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close this bookGhana: A Baseline Study of the Teacher Education System (CIE, 2000, 67 p.)
close this folderChapter 2: Teacher Education in Ghana
View the document2.1 Introduction
View the document2.2 Historical Overview of the Development of Teacher Education
View the document2.3 Teacher Training College Curriculum
View the document2.4 Assessment Procedures
View the document2.5 Instructional Practices in the Teacher Training Colleges
View the document2.6 Conclusion

2.1 Introduction

This chapter examines the development of teacher education in Ghana. It describes the range of teacher education programmes and qualifications, focusing on the three-year post-secondary course run by Ghana’s 38 teacher training colleges (TTCs). The course is outlined in terms of curriculum, assessment procedures, and instructional practices.

2.2 Historical Overview of the Development of Teacher Education

Ghana’s first teacher training college opened in 1848 at Akropong-Akwapim by the Basel Mission. This started a tradition of teacher education founded by missions training teachers for their schools. Following independence in 1957 and a strong government commitment to developing human resources, more teacher training colleges were opened to cater for the increase in demand for teachers created by the expansion in school enrolment rates. The history of the development of teacher education in Ghana is a chequered one, often based on ad-hoc programs to meet emergency situations and needs of the education system. As the needs of basic education have changed over time, this required more institutional training to upgrade the level of teaching. Consequently, Ghana has built up a teaching corps comprising different categories of teachers. These are summarised below (and in Table 2.1, page 23):

Certificate ‘A’

The four-year teacher training course was established in 1930 for the training of good quality middle school leavers to teach in the primary and middle schools. As teaching was then a profession that was highly respected, it attracted those middle school leavers with the best qualifications.

Certificate ‘B’

In order to meet the increasing demand for more teachers at the primary level due to the rapid expansion of the education system, a two-year Certificate ‘B’, post-middle school teacher training programme was introduced in 1937.

Post-B Certificate ‘A’

As a result of further expansion of the education system, at the time of the Accelerated Development Plan in 1951, a new two-year programme was introduced for Certificate ‘B’ holders which enabled them to upgrade to a Post-‘B’ Certificate ‘A’ after a period of teaching experience in the classroom.

Certificate ‘A’ (Post-Secondary)

With the expansion of secondary education, in 1950 a new two-year programme was established for secondary school leavers to train them to teach in middle and secondary schools. These graduates were awarded the Certificate ‘A’.

Two-year Specialist/Three-year Diploma

These were teachers trained in specialised subject areas. The two-year programme covered specialisation in home science, physical education, music, and art. It was later up-graded to a three-year diploma course to embrace more subject areas such as English and mathematics. This programme was introduced in 1962, and was open to all Certificate ‘A’ teachers who had classroom experience.

All the programmes described above have been phased out and in their place is now the three-year Post-Secondary Teacher Training Programme leading to Certificate ‘A’ qualification. This programme was introduced in 1978 with the main purpose of improving the professional competence of trained teachers. Presently, there are 38 teacher-training colleges offering courses leading to the award of this certificate. Of the 38 colleges, seven train female teachers only, one is an all male technical TTC, and the remaining 30 are mixed. With the exception of the TTC in Accra, all others are residential. All 38 colleges prepare teachers for both primary and JSS levels. No distinction is made in the training offered by the colleges in terms of the level of school pupils to be taught, but plans to introduce college specialisation by educational level are under discussion currently.

In 1993, the Education Commission on Teacher Education recommended the setting up of only two levels of teacher education. These were:

· 4-year straight degree programme for graduates from senior secondary schools; and
· 2-year post-diploma degree programmes for practising teachers.

This recommendation has yet to be implemented.

Graduate Teachers

There are two types of full-time graduate teachers in Ghana. One group, with professional training, is classified as ‘professional graduate teachers’. The other group, without professional training, is referred to as ‘non-professional graduate teachers’. Graduate teachers are usually posted after their training to secondary schools and TTCs. Not all the training college tutors and secondary school teachers are degree holders, however. Some hold diplomas only.

Table 2.1: Teacher Education Programmes and Qualifications

Level

Duration of Course

Entry Level

Certificate Awarded

Level of teaching after certification

Post-secondary level

3 Years

Completion of Secondary School

Post-secondary Certificate ‘A’

Primary and junior secondary

Higher education (non-graduate level)

3 Years

Completion of Post-Secondary and having taught for 3 years

Diploma Certificate

Either post-secondary teacher training or senior secondary

Higher education (undergraduate level)

3 years or 2 years for post-diploma BEd

Teachers holding diploma certificate, or senior secondary leaving certificate*

BEd Degree

Either post secondary teacher training or, senior secondary school

Higher education (postgraduate level)

1 Year

Holders of graduate degrees e.g. BSc, BA

Post-Graduate Certificate in Education

Senior secondary schools or post-secondary teacher training colleges

* The entry qualification is higher than for the post-secondary level.

Table 2.1 shows the current system of teacher education in Ghana. Since this study is concerned with basic education, the discussion focuses on the three-year post-secondary programme leading to Certificate ‘A’ qualification.

2.3 Teacher Training College Curriculum

2.3.1 Structure and Process of Curriculum Development

The Professional Board of the Institute of Education at the University of Cape Coast develops curriculum guidelines for initial teacher training for basic education. These guidelines have to be approved by the Teacher Education Division (TED) of the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the Ministry of Education. The preparation of syllabi for the TTCs takes place in subject panels formed by the Teacher Education Directorate with representation from the Curriculum Research and Development Division (CRDD) of the GES. The syllabi are then sent to the Professional Board of the Institute of Education for comment and ultimate approval.

2.3.2. TTC Course Structure11

11 At the time of writing the weighting of the courses was being changed. The first year of training was for academic education only whilst the remaining two years was devoted to curriculum studies and methodology. This new system has just been introduced for the 1998/99 first year cohort; the second and third year trainees are still following the old curriculum structure.

The three-year TTC Certificate ‘A’ course for basic education is structured as follows: general education (30 per cent); academic education (30 per cent); and, professional studies (40 per cent). General education is comprised of eight ‘core’ subjects taught in all 38 TTCs. These are:

· basic mathematics
· English language
· basic science
· Ghanaian language
· physical education
· cultural studies
· education
· agricultural studies

Under the ‘academic education’ component of the programme, each student takes two elective subjects chosen from science-based subjects (group one) or vocational subjects (group two). Subject availability varies from college to college with some specialising in group one subjects, and others in group two subjects. The groups and corresponding subjects are shown below.

Group One

Group Two

· mathematics

· English literature

· agricultural science

· social studies

· science

· vocational skills

· technical skills

· French

· physical education

· life skills

Three of the 38 colleges offer group one elective subjects only; twenty-one offer group two elective subjects only; and 14 offer both group one and two electives.

Time allocation is in terms of the number of periods per week with each period consisting of a 40-minute lesson. Officially, all colleges provide 33 weeks of instruction per year. Colleges, however, have the flexibility to organise their own schedule, but are required to inform the Teacher Education Directorate. Time allocation per subject (both core and elective), per week across each year of study, is shown in Tables 2.2 and 2.3 below. For example, a teacher trainee taking mathematics as a elective subject has six periods of mathematics a week in years one and two, and ten periods a week in year three.

Table 2.2: Teacher Training College - Core Subject Time Allocation (per week)

Core Subject

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

mathematics

4

4

0

science

4

4

0

agricultural science

3

3

0

English language

5

5

5

education

6

6

6

cultural studies

3

3

0

physical education

2

2

0

Ghanaian language

3

3

0

Total

30

30

11

Table 2.3: Teacher Training College - Elective Subject Time Allocation (per week)

Elective Subjects

Students select two subjects from either
Groups 1 or 2



Year 1

Year 2

Year 3


mathematics

2

2

10


agricultural science

3

3

10


science

2

2

10

GROUP 1

technical skills

7

7

8


physical education

6

6

10


English literature

5

5

12


social studies

5

5

12


vocational skills

5

5

12

GROUP 2

life skills

5

5

12


French

7

7

12


During the second and third years, each subject area is divided into two parts: subject knowledge content and subject methodology. The education course is focused on issues related to the theory and practice of education, and does not relate to any specific subject area.

Teaching practice is officially expected to last eight weeks although the actual time spent appears to be much less, typically five to six weeks. This is largely due to the poor organisation of teaching practice in the schools (Akyeampong, 1997).

An analysis of three TTCs by Akyeampong (1997) revealed during the three year course only about one-third of the time is spent on activities directly related to classroom instruction and assessment (see Table 2.4). Moreover, this excludes time lost due to tutor absenteeism, tutor lateness, and other regular college disruptions. Consequently, the quality of instruction and assessment suffer.

Table 2.4: The Breakdown of Official Term Time in Three Colleges

Term

Official Term Time (weeks)

Approximate Contact Time for Teaching and Learning (weeks)

Examination Time (weeks)

Other Activities/Events (weeks)

1

12

Year 1:

10

Year 1:

0

Year 1:

0



Years 2&3:

6

Year 2:

0

Year 2&3: Teaching Practice (TP):

4







Orientation/Settling:

1







Sporting Events:

1

2

11

Year 1:

7

Year 1:

2

Year 1:

0



Year 2&3:

3

Year 2&3:

2

Years 2&3: TP:

4







Examination preparation:

1







Sporting Events:

1

3

10

Year 1:

7

Year 1:

2

Year 1: Exam Preparation:

1



Year 2&3:

4

Year 2&3:

5

Years 2&3:

0

Total

33

Year 1:

24

Year 1:

4

Year 1:

5



Year 2&3:

13

Year 2&3:

13

Years 2&3:

13

Source: Akyeampong, 1997

2.4 Assessment Procedures

The Institute of Education at the University of Cape Coast has sole responsibility for conducting examinations and certifying post-secondary teacher trainees. The Institute engages examiners to set questions and moderators to check them, and administers the examinations. Selected tutors from the training colleges mark the examination scripts at a central residential marking centre. An Award Committee of the Institute of Education, comprising chief examiners, representatives of college principals, the Director of Teacher Education, and Ghanaian National Association of Teachers (GNAT) officials reviews the results and makes recommendations to the Professional Board of the Institute of Education for approval. The examination constitutes 70 per cent of the overall marks awarded to teacher trainees, with the remaining 30 per cent from internal continuous assessment.

Each subject examination consists of two papers. Paper one focuses on subject knowledge and is subdivided into two sections. The first section is made up of short-structured questions, and multiple choice questions for some subjects. The second section of paper one also focuses on subject knowledge but requires more elaborate written responses. Paper two covers the subject application (or methodology). The sections are structured in a similar manner to paper one. Teaching practice (practicum) and ‘long essays’, in which students have to write on an approved topic related to teaching and learning, constitute separate examinable subjects. Students have to pass the teaching practice before their remaining subjects can be considered for assessment.

Candidates are required to obtain at least an average pass mark of 40 per cent in both papers before they are awarded a pass in the subject as a whole. Teaching practice is supervised by college tutors using a one to five grading scale that is related to specified competencies, skills and attitudes in teaching. There is some dissatisfaction with this mode of assessment because it is perceived as too subjective and unrelated to clearly articulated criteria.

It appears that very few students fail teaching practice and the long essay examination. Students who fail in more than two subjects, apart from the long essay and teaching practice, are deemed to have failed the entire examination. Only a few students fall into this category. Students who fail one or two subjects, apart from the long essay and teaching practice are made to resit and pass them before they are certified. All such students, however, are permitted to takeup teaching posts while preparing to re-sit the examination. Thus, all student trainees are guaranteed a teaching post after training irrespective of whether they pass the final examinations. Those who fail, however, receive the ‘untrained’ or pupil teacher salary that is less than that for the trained teacher, until they pass the resits.

Continuous assessment is conducted in each college and comprises 30 per cent of the total marks for each subject. Marks for continuous assessment are submitted to the Institute of Education and combined with marks from the external examinations to arrive at a final score. It is difficult to ascertain a correlation between continuous assessment and external examination marks in the absence of rigorous analysis. Theoretically, it can be argued that since tutors’ continuous assessment takes into account a much wider range of skills and knowledge, compared with that of external examinations, a moderate correlation can be expected. In practice, however, it appears that continuous assessment marks submitted by the training colleges tend to have a high mean and low standard deviation. In the absence of any system of moderation of continuous assessment marks, this is not unexpected.

The current method of assessing teacher trainees based on summative end-of-year assessment through final examinations moderated by an external agency only test students’ ability to demonstrate acceptable cognitive objectives. In other words, the current system of assessment for post-secondary teacher education may be lacking in construct-related validity due to the highly cognitive-based nature of the content of assessment.

The introduction of continuous assessment into the teacher training system in 1989 was seen as an attempt to ensure that the assessment of teacher trainees is not entirely focused on examinations. Continuous assessment was intended to provide an opportunity for college tutors to improve the link between training and assessment. There were no clear guidelines, however, as to the nature of the content of the continuous assessment. College tutors themselves were left to determine what tasks would be continually assessed.

A study by Akyeampong (1997) showed that the introduction of continuous assessment into the TTCs has not yielded the desired effect and results. The study revealed that:

1. Tutors’ continuous assessment practices gravitated towards external examination requirements and continuous assessment was perceived and implemented as supplementary rather than complementary to examinations. The study revealed that a major constraint to change is the political focus on summative assessment conditioned by the examination culture.

2. Many tutors and teacher trainees recognised the importance of continuous assessment for promoting professional learning and instruction. This was not, however, put into practice. Instead, it reflected commonly accepted theoretical knowledge about the function of continuous assessment. This problem seems to stem from poor conceptualisation of continuous assessment for teacher training.

3. Generally tutors made very little use of continuous assessment results for formative and professional development purposes. The main reason for this was due to the lack of will on the part of tutors to use continuous assessment in this way because of the increased workload this generated. Also, for some there was a lack of understanding of how the continuous assessment process and results could be used to promote teaching and learning outcomes.

4. Time available for assessing students on a more regular and systematic basis was limited. This problem had arisen because of the short college year resulting from extracurricular and examination activities that took up a considerable amount of term time. Tutors preferred to use the scarce time to teach in order to complete the syllabus before external examinations.

5. Institutional support for continuous assessment in terms of professional guidance for tutors was non-existent. Again, this seems to be because of the lack of proper orientation and inadequate training in the management of continuous assessment at the institutional level.

6. There was a lack of system for monitoring and moderating continuous assessment leading to uniformity of practice across colleges. The lack of a system for moderating continuous work, at either the internal or external level, also cast doubt on the reliability and validity of assessment results that contributed to teacher certification.

2.5 Instructional Practices in the Teacher Training Colleges

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.

2.6 Conclusion

This chapter has examined the development of teacher education in Ghana. It describes the three-year post-secondary course run by Ghana’s 38 teacher training colleges (TTCs), focusing on the curriculum, assessment procedures, and instructional practices. Although not explicitly targeted by the education reforms of 1987, attempts have been made to bring about change in initial teacher education to improve the quality of teaching and learning in schools. Most notably, these have included the introduction of student-centred, interactional approaches to teaching and learning in the colleges. This shift, however, has been constrained by the examination-oriented culture of the colleges and lack of appropriate supportive management structures.