Teacher Education and Teacher Quality
One of the sectors that foster national development is education by ensuring the result of a functional human resource. The institution of strong educational structures leads to a society populated by enlightened people who can cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social change and its associated economic growth are achieved as the people apply the skills they learned while in school. The acquisition of these skills is facilitated by one individual we all ‘teacher’. For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments need not ignore teachers and their role in national development.
Teachers are the primary factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. Teachers’ performance generally determines the quality of education and the general performance of the students they train. Therefore, the teachers themselves ought to get the best education to help prepare students in the best ways. It is known that the quality of teachers and quality teaching are some of the most critical factors that shape the learning and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a large extent, teachers are of exceptionally high quality to be able to manage classrooms and facilitate learning properly. That is why teacher quality is still a concern, even in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education is of prime importance because of its potential to cause positive students’ achievements.
The structure of teacher education keeps changing in almost all countries in response to the quest to produce teachers who understand students’ current needs or just the demand for teachers. The changes are attempts to ensure that quality teachers are paid and sometimes ensure that classrooms are not free of teachers. In the U.S.A, promoting high-quality teachers has been an issue of contention and, for the past decade or so, has been motivated, basically, through the methods prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished California Teachers, 2015). Even in Japan and other Eastern countries, where more teachers are needed, and structures have been instituted to ensure high-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 article is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system, and the second part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.
2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to produce quality teachers for her primary school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to provide a complete teacher education program by providing initial teacher training and in-service training programs that will produce competent teachers who will help improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning in schools. The Initial teacher education program for Ghana’s primary school teachers was offered in Colleges of Education (CoE) only, until quite recently when the University of Education, University of Cape Coast, Central University College, and other tertiary institutions joined in. The most striking difference between the programs offered by the other tertiary institution is that while the Universities teach, examine, and award certificates to their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition. In contrast, the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and awards certificates. The training programs offered by these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to teach in the schools. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs to ensure quality.
The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher education programs based on the structure and content of the courses proposed by the institution. Hence, the systems run by various institutions differ in content and design. For example, the course content for the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast, is slightly different from the course structure and content of the Center for Continue Education, the University of Cape Coast. None of these two programs matches the CoEs, though they all award Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) after three years of training. The DBE and the Four-year Untrained Teacher’s Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programs run by the CoEs are only similar, but not the same. 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 the other Universities and University Colleges. In effect, even though, same products attract the same clients, the preparation of the products are done in different ways Our Planetary.
Through these many programs, teachers are prepared for primary schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways or programs through which teachers are prepared are seen to be good in situations where there are shortages, and more teachers ought to be trained quickly. A typical example is the UTDBE program mentioned above, designed to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to produce more teachers tends to comprise quality because of the shortage of teachers.
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