Teacher Preparation: Ghana’s move for a new inspiring curriculum

Most education professionals in Ghana agree that the country has no clearly defined or nationally agreed philosophy or standards for teacher education.

Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang delivering her opening address at the forum
Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang delivering her opening address at the forum

The National Teaching Council has therefore been supported by the Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL), a Government of Ghana programme funded by UK aid, to develop National Teaching Standards for Pre Service Teacher Education.

Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang delivering her opening address at the forum
Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang delivering her opening address at the forum
These standards will form the basis for the curricula for teacher preparation and training, to better prepare teachers who will give Ghana’s schoolchildren the best possible education and chance for a brighter future.

Consequent to the development of the National Teaching Standards for Pre Service Teacher Education, the National Council of Tertiary Education (NCTE) has initiated a process of developing a National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework based on the National Teaching Standard for Pre Service Education. Two national stakeholder forums have so far been held to review the draft National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework. The meetings built consensus amongst stakeholders around the need for a new, broad Teacher Education Curriculum Framework, against which the current teacher education curricula used by teacher training institutions could be updated.

The stakeholders agreed that the new framework must incorporate all elements required to ensure student teachers receive the best possible preparation for their chosen profession, in alignment with the newly developed National Teacher Standards and the Ministry of Education’s vision for equipping young Ghanaians to play their part in the country’s social and economic development.

A Technical Committee has been set up to drive and guide the review process and discuss the key elements to be included in the framework, concentrating on the professional knowledge, skills and value dimension of teacher education.
The new framework should present a vision for the initial training of teachers, include the critical elements of teacher education as well as headline content for all teacher education programmes.
While these are yet to be finalised, it was agreed that a few key elements of the framework must ensure that:
• All new teachers meet the National Teachers’ Standards, and are prepared to teach key areas of the Basic School Curriculum

All future teacher education curricula based on the National Teacher Education Framework will ensure that teachers receive a high quality teacher education, delivered through subject and curriculum knowledge; pedagogic knowledge; strong Ghanaian and English literacy and supported Teaching Practice in schools.
• The content and pedagogic knowledge in tutor professional development and student teacher education are merged
Pedagogical skills should cut across all tutor competencies when educating student teachers, equipping them with a variety of teaching methods to support both generalist and specialist teaching. Emphasis should be placed on content knowledge, bringing together subjects and methodology to ensure better learning by student teachers. Due to children’s different developmental stages, the curriculum should include varied instructions for educating pupils at different levels.
• Student teachers should be prepared to instruct in Ghanaian languages
As language is the key to a good education we need teachers who are skilled in both Ghanaian and English languages. Making Ghanaian languages a core subject at Senior High School would help to fill the gap in language studies from junior school to tertiary.
• Demonstration schools show high quality teaching and learning and their activities are integrated into the curriculum
Demonstration schools are integral to preparing teachers for the real challenges of the classroom. They must be supported to improve their quality and be included as a core part of the curriculum for student teachers.
• Student teachers should be trained using equal and inclusive methods that represent Ghana’s diversity
Student teachers must be prepared to teach equally and inclusively in the classroom, with opportunities to teach in different contexts. They must be given the skills, knowledge and understanding to recognise and plan for social, cultural and linguistic differences in the children they teach.
• The profile and prestige of teachers should be raised to help close the gap between the standards and quality expected of Ghanaian teachers and the levels currently in schools
At the moment, Colleges of Education (CoEs) are not attracting top quality students. To address this, there is a suggestion to institute a tailor-made exam that tests the content knowledge, interests and initiatives of students.

Policy-makers should help increase awareness of the current situation and support efforts from teacher education stakeholders and institutions to raise the profile of being and becoming a teacher, so we ensure the right quality of candidates go into the profession.

• In-service teachers must be supported to incorporate mentoring of student teachers into their regular classroom duties.

Preparing in-service teachers as mentors is a rigorous process, leading to the creation of the Post Graduate Diploma in Mentoring in Universities across the country. In addition, mentorship could be incorporated into the Continuous Professional Development of teachers. Key people in the community could be identified to mentor student teachers and extra remuneration should be considered.

• The number of tutors should be high enough to accommodate student teacher enrolment in CoEs
The curriculum cannot be taught effectively if student teacher/tutor faculty ratios are beyond standards set by NCTE. Student teachers must receive pedagogical training themselves in managing large classes, to prepare them for different class sizes and environments in schools.

• Assessment and Continuous Professional Development (CPD) should motivate student teachers to learn more
Values, attitudes and beliefs should be incorporated into assessment processes and student teachers should be assessed on their performance over the 3-year period of study at colleges. Such assessment should cover practical skills.
These viewpoints on the curriculum framework were collated and summarized for the Technical Committee. A draft curriculum framework for teacher education was agreed at the event, which is pending approval from the National Teaching Council, National Council for Tertiary Education and finally by the Ministry of Education to make it a National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education. This is a major step in creating a curriculum for teachers in Ghana that will prepare them to inspire schoolchildren and set them on a path to a bright and prosperous future.

This article was written by the Communications & Learning Team of the Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL) in Ghana Programme, in consultation with T-TEL’s National Programme Manager. For any queries, please contact T-TEL at info@t-tel.org or visit
www.t-tel.org to find out more about the programme.

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