1 . 0 INTRODUCTION
One of the sectors which fosters national development is education and learning by ensuring the development of a functional human being resource. The institution of strong educational structures leads to a modern society populated by enlightened people, who are able to cause positive economic progress plus social transformation. A Positive social change and its associated economic growth are usually achieved as the people apply the skills they learned while they were at 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 educators and their role in national development.
Teachers are the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning.
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The performance of teachers generally determines, not only, the quality of education, however the general performance of the students these people train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to get the best of education, so they can subsequently help train students in the most of ways. It is known, that the high quality of teachers and quality training are some of the most important factors that shape the learning and social and academic growth of students. Quality coaching will ensure, to a large extent, educators are of very high quality, so as to have the ability to properly manage classrooms and help learning. That is why teacher quality is still a matter of concern, even, in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as Trends in Mathematics and Technology Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education of prime importance due to the potential it has to cause good students’ achievements.
The structure of teacher education keeps changing within almost all countries in response to the mission of producing teachers who be familiar with current needs of students or simply the demand for teachers. The particular changes are attempts to ensure that quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to ensure that classrooms are not free from teachers. In the U. S. A, how to promote high quality teachers continues to be an issue of contention and, within the past decade or so, has been motivated, essentially, through the methods prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished Ca Teachers, 2015). Even in Japan and other Eastern countries where there are more instructors than needed, and structures happen to be instituted to ensure high quality teachers are usually produced and employed, issues in relation to the teacher and teaching high quality are still of concern (Ogawa, Fujii and Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is definitely therefore no joke anywhere. This article is within two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the second part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.
2 . 0 TEACHER EDUCATION
Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to produce quality educators for her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s purpose of teacher education is to provide a total teacher education program through the supply of initial teacher training plus in-service training programs, that will generate competent teachers, who will help improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning that will goes on in schools. The Initial instructor education program for Ghana’s basic school teachers was offered in Colleges of Education (CoE) only, until very recently when, University of Education and learning, University of Cape Coast, Main 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 for their students, the Colleges of Education and learning offer tuition while the University associated with Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. The training programs offered by these establishments are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to teach in the universities. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs in order to ensure quality.
The National Accreditation Table accredits teacher education programs based on the structure and content of the programs proposed by the institution. Hence, the particular courses run by various institutions differ in content and structure. For example , the course content for the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast is slightly not the same as the course structure and content material of the Center for Continue Education, University of Cape Coast plus none of these two programs matches that of the CoEs, though they all prize Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) after three years of training. The particular 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 level programs run by the University of Cape Coast, the University of Education, Winneba and the other Universities and University Colleges. In effect despite the fact that, same products attract same customers, the preparation of the products are done in different ways.
It is through these many programs that teachers are ready for the basic schools – through nursery to senior high educational institutions. Alternative pathways, or programs through which teachers are prepared are seen to be great in situations where there are disadvantages of teachers and more teachers should be trained within a very short time. An average example is the UTDBE program, mentioned above, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to produce more teachers, because of shortage of teachers, has the tendency of comprising quality.
Since noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the elements that contribute to the problems of instructor education and teacher retention are varied and complex, but one factor that teacher educators are concerned about is the alternative pathways by which teacher education occur. The prime aim of many of the pathways is to fast track educators into the teaching profession. This short-changed the necessary teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming class room teachers. Those who favor alternative routes, like Teach for America (TFA), according to Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) have defended their particular alternative pathways by saying that however the students are engaged in a short-period of pre-service training, the learners are academically brilliant and so possess the capacity to learn a lot in a short time. Others argue that in subjects such as English, Science and mathematics high are usually shortages of teachers, there must be a deliberate opening up of alternative pathways to good candidates that had done English, Mathematics plus 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 the academically brilliant students shun teaching due to reasons I shall visit.
When the target is just to fill up vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated towards the background, somehow. Right at the selection phase, the alternative pathways ease the requirement for getting entry into teacher education programs. When, for example , the second batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I could say with confidence that entry specifications into the CoEs were not adhered to. That which was emphasized was that, the applicant must 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 levels obtained did not matter. If this path had not been created, the CoEs would not have trained students who initially did not qualify to enroll in the regular DBE program. However , it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.
Even with regular DBE programs, I have realized, just recently I must say, that CoEs in, specific, are not attracting the candidates with very high grades. This as I possess learnt now has a huge impact on both teacher quality and instructor effectiveness. The fact is, teacher education programs in Ghana are not regarded as prestigious programs and so applicants with high grades do not opt for education programs. And so the majority of applicants who make an application for teacher education programs have, fairly, lower grades. When the entry requirement of 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 Supplementary School Examination candidates. This drop in standard could only end up being attributed to CoEs’ attempt to attract more applicants. The universities too, reduced their cut off point for schooling programs so as attract more applicants. The universities as alleged simply by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to say, because cash cows. Their desire to earn money, force them to lower admission criteria, like the CoEs have done, in order to enhance their enrollments. The fact that, admission standards are internationally lowered in order to achieve a goal of increasing numbers. This weak recruitment practice or lowering of criteria introduce a serious challenge to instructor education.
The Japanese have been able to create teacher education and teaching renowned and therefor attract students with high grades. One may argue that in Japan, the supply of teachers considerably exceeds the demand and so government bodies are not under any pressure to employ teachers. Their system won’t experience if they do all they can to choose higher grade student into instructor education programs. To them, the issues in relation to the selection of teachers are more important that the problems relating to recruitment. However , in traditional western and African countries the issues in relation to recruitment are prime. It is therefore because the demand for teachers considerably outweighs that of supply. Western plus African countries have difficulties recruiting teachers because teachers and the training profession is not held in higher esteem. Teacher education programs as a result do not attract students who have excellent grades. It is worth noting that will, it is not the recruiting procedure just that determines whether or not teacher education will be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that right after training, teachers will exhibit the two characteristics essential to effective teaching : quality and effectiveness. Teacher education and learning can be effective if the teaching career is held in high confidence and therefore able to attract the best of applicants. Otherwise, irrespective of incentives implement to attract applicants and irrespective of the measures that will be put in place to strengthen teacher education, teacher training programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.
In order to strengthen teacher planning, there is the need for teacher preparation applications to provide good training during the preliminary teacher training stage, and provide plus sustain support during the first few years after the teachers have been employed. This is why Lumpe (2007) supports the idea that pre-service teacher education programs should assure teachers have gained a good knowledge of effective teaching strategies. Methodology classes therefore should center on effective teaching strategies. Irrespective of the pathway the training program takes, the program must be organized such that trainees gain knowledge about pedagogy, besides the knowledge of subject matter. They should buy enough exposure to practical classroom experience like the on-campus and off-campus training practice. Whether or not there is the need to fill up vacancies in the classroom due to the high teacher attrition, many countries encounter, teacher preparation programs should purpose at producing quality and effective teacher and not just filling vacancies.
three or more. 0 DETERMINANTS OF TEACHER QUALITY
Teacher quality has such tremendous influence on students’ learning. Those who have been in the teaching business can agree that teacher quality is usually central to education reform initiatives. Priagula, Agam & Solmon (2007) described teacher quality as an important in-school factor that impact significantly on students’ learning. Quality instructors have positive impact on the success of students. Where the students have quality plus effective teachers the students create learning gains while those with inadequate teachers show declines. With respect to the class room teacher, teacher quality is a continuous process of doing self-assessment so as to have got professional development and a self-renewal, to be able to enhance teaching. For the teacher mentor, an effective or quality teacher any who has a good subject-matter and pedagogy knowledge, which the he/she can build upon.
Outstanding teachers possess plus exhibit many exemplary qualities. They have got the skills, subject matter, and pedagogy to achieve every child. They help provide their students with the knowledge plus breadth of awareness to make sound and independent judgments. Three determinants associated with teacher quality will be considered here. They are; pedagogical knowledge, subject-matter content knowledge and experience.