One of the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of an operating human resource. The institution of strong educational structures leads to a culture populated by enlightened people, who is able to cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social transformation and its associated economic growth are achieved as the folks apply the skills they learned while these were in school. The acquisition of the skills is facilitated by one individual all of us ‘teacher’ ;.Because of this, nations seeking economic and social developments need not 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 only, the caliber of education, but the overall performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to get the most effective of education, so they can consequently help train students in the most effective of ways. It is famous, that the caliber of teachers and quality teaching are some of the main factors that shape the learning and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a sizable extent, teachers are of very good quality, in order to be able to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That’s why teacher quality is still a matter of concern, even, in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education of prime importance because of 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 make sure that quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to make sure that classrooms are not free from teachers. In the U.S.A, how to advertise good quality teachers has been a dilemma 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 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 associated with 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 next part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.
2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to produce quality teachers on her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to offer a whole teacher education program through the provision of initial teacher training and in-service training programs, that may produce competent teachers, who will help improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning that goes 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, tutors online math University of Cape Coast, Central University College and other tertiary institutions joined in. The absolute most striking difference between the programs offered by one other 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. Working out programs offered by 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 example, the course content for the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast is slightly distinctive from the course structure and content of the Center for Continue Education, University of Cape Coast and none of those two programs matches that of the CoEs, though they all 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, although not the same. 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 one other Universities and University Colleges. In effect although, same products attract same clients, the preparation of these products are done in different ways.
It is through these many programs that teachers are prepared for the fundamental schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs by which teachers are prepared are seen to be good in situations where you can find shortages of teachers and more teachers should be trained in just a very short time. An average example is the UTDBE program, stated earlier, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to produce more teachers, as a result of shortage of teachers, gets the tendency of comprising quality.
As noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the factors that contribute to the issues 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 many of the pathways is always to fast track teachers into the teaching profession. This short-changed the required 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 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 lot in a quick period. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where you can find usually shortages of teachers, there must be a deliberate opening up of alternative pathways to good candidates who had 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’ll come to.
When the target is merely to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the back ground, somehow. Right at the choice stage, the alternative pathways ease the necessity for gaining entry into teacher education programs. When, for instance, the next batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I can say with full confidence that entry requirements into the CoEs weren’t adhered to. That which 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 standard DBE program. However, it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.
Even with regular DBE programs, I’ve realized, just lately I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with very good grades. This as I’ve learnt now includes 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 don’t opt for education programs. And so the majority of 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 had been dropped from C6 to D8 for West African Senior Secondary School Examination candidates.
This drop in standard could only be caused by CoEs’ try to attract more applicants. The universities too, lower their stop point for education programs in order attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to say, as cash cows. Their want to earn money, force them to lower admission standards, just like the CoEs did, in order to increase their enrollments. The fact that, admission standards are internationally lowered in order to achieve a goal of increasing numbers. This weak recruitment practice or lowering of standards introduce a serious challenge to teacher education.
The Japanese have already been able to create teacher education and teaching prestigious and therefor attract students with high grades. It’s possible to argue that in Japan, the supply of 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 could to choose higher grade student into teacher education programs. In their mind, the problems associated with the choice of teachers are more critical that the problems associated with recruitment. However, in western and African countries the problems associated with 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 isn’t held in high esteem.
Teacher education programs therefore don’t attract students who’ve excellent grades. It is worth noting that, it’s not the recruiting procedure only that determines whether teacher education will undoubtedly be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that after training, teachers will exhibit the 2 characteristics important 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 most effective of applicants. Otherwise, regardless of incentives put in spot to attract applicants and regardless of the measures that’ll be devote spot to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.