The missing link in human resource development: The case of female headporters (Kayayei) in Ghana

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JUNE, 2015
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The consequences of uneven economic development in Ghana have made the major cities in the south a destination for internal migrants from other areas in the country. One such migrant group is the female adolescents, averaged between 8 and 22 years of age who migrate to the cities of Accra and Kumasi independent of family. They are known as kayayei (female head porters) who do commercial load carrying as a means of livelihood while in the city. These kayayei forgo opportunities afforded by the supposedly free formal education and training in that part of the country where they come from and migrate to the city. This raises legitimate questions about the effectiveness of human resource development policies in the country. A pertinent question is, why would girls of school going age be living on the streets of cities when the country is pursuing the MDG of universal basic education? The research sought to investigate the causes and effects of their migration; their level of education and skills acquired; views of stakeholders on improving their livelihood; and the existing National Human Resource Development (NHRD) policies which are relevant to improving their employability. Themes in the Urban Livelihood Framework have been linked to HRD policy to provide the conceptual background to the study. 156 respondents comprising 101 female head-porters, 50 members of civil society organizations and 5 state officials were purposely sampled to participate in individual in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and survey. The female porters were reached using the snowball style of purposive sampling. Participants were interviewed at the central business districts and slum areas in Accra and Kumasi, the two major cities of Ghana. Using the content analysis approach, thematic analysis was employed to analyze the qualitative data to arrive at a storyline. Subequently, a survey was conducted to determine the frequencies of some major findings from the qualitative data. Hence, simple frequency distributions were used to analyze the data collected with questionnaire to determine the percentage ratings of the issues on five point likert type scales. Generally, analysis of data indicated that current livelihood of the female porters is explained by several factors which are classified into socio-cultural, human development and some general factors operating in their home communities and the destination cities where they ply their trade. Among the policies on national human resource development explored, Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) has been found to contain policy elements relevant to addressing the plight of the female porters as a vulnerable group. However, inadequate formal infrastructure; generic training methodology which does not consider individual needs assessment; and non-syllabi-based and long period of training duration in the informal apprenticeship system were found to be challenges confronting policy implementation in the TVET sector. The policy related issues were under-funding, inadequate infrastructure and non-responsiveness of skills to labour market demands. The findings would be relevant in increasing consciousness among state agencies, civil society actors and researchers on the critical socio-cultural issues confronting education including technical and vocational training in Ghana as well as the current organization of the school and vocational skills training systems which is failing to enhance educational development of girl-children in rural Ghana. Advocacy, education, law and policy enforcement, social protection and reorganization of the school system in rural home communities of the female porters have been recommended as the means for reversing their migration to the south at the expense of their educational development.
Thesis submitted to the School of Business, College of Art and Social Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (PhD) in Management Studies