By: Rebecca Ekpe
“Publish or perish”, was the underlying reason behind the Teachers Research Conference, but, a much greater need identified was; “Education in emergency situations; prospects and challenges’’, this therefore formed the driver for the gathering in Ashanti Region of the 46 Public Colleges of Education in Ghana.
They were joined by their affiliates/Mentoring Institutions across the country to dissect the issues confronting them and chart a way forward for Public Colleges of Education in Ghana.
The Colleges of Education and Social Education Research Journal Multi-disciplinary Research Conference held in June 2022 at Nusuta in the Sekyere Central District of Ashanti Region was not only an academic exercise for knowledge sharing, but, a convergence that gave an atmosphere for networking and socialization, with participants pledging to return to share the information gathered and also return next year to a bigger vision for the Teacher Educator in Public Colleges in Ghana.
“Education in emergency situations; prospects and challenges” is a theme that is inexhaustible, given the fact that emergencies are unplanned, however the experts believe that people can plan to withstand or combat the situations as they occur.
Covid-19 brought in its wake concerns, exposing the deficiencies with the systems that exist in Ghana.
The Education Sector was one of the hardest hit, as most institutions did not know how to transition from the traditional setting to online platforms.
Many of the lecturers admit that while the move was seamless for the developing countries, Ghana for that matter Public Teacher Training colleges were shocked, according to some of the Teachers, “internet facilities, ability to use computers and other online tools were a problem”
Clearly there has been a gap, a deficit that the Teachers acknowledged needed to be reversed, hence, the Research Conference showcased academic prospects, and also strategized to overcome the negative impact of emergencies, such as the Covid-19 or the Appiatse disaster which razed down a whole community and displaced school Ccildren.
Available statistics show that, “in 2017 alone, 75 million children and youth had their education disrupted, received poor-quality education or dropped out of school altogether”. Also, “conflict alone is one of the biggest barriers to education, keeping more than 25 million children out of school during 2016-17.”
The Covid-19 pandemic no doubt came to disrupt educational programmes and set gains made in disarray.
Professor Dr. Daniel Buor, with the Department of Geography and rural development, KNUST-Kumasi in a Keynote explained in detail and gave a picturesque view of the impact of disasters on teaching and learning.
“At the peak of Covid-19 over 500 million students were out of reach of remote learning; 91% of students worldwide were impacted by temporary school closures. By April 2020, close to 1.6 billion young students were out of school (World Economic Forum (WEF), 2022)”.
What could obviously not be ignored is the disruptive aspect of the impact of Covid-19 on education delivery.
“There were thus serious challenges to educational delivery. Emergencies can disrupt a child’s education for years. This means children miss out on vital learning and are deprived of a safe place to be when they are in very traumatic situations”, Professor Dr Buor posited.
Support for Teacher Training Colleges (TTEL)
During such a time, support for the cause of education cannot just pass as a mere gesture.
”A Conference of such nature demonstrates our shared vision towards promoting the socio-economic growth and development of this country”, says Akwasi-Addae-Addae Boahene, Chief Technical Advisor, T-TEL in a message on behalf of Robin Todd, Executive Director, T-TEL, who are supporting the Colleges of Education and Social Education Research Journal Multidisciplinary Research Conference.
The Teachers were impressed upon to inculcate in their training ”critical thinking, innovation and creativity”, in a bid to produce students that would respond to the needs of industry.
The Teachers however acknowledged that the Colleges were unprepared for the pandemic, but acknowledged T-TEL interventions in helping them, as the ”teachers had to learn to teach”. For the Teachers, ”T-TEL was the game changer”.
Various Teachers took turns to present their Research work to the audience for critique.
There were also Visual Arts Exhibition/presentations to give credence to the creativity and the Arts and its relevance to African Education and culture.
Chairperson of the Research Conference, Mrs. Doris Boakye-Ansah, also, Principal, of Mampong Technical College of Education, MAMPTEC was excited about the outcome of the Conference, because, according to her, the goals have been achieved.
Among the goals are;
1. To establish a network of researchers, leaders and policy makers who will be able to work
together to find creative solutions to the problems facing education in Ghana.
2. To encourage dialogue between teacher educationists and researchers in different
3. To encourage research and publication attitudes among teachers in Colleges of Education
4. To provide high level forum for Educational Practitioners to share their perspectives
5. To increase the visibility of Colleges of Education Teachers and their contributions to the public.
Even as the Colleges of Education have resolved to engage government more to ensure that they get a fair share to the national cake, the Colleges themselves believe in initiatives through collaboration, that would drive and propel the educational front and make their institutions more resilient in times of emergencies.