|Learning to Teach in Ghana: An Evaluation of Curriculum Delivery (CIE, 2000, 51 p.)|
|Chapter 3: Profile of Exiting Teacher Trainees|
In any discussion of learning to teach it is important to bring up the issue of "who is doing the learning" (Feiman-Nemser & Remillard, 1996). Who prospective teachers are in terms of their background characteristics and experiences is important for understanding the domains of experience they bring, which could be useful for their training. Often, this is overlooked or trivialised in the whole debate about models of teacher education.
The ages of the student teachers fall within the range of 18 and 34 years with a large proportion of them (68.3%) between 22 and 30 years. About 31% of the student teachers whose ages are between 18 and 21 years must have started primary schooling at the minimum age of 6 years, had a continuous schooling and entered TTC by ages 16 - 19 years. Only 1% are over 30 years old.
The majority of the students are Akans (84%) and speak the Akan dialects at home (85.7%). Akans constitute the predominant ethnic group in Ghana and generally represent people in the central and southern part of the country. The colleges used in this study fall within this geographical catchment area. This result indicates that the four selected TTCs cater mostly for the people in the localities in which they are sited. 3% of the student teachers indicated that they use English Language as the medium of communication at home.
Almost all the students are Christians (99%). Only two Moslems and one Rastafarian are among the sample. The results further indicate that about 58% of the student teachers belong to the traditional churches, namely Methodist (24%), Presbyterian (21%), Catholic (12%) and Anglican (0.7%). 2% of the students attend the Salvation Army and Baptist churches. Pentecostal church members are about 31%.
The majority of the student teachers received their primary education either in cities (36%) or in a big town (25%). Thus, 61% received their early education in urban communities. A minority, (39%), had their education in small towns (27%) or villages (12%). This information has implications for the type of family life background and early schooling experiences the student teachers enter training with. Limited exposure to rural living has implications for posting policy, orientation and induction programmes during teacher education. Since student teachers are more likely to be posted to rural communities to begin their teaching career, how trainees with a predominantly urban early school experience are prepared to teach in predominantly rural communities is an issue that needs consideration in the training process. A study by Hedges (2000) examined the importance of posting in becoming a teacher in Ghana, and revealed a profound fear among newly qualified teachers of the consequences of teaching in rural communities. This highlights the more modern outlook of many prospective teachers in Ghana who therefore may find it difficult to understand the social needs of learners from rural communities and how to meet them. Such teachers may also not stay long in these communities because of the difficulties of fitting in. Obviously this is not an issue for training alone, but even more important for education policy makers.
78% of the student teachers are products of the new educational system (i.e.JSS-SSS graduates) and 22% products of the old education system, which means they went through the old middle school and secondary school system. Of the 64 students who are O/L or GCE holders, 86% spent the minimum 5 years aat the secondary school and 14% spent 7-8 years.
Analysis of the student teachers' entering grade characteristics suggests that the TTCs admit students with very weak grades, with likely implications for their academic performance at the college level and their teaching performance at the basic level after training. The weak subject knowledge background evidenced from their grades is an added constraint on the starting points of initial training, as time and energy may be needed to improve the student teachers' content knowledge, before they can guide learning in that subject.
About 76% of the student teachers had weak senior secondary exit grades of D and E or 5 and 6 in English. In mathematics the percentage was 53%. Only about 6% and 24% respectively obtained grades of A and B or 1, 2 and 3 in English and Mathematics. The number of years elapsing before entering teacher training is further evidence, either that teacher training is not an immediate choice after secondary education, or that several attempts are made by some to improve their grades before qualifying for teacher training. In all about 47% had to wait between 1 to 4 years before gaining admission into a teacher training college, whilst 48% gained admission into training college immediately after their senior secondary education. The remaining 5% and 3.4% of the students made their grades in English and Mathematics respectively between 1989 and 1992. These students might have stayed at home for so long either because they had not decided early to train to be teachers or might have been unsuccessful in several attempts to enter TTCs.