|Ghana: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 2000, 67 p.)|
|Chapter 2: Teacher Education in Ghana|
The 1987 educational reforms did not specifically target the teacher training institutions for reform. There were certain implications of the reform for teacher training, however, due to the expected changes in the curricula of the basic education level. For example, the objectives of the revised school curricula as a result of the reforms placed a lot of emphasis on hands-on activities and student-centred interactional approaches to teaching. Thus, in response to the changes that were taking place at the basic education level, the ODA12/British Council in collaboration with the Teacher Education Division of the Ministry of Education launched the Junior Secondary School Teacher Education Project (JuSSTEP). JuSSTEP was a four-year project (1989-1993) which targeted the 38 teacher training colleges in five subject areas (Mathematics, English, Science, Technical Skills and Education) for reform.
12 In 1997 the new British government changed the name of the Overseas Development Administration (ODA) to the Department for International Development (DFID), and expanded its remit.
The central thrust of JuSSTEP was to up-grade the professional competence of tutors and to disseminate ideas on appropriate teaching methodology through INSET workshops and tutor-supported instructional materials. The strategy to achieve this main objective was to introduce student-centred, interactive models of teaching in the five subject areas in all the 38 teacher-training colleges.
In 1993 the Teacher Education Division and the ODA carried out a study to assess the impact of the JuSSTEP reforms. In the executive summary of the report that was produced from the study of the JuSSTEP reforms, the conclusion drawn was that:
Tutors (were) positive about the new methodologies and in certain areas (such as) Mathematics, Science and Technical Skills (were) applying a more student-centred approach. However, the study reveals that the impact of JuSSTEP is limited by certain major structural constraints; the main ones being an overloaded curriculum, excessive student-tutor ratios exacerbated by insufficient tutors per subject, over-enrolment, high staff turnover, and lack of classroom facilities. These factors, combined with pressure to cover the syllabus and prepare for examinations, present an excessive workload in terms of teaching and assessment requirements and act as major impediments in the effective implementation and adoption of new methodologies in teacher education in the training colleges (GES/TED/ODA, 1993)
It is clear from this concluding statement that problems still persisted even after the reforms in basic teacher training. It would appear that not enough attention was given to certain critical aspects of the teacher training system, in order to make them more responsive to the kind of changes that were being introduced. For example, although innovative instructional/learning and assessment strategies were introduced at the classroom level, the teacher training programmes were still narrowly focused on timed written examinations, and this had the effect of reducing attention to performance-related skill development that had implications for improving classroom teaching practice. Thus, a key limiting factor of the impact of the JuSSTEP teacher training reforms was the effect an examination-oriented culture was having on teaching and learning decisions. There was also the lack of appropriate supportive management structures in the colleges to promote and support the changes to the development of teaching and learning skills of teacher trainees.
Thus the JuSSTEP reforms, which were intended to improve the competence of trained teachers in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning in basic schools, did not appear to have made the intended impact, due to poor reconceptualisation of the innovation, entrenched examinations-culture and inadequate management support structures.
One of the most serious problems with basic teacher training is the quality of instruction. A study by ODA/GES (1993:1) indicated that in the training colleges, approaches to teaching and learning have been largely teacher-centred, emphasising lectures, dictation and recall of notes.
This method of teaching has become an entrenched culture and change-resistant because new approaches are perceived as more time-consuming. Moreover, it favours the examination culture that requires regurgitation of textbook knowledge without sufficient demand on thinking and application skills.
Learning [in training colleges] was heavily examination-oriented. Students were largely the passive recipient of content and theory while methodology and practical teaching strategies were largely ignored. (ODA/GES, 1993:1)
In his 1997 study, Akyeampong finds access to, and use of, learning aids and materials in the TTCs to be often non-existent. The use of student-centred, interactional approaches was introduced in science, mathematics, English, technical skills and education. Their impact, however, has been minimal. Many teacher tutors are still not applying the activity-based teaching methodology advocated for the teacher education programmes. This seems to be because the tutors often see these methods as more demanding than the chalk and talk approach with which they are more familiar. Since students pass their examinations via the chalk and talk approach they see little reason to change their teaching methods. This is a typical case of examination requirements promoting the use of a certain kind of instructional approach.