Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Sarah J. Noonan

Second Advisor

Fr. Jean-Pierre Bongila

Third Advisor

Aura Wharton-Beck



This study focused on the experiences of non-Catholic high school students attending two Catholic schools supported by government funding in Ghana. Due to financial constraints, the Catholic Church appealed to the Ghana government for financial support. Once approved, the government became part of the administration of these schools. I explored the meaning non-Catholic students ascribed to their experiences participating in the religious program with the goal of documenting the potential adverse effects of school policies. I adopted a phenomenological qualitative approach for my study. Interviews, observations, and documents constituted the sources of data collection. The data analysis revealed non-Catholic students experienced distress due to several factors. They knew little of the robust religious program of Catholic schools prior to their admission. The schools required all students to participate in Catholic worship. Non-Catholic students felt uncomfortable immersing themselves in a faith they did not profess. Participants described the liturgy as unintelligible because of its symbolism. To adapt, non-Catholic students practiced their faith in secret to maintain their religious identities. Despite the challenges, participants were impressed with the schools’ serene climate and exceptional discipline, which promoted learning. They acknowledged positive relationships between students, teachers, and the administrators with few exceptions. Also, understanding participants’ perspective might initiate a change of the worship policy and give students more freedom to practice their faith and ease the tension between the parties. The schools might need to revise the entrance procedures to ensure applicants know what to expect of them as students attending a Catholic school.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

This file may be slow to open due to its size. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Education Commons