Among the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of an operating human resource. The institution of strong educational structures contributes to a culture populated by enlightened people, who is able to cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social transformation and its associated economic growth are achieved as the folks apply the skills they learned while these were in school. The acquisition of these skills is facilitated by one individual we all ‘teacher’ ;.For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments do not need to ignore teachers and their role in national development.
Teachers would be the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. The performance of teachers generally determines, not only, the quality of education, but the typical performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to obtain the most effective of education, for them to consequently help train students in the most effective of ways. It is famous, that the quality of teachers and quality teaching are some of the main factors that shape the educational and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a big extent, teachers are of very high quality, so as to be able to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That is why teacher quality continues to be a matter of concern, even, in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as for example Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education of prime importance because of the potential it needs to cause positive students’ achievements.
The structure of teacher education keeps changing in almost all countries in response to the quest of producing teachers who understand the existing needs of students or just the demand for teachers. The changes are attempts to make sure that quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to make sure that classrooms are not free from teachers. In the U.S.A, how to market top quality teachers has been a problem of contention and, for the past decade or so, has been motivated, basically, through the techniques prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished California Teachers, 2015). Even yet in Japan and other Eastern countries where there are many teachers than needed, and structures have now been instituted to make certain top quality teachers are produced and employed, issues relating to the teacher and teaching quality are still of concern (Ogawa, Fujii & Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is therefore no joke anywhere. This information is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the next part talks about some determinants of quality teaching.
2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to make quality teachers for her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to offer an entire teacher education program through the provision of initial teacher training and in-service training programs, which will produce competent teachers, who can help improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning that goes on in schools. The Initial teacher education program for Ghana’s basic school teachers was offered in Colleges of Education (CoE) only, until quite recently when, University of Education, University of Cape Coast, Central University College and other tertiary institutions joined in. The absolute most striking difference involving the programs made available from another tertiary institution is that whilst the Universities teach, examine and award certificates for their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition whilst the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. The training programs made available from these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to instruct in the schools. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs in order to ensure quality.
The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher education programs on the basis of the structure and content of the courses proposed by the institution. Hence, the courses run by various institutions differ in content and structure. For instance, the course content for the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast is slightly distinctive from the course structure and content of the Center for Continue Education, University of Cape Coast and none of those two programs matches that of the CoEs, though each of them award Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) after 36 months of training. The DBE and the Four-year Untrained Teacher’s Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programs run by the CoEs are only similar, although not the same. Exactly the same can be said of the Two-year Post-Diploma in Basic Education, Four-year Bachelor’s degree programs run by the University of Cape Coast, the University of Education, Winneba and another Universities and University Colleges. In effect although, same products attract same clients, the preparation of the merchandise are done in various ways.
It’s through these many programs that teachers are prepared for the essential schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs whereby teachers are prepared are seen to be good in situations where you will find shortages of teachers and more teachers should really be trained in just a very short time. An average example is the UTDBE program, mentioned previously, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to make more teachers, due to shortage of teachers, has got the tendency of comprising quality.
As noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the factors that subscribe to the issues of teacher education and teacher retention are varied and complex, but one factor that teacher educators are involved about is the alternative pathways whereby teacher education occur. The prime aim of many of the pathways is to fast track teachers to the teaching profession. This short-changed the mandatory teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming classroom teachers. Those who favor alternative routes, like Teach for America (TFA), in accordance with Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) have defended their alternative pathways by saying that even although students are engaged in a short-period of pre-service training, the students are academically brilliant and so have the ability to learn a great deal in a brief period. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where you will find usually shortages of teachers, there should be a deliberate opening of alternative pathways to good candidates who’d done English, Mathematics and Science courses at the undergraduate level. None of these arguments in support of alternative pathways, hold for the alternative teacher education programs in Ghana, where in actuality the academically brilliant students shun teaching because of reasons I’ll come to.
Once the target is merely to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the background, somehow. Right at the choice stage, the alternative pathways ease the necessity for gaining entry into teacher education programs. When, like, the next batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I will say with full confidence that entry requirements to the CoEs weren’t adhered to. That which was emphasized was that, the applicant should be a non-professional basic school teacher who has been engaged by the Ghana Education Service, and that the applicant holds a certificate above Basic Education Certificate Examination. The grades obtained didn’t matter. If this pathway hadn’t been created, the CoEs wouldn’t have trained students who initially didn’t qualify to enroll in the regular DBE program. However, it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.
Despite regular DBE programs, I have realized, recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with very high grades. This as I have learnt now includes a huge influence on both teacher quality and teacher effectiveness. Truth be told, teacher education programs in Ghana are not regarded as prestigious programs and so applicants with high grades do not go for education programs. And so many applicants who apply for teacher education programs have, relatively, lower grades. Once the entry requirement for CoEs’ DBE program for 2016/2017 academic year was published, I noticed the minimum entry grades had been dropped from C6 to D8 for West African Senior Secondary School Examination candidates.
This drop in standard could only be caused by CoEs’ try to attract more applicants. The universities too, lower their stop point for education programs so as attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to say, as cash cows. Their need to generate income, force them to lower admission standards, just like the CoEs have done, in order to increase their enrollments. The fact that, admission standards are internationally lowered in order to achieve a target of increasing numbers. This weak recruitment practice or lowering of standards introduce a serious challenge to teacher education.
The Japanese have now been able to make teacher education and teaching prestigious and therefor attract students with high grades. One may argue that in Japan tuition for maths, the way to obtain teachers far exceeds the demand and so authorities are not under any pressure to hire teachers. Their system won’t suffer if they do all they could to choose higher grade student into teacher education programs. In their mind, the difficulties relating to the choice of teachers tend to be more important that the difficulties relating to recruitment. However, in western and African countries the difficulties relating to recruitment are prime. It’s so since the demand for teachers far outweighs that of supply. Western and African countries have difficulties recruiting teachers because teachers and the teaching profession is not held in high esteem.
Teacher education programs therefore do not attract students who’ve great grades. It’s worth noting that, it’s not the recruiting procedure only that determines whether teacher education will undoubtedly be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that after training, teachers will exhibit the 2 characteristics important to effective teaching – quality and effectiveness. Teacher education can work if the teaching profession is held in high esteem and therefore able to attract the most effective of applicants. Otherwise, irrespective of incentives placed into destination for a attract applicants and irrespective of the measures which will be devote destination for a strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.