Among the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of a functional human resource. The institution of strong educational structures results in a community 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 the people apply the skills they learned while they certainly were in school. The acquisition of those skills is facilitated by one individual we all ‘teacher’ ;.For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments do not need to ignore teachers and their role in national development.
Teachers would be the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. The performance of teachers generally determines, not just, the quality of education, but the general performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to obtain the most effective of education, so they can in turn help train students in the most effective of ways. It is famous, that the quality of teachers and quality teaching are a few 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 very good quality, so as to manage 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). In 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 nearly all countries in a reaction to the quest of producing teachers who understand the current needs of students or simply 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 of teachers. In the U.S.A, how to advertise good quality teachers has been a problem of contention and, for days gone by decade roughly, has been motivated, basically, through the methods 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 make certain good quality teachers are produced and employed, issues concerning the teacher and teaching quality continue to be of concern (Ogawa, Fujii & Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is therefore no joke anywhere. This information is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the 2nd part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.
2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to make quality teachers for her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to supply a whole 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 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, University of Cape Coast, Central University College and other tertiary institutions joined in. The most striking difference between the programs provided by one other tertiary institution is that as the Universities teach, examine and award certificates with their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition as the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. The training programs provided by these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to teach 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 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 just similar, however, 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 one other Universities and University Colleges. In effect although, 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 fundamental schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs whereby teachers are prepared are noticed to be good in situations where there are shortages of teachers and more teachers should be trained within a very short time. An average example may be the UTDBE program, stated earlier, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to make more teachers, as a result of shortage of teachers, has the tendency of comprising quality.
As noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the factors that subscribe 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 whereby 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 mandatory teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming classroom teachers. Those 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 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. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where there are 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 alternative teacher education programs in Ghana, where the academically brilliant students shun teaching due to reasons I shall come to.
Once the target is simply to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the backdrop, somehow. Right at the selection stage, the alternative pathways ease the necessity for gaining entry into teacher education programs. tutors online math When, like, the 2nd batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I will say with confidence that entry requirements into the CoEs were not adhered to. 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 regular DBE program. However, it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.
Despite having regular DBE programs, I’ve realized, just recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with very good 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 don’t opt for education programs. And so nearly all 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 stop 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 want to make money, force them to lower admission standards, such as the CoEs have done, in order to increase their enrollments. The truth 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 significant 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. To them, the problems concerning the selection of teachers are far more critical that the problems concerning recruitment. However, in western and African countries the problems 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 don’t attract students who have excellent grades. It’s worth noting that, it’s not the recruiting procedure only that determines whether or not teacher education will soon be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that if training, teachers will exhibit both characteristics essential to effective teaching – quality and effectiveness. Teacher education can be effective if the teaching profession is held in high esteem and therefore in a position to attract the most effective of applicants. Otherwise, irrespective of incentives placed into place to attract applicants and irrespective of the measures that will be put in place to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.