Among the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of a functional human resource. The institution of strong educational structures contributes to a society populated by enlightened people, who are able to cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social transformation and its associated economic growth are achieved as individuals apply the skills they learned while they were in school. The acquisition of those skills is facilitated by one individual most of us ‘teacher’ ;.For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments need not ignore teachers and their role in national development.
Teachers will be the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. The performance of teachers generally determines, not just, the grade of education, but the general performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to have the best of education, for them to consequently help train students in the best of ways. It is famous, that the grade of teachers and quality teaching are a few of the most crucial factors that shape the learning and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a large extent, teachers are of quite high quality, in order to manage to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That’s why teacher quality remains a matter of concern, even, in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as for example Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education of prime importance due to the potential it must cause positive students’ achievements.
The structure of teacher education keeps changing in nearly all countries in a reaction to the quest of producing teachers who understand the current needs of students or perhaps the demand for teachers. The changes are attempts to ensure quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to ensure classrooms aren’t free from teachers. In the U.S.A, how to promote top quality teachers has been a problem of contention and, for the past decade or so, has been motivated, basically, through the strategy prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished California Teachers, 2015). Even yet in Japan and other Eastern countries where there are more teachers than needed, and structures have already been instituted to ensure top quality teachers are produced and employed, issues concerning the teacher and teaching quality are still of concern (Ogawa, Fujii & Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is therefore no joke anywhere. This informative article is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the second part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.
2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to make quality teachers on her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to offer an entire teacher education program through the provision of initial teacher training and in-service training programs, which will produce competent teachers, who will help improve the potency of the teaching and learning that continues in schools. The Initial teacher education program for Ghana’s basic school teachers was offered in Colleges of Education (CoE) only, until quite recently when, University of Education, University of Cape Coast, Central University College and other tertiary institutions joined in. Probably the most striking difference between the programs provided by the other tertiary institution is that as the Universities teach, examine and award certificates for their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition as the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. Working out programs provided by these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to instruct in the schools. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs to be able to ensure quality.
The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher education programs on the basis of the structure and content of the courses proposed by the institution. Hence, the courses run by various institutions differ in content and structure. For example, the course content for the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast is slightly different from the course structure and content of the Center for Continue Education, University of Cape Coast and none of both of these programs matches that of the CoEs, though each of them award Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) after four years of training. The DBE and the Four-year Untrained Teacher’s Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programs run by the CoEs are merely similar, however, not the same. The exact same can be said of the Two-year Post-Diploma in Basic Education, Four-year Bachelor’s degree programs run by the University of Cape Coast, the University of Education, Winneba and the other Universities and University Colleges. In effect even though, same products attract same clients, the preparation of these products are done in numerous ways.
It’s through these many programs that teachers are prepared for the essential schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs through which teachers are prepared are noticed to be good in situations where you can find shortages of teachers and more teachers should really be trained in just a very short time. An average example may be the UTDBE program, mentioned previously, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to make more teachers, because of shortage of teachers, gets the tendency of comprising quality.
As noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the factors that donate to the issues of teacher education and teacher retention are varied and complex, but one factor that teacher educators are involved about is the choice pathways through which teacher education occur. The prime aim of many of the pathways is always to fast track teachers to the teaching profession. This short-changed the required teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming classroom teachers. Those who favor alternative routes, like Teach for America (TFA), according to Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) have defended their alternative pathways by saying that even although the students are engaged in a short-period of pre-service training, the students are academically brilliant and so have the capacity to learn a whole lot in a quick period. learn maths and english online Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where you can find usually shortages of teachers, there must be a deliberate setting up of alternative pathways to good candidates who’d done English, Mathematics and Science courses at the undergraduate level. None of those arguments in support of alternative pathways, hold for the choice teacher education programs in Ghana, where the academically brilliant students shun teaching due to reasons I shall come to.
When the target is just to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the back ground, somehow. Right at the selection stage, the choice pathways ease the necessity for gaining entry into teacher education programs. When, as an example, the second batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I could say confidently that entry requirements to the CoEs weren’t adhered to. What was emphasized was that, the applicant must certanly be a non-professional basic school teacher who has been engaged by the Ghana Education Service, and that the applicant holds a certificate above Basic Education Certificate Examination. The grades obtained didn’t matter. If this pathway hadn’t been created, the CoEs wouldn’t have trained students who initially didn’t qualify to enroll in the normal DBE program. However, it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.
Even with regular DBE programs, I have realized, just recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, aren’t attracting the candidates with quite high grades. This as I have learnt now features a huge influence on both teacher quality and teacher effectiveness. The truth is, teacher education programs in Ghana aren’t regarded as prestigious programs and so applicants with high grades do not go for education programs. And so many applicants who apply for teacher education programs have, relatively, lower grades. When the entry requirement for CoEs’ DBE program for 2016/2017 academic year was published, I noticed the minimum entry grades have been dropped from C6 to D8 for West African Senior Secondary School Examination candidates.
This drop in standard could only be related to CoEs’ try to attract more applicants. The universities too, lower their take off point for education programs whilst attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to express, as cash cows. Their desire to earn money, force them to lessen admission standards, such as the CoEs have done, to be able to increase their enrollments. The fact that, admission standards are internationally lowered to be able to achieve a target of increasing numbers. This weak recruitment practice or lowering of standards introduce a significant challenge to teacher education.
The Japanese have already been able to produce teacher education and teaching prestigious and therefor attract students with high grades. One may argue that in Japan, the way to obtain teachers far exceeds the demand and so authorities aren’t under any pressure to hire teachers. Their system won’t suffer if they do all they are able to to pick higher grade student into teacher education programs. For them, the issues concerning the selection of teachers are more critical that the issues concerning recruitment. However, in western and African countries the issues concerning recruitment are prime. It’s so because the demand for teachers far outweighs that of supply. Western and African countries have difficulties recruiting teachers because teachers and the teaching profession isn’t held in high esteem.
Teacher education programs therefore do not attract students who have excellent grades. It’s worth noting that, it is not the recruiting procedure only that determines if teacher education is likely to be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that if training, teachers will exhibit the two characteristics necessary to effective teaching – quality and effectiveness. Teacher education can be effective if the teaching profession is held in high esteem and therefore able to attract the best of applicants. Otherwise, regardless of incentives put in spot to attract applicants and regardless of the measures which will be put in spot to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.