One of many 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 can 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 certainly were in school. The acquisition of the skills is facilitated by one individual most of us ‘teacher’ ;.For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments do not need to ignore teachers and their role in national development.
Teachers are the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. The performance of teachers generally determines, not merely, the grade of education, but the typical performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to get the very best of education, for them to subsequently help train students in the very best of ways. It is known, that the grade of teachers and quality teaching are some of the most important factors that shape the educational and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a sizable extent, teachers are of high quality, in order to manage to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That is why teacher quality continues to be 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). Such countries, teacher education of prime importance due to the potential it has to cause positive students’ achievements.
The structure of teacher education keeps changing in virtually all countries in a reaction to the quest of producing teachers who understand the present needs of students or simply the demand for teachers. The changes are attempts to ensure quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to ensure classrooms are not without any teachers. In the U.S.A, how to advertise good quality teachers has been a problem of contention and, for the past decade approximately, 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 many teachers than needed, and structures have already been instituted to ensure good quality teachers are produced and employed, issues relating to the teacher and teaching quality continue to be 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 discusses some determinants of quality teaching.
2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to create quality teachers for her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to supply a complete teacher education program through the provision of initial teacher training and in-service training programs, that’ll produce competent teachers, who will help improve the potency of the teaching and learning that continues on 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. The absolute most striking difference involving the programs made available from another tertiary institution is that while the Universities teach, examine and award certificates with their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition while the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. The training programs made available from these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to show in the schools. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs in order to ensure quality.
The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher education programs based on the structure and content of the courses proposed by the institution. Hence, the courses run by various institutions differ in content and structure. For instance, 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 these two 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 just similar, however not the same. Exactly the same could 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 another Universities and University Colleges. In effect even though, same products attract same clients, the preparation of the merchandise are done in numerous ways.
It is through these many programs that teachers are prepared for the basic schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs by which teachers are prepared are seen to be good in situations where there are shortages of teachers and more teachers ought to be trained in just a very short time. An average example could be the UTDBE program, mentioned previously, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to create 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 difficulties of teacher education and teacher retention are varied and complex, but one factor that teacher educators are concerned about is the alternative pathways by which teacher education occur. The prime aim of lots of the pathways would be to fast track teachers in to the teaching profession. This short-changed the necessary teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming classroom teachers. People who favor alternative routes, like Teach for America (TFA), based on Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) have defended their alternative pathways by saying that even although students are engaged in a short-period of pre-service training, the students are academically brilliant and so have the capability to learn a great deal in a brief period. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where there are usually shortages of teachers, there should be a deliberate opening up of alternative pathways to good candidates who’d done English, Mathematics and Science courses at the undergraduate level. None of the arguments to get alternative pathways, hold for the alternative teacher education programs in Ghana, where in actuality the academically brilliant students shun teaching because of reasons I shall come to.
Once the target is just to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the background, somehow. Right at the choice stage, the alternative pathways ease the requirement for gaining entry into teacher education programs. When, like, the second batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I will say with confidence that entry requirements in to the CoEs weren’t adhered to. What was emphasized was that, the applicant should 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 had not been created, the CoEs wouldn’t have trained students who initially didn’t qualify to enroll in the regular DBE program. However, it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.
Despite having regular DBE programs, I’ve realized, recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with high grades. This as I’ve learnt now features a huge influence on both teacher quality and teacher effectiveness. Truth be told, teacher education programs in Ghana are not regarded as prestigious programs and so applicants with high grades do not opt for tutors online math education programs. And so the majority of applicants who apply for teacher education programs have, relatively, lower grades. Once the entry requirement for CoEs’ DBE program for 2016/2017 academic year was published, I noticed the minimum entry grades had 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 so as attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to state, as cash cows. Their desire to make money, force them to reduce admission standards, like the CoEs have inked, in order to increase their enrollments. The fact, admission standards are internationally lowered in order to achieve a goal 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. It’s possible to argue that in Japan, the method of getting teachers far exceeds the demand and so authorities are not under any pressure to hire teachers. Their system won’t suffer should they do all they can to pick higher grade student into teacher education programs. For them, the difficulties relating to the choice of teachers are more important that the difficulties relating to recruitment. However, in western and African countries the difficulties relating to recruitment are prime. It is so since the demand for teachers far outweighs that of supply. Western and African countries have difficulties recruiting teachers because teachers and the teaching profession is not held in high esteem.
Teacher education programs therefore do not attract students who have excellent grades. It is worth noting that, it’s not the recruiting procedure only that determines if teacher education is likely to be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that after training, teachers will exhibit both characteristics important to effective teaching – quality and effectiveness. Teacher education can succeed if the teaching profession is held in high esteem and therefore able to attract the very best of applicants. Otherwise, aside from incentives put into place to attract applicants and aside from the measures which will be place in place to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.