cent higher among males than females.