One of the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of a functional human resource. The institution of strong educational structures leads to a culture populated by enlightened people, who can cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social transformation and its associated economic growth are achieved as the people apply the skills they learned while they certainly were in school. The acquisition of those skills is facilitated by one individual most of us ‘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 merely, the grade of education, but the overall performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to have the best of education, so they can consequently help train students in the best of ways. It is famous, that the grade of teachers and quality teaching are a few of the most crucial factors that shape the training and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a large extent, teachers are of very good quality, so as to manage to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That’s 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 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 virtually all countries in reaction to the quest of producing teachers who understand the present 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 without any teachers. In the U.S.A, how to market good quality teachers has been a problem of contention and, for yesteryear 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 already been instituted to ensure good quality teachers are produced and employed, issues concerning 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 in the 2nd part talks about some determinants of quality teaching.

2.0 TEACHER EDUCATION

Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to make quality teachers on her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to provide a complete teacher education program through the provision of initial teacher training and in-service training programs, that may produce competent teachers, who will 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 most striking difference between the programs provided by one other tertiary institution is that whilst the Universities teach, examine and award certificates with their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition whilst the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. Working out programs provided by these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to instruct in the schools. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs to be able 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 different from the course structure and content of the Center for Continue Education, University of Cape Coast and none of these two programs matches that of the CoEs, though all 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, however, not the same. Exactly the same may 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 one other 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 fundamental schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs whereby teachers are prepared are noticed to be good in situations where you can find shortages of teachers and more teachers ought to be trained in just a very short time. An average example may be the UTDBE program, stated earlier, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to make more teachers, as a result of shortage of teachers, has 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 concerned about is the alternative pathways whereby teacher education occur. The prime aim of most of the pathways would be to fast track teachers in to the teaching profession. This short-changed the necessary teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming classroom teachers. Those that favor alternative routes, like Teach for America (TFA), according to Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) have defended their alternative pathways by saying that even although the students are engaged in a short-period of pre-service training, the students are academically brilliant and so have the ability to learn a whole lot in a brief period. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where you can find usually shortages of teachers, there has to be a deliberate checking of alternative pathways to good candidates who’d done English, Mathematics and Science courses at the undergraduate level. None of those arguments meant for alternative pathways, hold for the alternative teacher education programs in Ghana, where in fact the academically brilliant students shun teaching because of reasons I’ll come to.

When the target is simply to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the background, somehow. Right at the selection stage, the alternative pathways ease the necessity for gaining entry into teacher education programs. When, like, the 2nd batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I can say with full confidence that entry requirements in to the CoEs weren’t adhered to. That which was emphasized was that, the applicant must certanly 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 had not 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 having regular DBE programs, I have realized, just recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with very good grades. english and maths tutor online This as I have learnt now has a huge influence on both teacher quality and teacher effectiveness. The fact is, teacher education programs in Ghana are not regarded as prestigious programs and so applicants with high grades do not decide for education programs. And so nearly all applicants who apply for teacher education programs have, relatively, lower grades. When 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’ attempt to attract more applicants. The universities too, lower their cut off point for education programs in order attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to say, as cash cows. Their want to earn money, force them to reduce admission standards, such as the CoEs have inked, to be able to increase their enrollments. The truth that, admission standards are internationally lowered to be able to achieve a target of increasing numbers. This weak recruitment practice or lowering of standards introduce a significant challenge to teacher education.

The Japanese have already been able to make teacher education and teaching prestigious and therefor attract students with high grades. You can argue that in Japan, 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 when they do all they can to choose higher grade student into teacher education programs. To them, the issues concerning the selection of teachers tend to be more important that the issues concerning recruitment. However, in western and African countries the issues concerning recruitment are prime. It’s so as 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 very good grades. It’s worth noting that, it is not the recruiting procedure only that determines if teacher education will undoubtedly be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that after training, teachers will exhibit both characteristics essential to effective teaching – quality and effectiveness. Teacher education can be effective if the teaching profession is held in high esteem and therefore able to attract the best of applicants. Otherwise, irrespective of incentives put into place to attract applicants and irrespective of the measures that will be place in place to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.