One of the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of a practical 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 these were in school. The acquisition of those skills is facilitated by one individual most of us ‘teacher’ ;.Because of this, 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 only, the grade of education, but the overall performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to have the most effective of education, for them to consequently help train students in the most effective of ways. It is famous, that the grade of teachers and quality teaching are some of the main factors that shape the educational and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a sizable extent, teachers are of very good quality, to be able 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 for instance 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 response 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 without any teachers. In the U.S.A, how to promote top quality teachers has been an issue of contention and, for the past decade roughly, has been motivated, basically, through the techniques 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 been instituted to make sure top quality teachers are produced and employed, issues concerning the teacher and teaching quality remain of concern (Ogawa, Fujii & Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is therefore no joke anywhere. This article is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the 2nd part discusses some determinants of quality teaching.
2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to make quality teachers on her behalf 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 may produce competent teachers, who can help improve the potency 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, University of Cape Coast, Central University College and other tertiary institutions joined in. Probably the most striking difference involving the programs offered by the other tertiary institution is that while the Universities teach, examine and award certificates to 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 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 distinctive 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 they all award Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) after three 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, but not the same. The exact same may 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 various 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 by which teachers are prepared are seen to be good in situations where you will find shortages of teachers and more teachers ought to be trained inside a very short time. An average example is the UTDBE program, mentioned previously, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to make more teachers, due to shortage of teachers, has got the tendency of comprising quality.
As noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the factors that contribute 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 is to fast track teachers 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), in accordance with 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 capability to learn a whole lot in a short period. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where you will find usually shortages of teachers, there should be a deliberate setting up of alternative pathways to good candidates who had done English, Mathematics and Science courses at the undergraduate level. None of those arguments meant for alternative pathways, hold for the alternative teacher education programs in Ghana, where the academically brilliant students shun teaching due to reasons I shall come to.
Once the target is just 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 example, the 2nd batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I will say with confidence that entry requirements to the CoEs weren’t adhered to. online maths and english tuition The thing that was emphasized was that, the applicant must 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 did not matter. If this pathway had not been created, the CoEs would not have trained students who initially did not 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 have realized, recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with very good grades. This as I have learnt now has 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 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 have been dropped from C6 to D8 for West African Senior Secondary School Examination candidates.
This drop in standard could only be attributed to CoEs’ try to attract more applicants. The universities too, lower their stop point for education programs so as attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to express, as cash cows. Their want to make money, force them to reduce admission standards, such as the CoEs have inked, to be able to increase their enrollments. The truth 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 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 are not under any pressure to hire teachers. Their system won’t suffer should they do all they are able to to choose higher grade student into teacher education programs. To them, the difficulties concerning the choice of teachers tend to be more important that the difficulties concerning recruitment. However, in western and African countries the difficulties concerning recruitment are prime. It’s 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 do not attract students who have very good grades. It’s worth noting that, it is not the recruiting procedure only that determines whether teacher education will soon 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 most effective of applicants. Otherwise, aside from incentives put in place to attract applicants and aside from the measures that will be devote place to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.