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Hon. Ephraim Avea Nsoh (Dr)
Hon. Daniel Awenyue Syme

Cultural  And Social Structures
Ghanaians by birth or parentage constitute 92.5 per cent of the population of the region. Naturalized Ghanaians constitute a further 5.3 per cent and the rest are non-Ghanaians. There are thus fewer non-Ghanaians (2.1%) than naturalized Ghanaians, constituted of ECOWAS national (1%), other Africa (0.7%) and non-Africa (0.4%).

Ethnicity And Languages
The major ethnic groups in Upper East fall under the broad categories of Mole Dagbon (74.5%), Grusi (8.5%), Mande-Busanga (6.2%) and Gurma (3.2%). Among the Mole Dagbon, the major sub-groupings are the Namnam (30.5%), Kusasi (22.6%), Nankani- Gurense (9.2%) and Builsa (7.6%).

The Kassena (6.5%) of the Grusi, Busanga (5.9%) of the Mande-Busanga and Bimoba (2.8%) of the Gurma are the other significant ethnic subgroups. The major languages of the region are Gurene (Frafra), Kasina, Nankani, Buile, Kusal, Mampruli and Bisa.

In addition to the 7 major groups, there are several minor ethnic groups in the region. For example, the Bimoba comprise 2.8 per cent of the population in the region but have no concentration in any one district.

The Busanga who form 5.9 per cent in the region have major concentrations in only Bawku West (7.8%) and Bawku East (15.4%). The Kusasi make up about one in five of the region’s population whereas the Mamprusis make up less than two percent. However, the Mamprusis are highly concentrated in the area adjacent West Mamprusi and East Mamprusi of Northern Region.

Other minority groups are the Dargarte (Dagaba) who make up less than one per cent (0.9%) of the region’s population. Their concentration is above the regional percentage share in only two districts, (Builsa, 3.9% and Bolgatanga, 1.7%). It is noted that the Dagarte are indigenes from the Upper West who migrated to settle in this area long before the current regions were created.

The Dagombas make up less than one per cent (0.8%) of the region’s population with the highest concentration of 1.7 per cent in the Bolgatanga district. The Vagala with 1.1 per cent of the region’s population has concentration above the regional value in only Bawku West (4.7%) and Bawku East (2.1%).

In all, minority ethnic groups which are not from the southern sector of the country comprise about 10 per cent of the population of the region (10.3%). The presence of the minority ethnic groups in the region has socio-culture implications that have a bearing on ethnic instability in the region, especially in Bawku West and Bawku East. The regional picture, however, changes depending on the base district of the ethnic groups.

For instance the Builsa who constitute 7.6 per cent of the region’s population, make up 84.1 per cent of the population of the district.

Religious Affiliation
Three main religious grouping are found in the Upper East Region, namely: Christianity, Islam and the Traditional. Traditional religion is the most common form of worship in the region (46.4%), followed by Christianity (28.3%) and Islam (22.6%).

About two per cent (1.9%) profess no religious affiliation, and less than one per cent (0.8 percent) belong to other religious groupings. Catholics form the majority of Christians (57.7%) followed by Pentecostal/Charismatic groups (21.7%) and Protestants (12.3%).

For the region as a whole, the proportion of females professing the Christian faith (54.3%) is larger than for males. Indeed, both numbers and proportions for all the Christian denominations and the other religions are larger for females than for males. The Upper East is the only region in which adherents of traditional religion are close to one-half of the population.

In the country as a whole, the proportion is 8.5 per cent but in the two adjacent regions, Northern (21.3%) and Upper West (29.3%), the proportions are quite significant. The three northern regions have similar traditional, social and religious practices including ancestor worship and the almost total acceptance of the authority of the clan head.

The duration of exposure to Christianity may not be a possible explanation for the continued adherence to traditional religion. Even in Kassena-Nankana where the White Fathers opened their first mission station at Navrongo in 1906, 55.4 per cent are traditionalists.

Marital Affiliation
Information on marital status is applicable to persons 12 years or older. The eligibility for this question is “based on the average age of menarche and also on the practice in some parts of the country where girls as young as 12 years old could be given in marriage” (Ghana Statistical Service, March 2002). Since 92.3 per cent of the population aged 12-14 are never married, however, the data on marital status are presented only for the population 15 years or older.

The data show that in the region as a whole, about three out of every four (75.4%) have been married before. This is made up of 66.6 per cent of males and 82.8 per cent of females.

The proportion widowed is much higher for females (13%) compared to males (3%), a threefold increase. The reasons for this substantial imbalance may be that one woman dying results in only one male widowed in a monogamous marriage or no widow at all if the man is polygamous. On the other hand, one man dying will result in more than one widowed female in a polygamous marriage. “Polygamy is widely practised in the region (36%).

Furthermore, the relatively lower proportion of widowed men as compared to women reflects the higher level of mortality among men and also suggests that men are more likely than women to remarry upon the death of a spouse” (Ghana Statistical Service, October 1999). Men also marry relatively younger women and therefore tend to die early, leaving much younger widows who for traditional or cultural reasons may never remarry or much later, if at all.

The region show that only 21.2 per cent of the population (15 years and older) are literate in either English only (12.9%), both English and Ghanaian language (6.6%) or Ghanaian language only (1.7%). The regional level of illiteracy (78.1%) is much higher than the national average of 45.9 per cent (Figure 1.3).

Not Literate English Ghanaian Language Engilsh & Ghanaian Others
The majority of the 54.1 per cent of Ghana’s adult population, who are literate in at least one known and written language, have that ability in both English and a Ghanaian language. This observation is true for both males and females. In the Upper East, however, 58.9 per cent of the literate (for both sexes) are literate in English only.

Instruction in Ghanaian schools is in both English and Ghanaian languages. Prior to the new educational reform programme, instruction at the primary school level was largely in Ghanaian languages. In the new system, instructions start in English.

The proportion literate in a Ghanaian language (i.e. literate in a Ghanaian language only or literate in English and a Ghanaian language) however is only 8.3 percent.

A partial explanation may be that several of the ethnic languages are only spoken and not written. This implies that there is a lot more to do to push the reading and writing of Ghanaian languages in the school system.

Since much of literature and mass communication is in English, the effective literacy level is only 19.4 percent. The fact that a little above three in four adults are not literate is unfortunate and must be a challenge to reduce the level.

Educational Attainment
The overall levels of educational attainment are much lower in the region, compared with the country as whole. For instance the proportion of the population aged three years and over that have no schooling or attended only pre-school is 75.7 per cent in the region compared to 47.7 per cent in the country as a whole. When educational attainment is restricted to the population aged 6 years and over, the proportion in the region which has never attended school is 71.8 percent.

This proportion is higher for females (76.4%) than for males (66.8%). For the population aged 6 years and over who have attended school before, almost one in two (48.1%) attained primary level. About one in five (20.8%) attained middle/JSS, and about one in eight (12.5%) attained secondary/senior secondary. Less than 5 per cent attained vocational/technical (4.2%) and post-secondary (4.7%). The proportion of males who have attended school before is consistently higher than for females at all levels.

The proportion of the region’s educated population that have primary or middle/JSS as the highest level of education they attained (68.9%) is rather large, and poses a great challenge for the full implementation of the fCUBE and other education improvement programmes. Current school enrolment in Primary 1, however, is generally comparable with the national situation for males and also for females; rather, substantial differences between the national and regional picture persist at the JSS level.

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