Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Social Work

First Advisor

Jeffrey M. Jenson, Ph.D.


Academic achievement, Ghana, Protection, Resilience, Risk, Youth


Young people in Ghana who grow up in poverty and to families with little or no education endure limited early learning opportunities, underfunded educational systems, and more health and mental health problems compared to their peers from more privileged backgrounds. A significant body of literature addressing the relationship among risk, protection, resilience and academic achievement is based on youth populations in North America and Western Europe. Relatively little is known about the applicability of ecological and risk and resilience frameworks in non-Western countries. Consequently, educational outcomes of young people in Ghana are often characterized by similarities in low achievement, lack of teachers, school supplies, and dilapidated school buildings. Such characterizations mask internal and social resources of individuals in Ghana. In an attempt to understand the processes of students' academic achievement in Ghana, this study examined the relationship among risk, protection, and academic achievement of 276 first-year college students in Ghana. Using a mixed methods design, the study applied ecological theory and the risk and resilience framework to measure personal, family, and environmental conditions that enhanced or inhibited achievement. Bivariate analyses revealed gender and regional differences in measures of protection and risk relative to school achievement. These included parental and individual drug abuse, neighborhood safety, school mentor, neighborhood cohesion, collective efficacy, and parental educational values. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed significant relationships between students' grades and sense of optimism, region of residence, presence of a school mentor, parental social support, and neighborhood safety. Results suggest that there are important gender and regional differences in Ghanaian youths' access and exposure to systems of support and risks. Implications of these findings, limitations of the study design, and directions for future research are discussed.


Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Ziblim Abukari

File size

200 p.

File format





Social work, Social sciences education, African studies