NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE NEED TO PAY CRITICAL ATTENTION TO MODERNIZING TEACHER EDUCATION TO MEET CURRENT NEEDS OF SOCIETY.
In an era when quality education is a concern for education focused international organisations and dominates national debates, teacher quality must equally be a priority. The central role of the teacher requires quality teacher education to properly position them to help in achieving overall educational agenda. It is therefore commendable that government has decided to implement the Colleges of Education Act, Act 847, which was passed in 2012 to give legal backing to the new status of the training institutions. By that Act, Colleges of Education have been placed under the National Council for Tertiary Education the agency responsible for the regulation of tertiary education institutions in Ghana.
With the upgrade of the training institutions to university Colleges a first degree will be the minimum requirement for teaching at any level of our education. Over the past forty years, teacher education in Ghana has gone through a lot of changes. The modifications were as a result of policy changes which were supposedly aimed at producing well trained teachers to meet the educational needs of the country at various times.
These changes have resulted in the production of different cohort of teachers with different types of certificates. Teacher Training Colleges; Colleges of Education or otherwise now to be known as University Colleges, initially offered 2-year Post Middle School Certificate ‘B’ program, followed by a 4-year Post Middle School Certificate ‘A’ programs. The 2-year program was later extended to a 3-year program which ran alongside the 4-year Certificate ‘A’ programs until it was curtailed in the 1980s. In the 2000s, following a comprehensive review of the Ghanaian educational system, government published a White Paper declaring that all Teacher Training Colleges will be upgraded into Diploma awarding institutions.
This did not take effect until 2008 when all 38 Colleges were re-designated as Colleges of Education. As has been the trend in rolling out educational policies, inadequate preparation and foresight have delayed the start of the 2018/2019 University College calendar which was designated to start on 1st October but has been rescheduled to start on the 29th of October due to unexplained circumstances. Since successive governments are in a hurry to make political gains from implementing their policies things are done haphazardly. There is a school of thought that teachers graduate to teach exactly the way they are taught. If this is true, then there is more work to be done. The new modern system of teaching has gone beyond the era of “A for Apple; B for ball” to mention but a few.
Today, teaching has been transformed to the degree where the teacher must find ways and means to help each and every student unlock their potential in life. This agenda can certainly not be realised if we continue the orthodox method of packing a group of pupils into one classroom and forcing them to learn whatever has been written down. Governments both past and present have shown little commitment in improving classroom conditions which are very critical to the teaching and learning process. Surely, teacher qualification cannot be underestimated in the delivery of quality education.
Similarly, the importance of teaching aids should not be deemphasised. The question of what knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills teachers should possess is a subject of debateThis intervention comes on the back of calls by stakeholders for the Education Ministry to change the current theoretical teaching approach. Some colleges of education have already started taking steps to facilitate the smooth running of the new curriculum with the aid of the ‘Challenge Fund’, a government aid package, under the Transformation Teacher Education and Learning programme, a four-year government Programme financed by the UK Aid with 17 million pounds for its implementation.
According to the program, once student teachers have completed their four-year bachelors of education degree, they will then spend one-year teaching in basic schools, employed by GES before they will receive their license to practice and achieve qualified teacher status. Those training to teach in rural and remote areas face different challenges from those who teach in urban centres. Therefore, a different approach is needed for those who aspire to teach in rural and remote areas.
It therefore is vital that the State pays attention to our teachers and their needs both in their training, line of duty and in their personal lives.
This is because it is only a crop of well trained; adequately motivated and most importantly fully equipped teachers that can help deliver the educated and skilled workforce the nation requires to transform the economy. “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher.”
As the University Colleges resume after the long and preventable delay, let us forge in unity and make our nation’s education to be as malleable as ever so as to contain useful modifications on its structure, content and management for it to keep up with changing trends.
Long live teaching and those who sacrifice to do it.
BY ELORM KPEDATOR A TEACHER AT TOKUROANO M/A PRIMARY “A” IN THE KRACHI EAST MUNICIPAL.