Lambussie District, in the Upper West Region of Ghana, received a number of important visitors on 19thJanuary 2023 when staff from the Ministry of Education (MoE), Ghana Education Service (GES), Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC), National Service Scheme (NSS), the National Schools Inspectorate Authority (NaSIA) and Transforming Teaching, Education & Learning (T-TEL) spent the day visiting 16 basic schools in the district.
These visitors included such distinguished educationists as Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah (Board Chair of T-TEL), Patty Assan (GES’s Director of Schools and Instructions), Professor Mohammed Salifu (Director-General of GTEC), Nana Baffour Awuah (MoE’s Director of Pre-Tertiary Education) and Michael Yaw Acheampong (NaSIA’s Deputy Inspector General).
Mr. J.B.Kulah, District Director of Education, Lambussie (middle) with Prof. Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, T-TEL’s Board Chair (third from left) together with members of the District Education Office (DEO) and T-TEL during a visit to the DEO and some schools in Lambussie
Since April 2022 Lambussie is one of three districts in Ghana which has been participating in the Ministry of Education’s Communities of Excellence Programme, implemented by GES and T-TEL with funding from the Jacobs Foundation. January’s visits, facilitated by GES’s Upper West Regional Education Office (REO) and the Lambussie District Education Office (DEO) were used to observe classroom teaching and Professional Learning Community (PLC) sessions and enabled the teams to see at first hand the efforts the district is making to enable all learners to fulfill their potential.
Ms. Patty Assan, Director of Schools and Instructions, GES together with Prof. Jonathan Fletcher, Key Advisor for Teaching and Learning Partnerships, T-TEL arriving at a school to observe classroom lessons and PLC session
The 64 participants were split into teams of four with each team visiting one of 16 basic schools. Each group was accompanied by a School Improvement Support Officer (SISO) or Schedule Officer from the DEO.
The schools visited were
- Lambussie DA Basic
- Lambussie Tl Basic
- Piina RC Basic
- Busigya DA Basic
- Kohuo DA Basic
- Kanguol RC Primary
- Karni DA Basic
- Kpare RC Basic
- Kulkani DA Basic
- Suke DA Basic
- Zumara Basic
- Kadiligor DA Primary
- Bilaw DA Basic
- Nabaala RC Basic
- Kokya RC Basic
- Sentu RC Basic
Each team arrived at their respective school in the morning, enabling them to observe lessons before participating in PLC sessions which take place in Lambussie every Thursday afternoon. Reflective sessions were held after the PLC sessions and lesson observations so that teams, teachers and DEO staff could share experiences and provide advice to improve teaching and learning.
Group photo with teachers at Suke DA Basic
The teams observed a number of good practices in the basic schools. Ms. Grace Ceaser Agbasi, the Headteacher at Kanguol RC Primary, said she brings all her learners together by finding a common activity they can enjoy. After that, she divides them into groups based on their learning abilities and provides individual assistance. This approach helps them to express themselves and improve their communication and collaboration skills.
The teams were also impressed with the pedagogy and techniques used by those teachers who have graduated from Colleges of Education in recent years. These teachers generally demonstrated high levels of adherence to the National Teachers’ Standards (NTS).
Ms. Grace Ceaser Agbasi with learners during an outdoor learning at Kanguol RC Primary
Despite these good practices, teams also observed several challenges including the lack of facilities and resources in some schools and the fact that a number of teachers did not have a strong knowledge of either Sisaala or Dagaare, the two most common languages in Lambussie District.
Whilst it is clear that the district, supported by the Communities of Excellence Programme, has gone some way to address their resourcing challenges, more support is still required from partners, communities and philanthropists to ensure that all children have an equitable opportunity to learn.
Professional Learning Community (PLC) Sessions for Professional Development
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) provide opportunities for teachers to address challenges in their lesson delivery and collectively improve their teaching and learning. As they take place each week within schools they provide a cost-effective structured and sustainable means of ensuring that teachers understand the new curriculum and the National Teachers’ Standards (NTS).
The Communities of Excellence Programme has seen GES and NTC introduce structured PLC Handbooks to support basic schools to conduct their weekly PLC sessions. During these sessions, teachers gather to discuss a particular subject, led by a facilitator, and simulate how the principles in the handbook can be applied in classroom lesson delivery, referencing the NTS and their Handbooks. These structured PLC Handbooks can be downloaded here: Basic Education – T-TEL
Teachers at Kanguol RC Primary during a PLC session referencing the PLC Handbooks and the NTS
Teams were pleased to see that PLC sessions, making good use of the Handbooks and NTS, were held in all 16 basic schools.
After the field visits, a reflection session was held to discuss observations and their implications for GES, T-TEL and other partners. This feedback is summarized below.
Strengths identified during the lesson observations include well-prepared teachers who set clear objectives, demonstrated mastery of the subjects, use of ICT and interactive activities, and the blended use of English and the local language for ease of understanding by learners. Teachers also provided opportunities for learners to share knowledge and participate in group work. The observations also revealed the use of gender-responsive instructional methods and mixed-ability grouping in the classroom.
Basic 6 Learners at Kanguol RC Primary working in a group
Areas for improvement:
Areas for improvement identified include the need for better questioning techniques, incorporating more ICT into teaching and learning, encouraging more parental involvement in education, and overcoming teacher shortages by deploying additional teachers to the schools. Teachers were also advised to use the differentiated learning technique to support learners at different grade levels especially in multiple grade classrooms.
During the PLC sessions, the observations were positive, with engaging and interactive sessions led confidently by the facilitators. Teachers were guided through relevant activities and encouraged to participate fully. However, there is room for improvement, such as emphasizing the need for practical application of techniques used in PLC sessions during lessons and ensuring that all facilitators are drawing upon the experience of teachers in their school rather than reading out examples from the Handbook.
These issues will be addressed by GES, NTC and T-TEL as amendments will be made to ensure that the PLC Handbooks are more practical and user-friendly.
PLC session at Kohuo DA Basic
The field visits and reflection sessions provided valuable insights into the strengths and areas for improvement in the teaching and learning process in basic schools in Lambussie district. The MoE, GES, T-TEL and partners are committed to ensuring the continuous improvement of education in Ghana through the implementation of practical PLC sessions and continued implementation of the Communities of Excellence Programme.