University of Sussex
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Distance education for teacher education in Ghana: an investigation into untrained teachers' experiences

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posted on 2023-06-08, 20:54 authored by Philip Victor Akoto
Ghana, like many developing countries, has fewer trained, qualified teachers than the number the country needs to realise the Education For All goals of quality education by 2015. The failure of Ghana’s teacher education sector to turn out sufficient numbers of qualified trained teachers is as a result of numerous factors including existing Colleges of Education (CoEs) not having enough facilities to train the high number of untrained teachers (UTs) through the traditional campus-based model and difficulty of access to teacher education places. In response to these limitations, the Teacher Education Division, with the support of the CoEs, adopted an alternative pathway for initial teacher preparation known as Untrained Teachers’ Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) in the latter part of 2004. This model of initial teacher preparation differs from the traditional campus-based model as the training is largely non-residential with limited provision of face-to-face meetings. After four years of implementation, key stakeholders, notably the top hierarchy of Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education, were calling for the extension of the programme by way of admitting another cohort of students. However, it was clear from my perspective as a senior professional involved in Teacher Education and with seven years of professional knowledge and experience in Distance Teacher Education that there was a lack of in-depth, theoretically-informed research into the programme, particularly with respect to the views of UTs themselves. The study was therefore designed using an in-depth case study approach to discover the views of UT participants on how the UTDBE had influenced their professional development and the quality of their teaching and learning, with a particular interest in the view of six UTs who were the direct beneficiaries of the programme. The research methods adopted were predominantly qualitative, and included observations and analysis of documents, a series of interviews with selected UTs, including focus groups and one-on-one interviews in which UTs reflected on videos they had taken of their practice. The findings suggest the potential of the UTDBE as a source for teachers (especially, those in underserved communities and locations) to learn, develop, update their skills and knowledge and improve instructional practices consistent with learner-centred approaches and professional practices. In addition, the opportunity that the UTDBE offers UTs to teach as classroom teachers while completing their professional programmes seems to have given them the chance to at least integrate and relate theoretical knowledge and experiences from CoEs to the practical realities in the classrooms and schools. However, the data indicated a number of challenges facing the UTDBE programme which undoubtedly affected the extent to which it promoted professional and personal development and learner-centred practices. These included (i) inability of the programme to take advantage of professional learning experiences that might be possible ICTs were introduced (ii) weak district, school and college collaboration (iii) the difficulties and complexities in managing relations between UTs and mentors (iv) tutoring during residential face-to-face meeting devoted to large group lectures (v) the over-loaded nature of course content and the difficulty and loaded nature of the content of some modules (vi) inability of UTs to make maximum use of college facilities (vii) other mechanisms of professional development such as cluster meetings and lesson observation not being used to their full potential (viii) largely non-recognition of the ‘wisdom of practice’ of UTs and (ix) tensions in expectations between the different communities of practice of the different contexts of training and practice. The thesis therefore makes an important contribution to our knowledge about the development of alternative forms of teacher education in such contexts.


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