Faustina Yankson during her graduation from OLA College of Education
Faustina Yankson, a graduate of OLA College of Education, is among the first batch of Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) teachers who graduated from the 46 public Colleges of Education (CoEs) following the introduction of the new B.Ed. in Initial Teacher Education in 2018.
This is her story
Faustina narrates how she excelled in college, graduated with First Class Honours and also emerged as the Best Graduating Student in ICT. In her words, “I am bent on breaking barriers and look forward to being a transformative teacher”.
For many people, the journey of life and decision of programme to pursue is triggered by circumstances and events beyond their control. For others, like Faustina, the choice to read Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and minor in Mathematics was driven by practical experience and understanding. Prior to entering College Faustina worked at a printing press for 9 months where she learnt how to use the computer for different printing jobs including graphic designing. This helped to influence her choice of programme to study at College.
Faustina receiving an award for academic excellence
A key part of the 4-year B.Ed. programme is an off-campus teaching practice called Supported Teaching in School (STS). This takes place every year across the four years of the B.Ed., culminating in a 12 week placement in Year 4 Semester 1.
For her Year 4 STS Faustina was assigned to Kwabena Fori M/A JHS to teach ICT. However, when she arrived at school she faced a major challenge as there were no computers in the ICT lab. She recalls how challenging it was to teach ICT without computers or any other ICT devices. “They [students] only know the ICT devices in books but they have neither touched nor used them. Some don’t even know how computers and laptops work.”
To tackle this, Faustina approached some of the teachers in the school to find out if they had laptops which they could bring to school. At her first time of asking two teachers agreed to bring laptops to school for her to use. Faustina continued to talk to the other teachers and was able to persuade them to bring three additional laptops. This meant she now had five laptops for the ICT class and one of the teachers also brought a projector from home.
With ICT tools now available, Faustina’s next task was how to get the learners excited about the subject. She decided that ensuring practical teaching would help to encourage learning. As she narrates: “I started from basic keyboard skills and then advanced to teaching them other techniques including how to set up google email addresses. I also gave take home exercises and encouraged the class to visit the community internet cafes to do their assignments. Within a week, I started seeing improvement in my class and a learner who had no interest in ICT started contributing in class. She enjoyed typing even though she was not very fast at it.”
Faustina’s efforts and initiative continued to yield positive results. Management of the school sent letters to some people in the community, and they contributed to buy a projector for the school.
A teacher in Faustina’s schools integrating ICT in his teaching
Faustina enjoyed the time she spent at Kwabena Fori M/A JHS doing her STS. She loved teaching at the school so much that she asked to be posted there again to do her one-year national service after College. This time she was assigned to teach mathematics. The first few weeks were tough as she realized the students did not like math and showed little interest in the subject. She felt that this was partly because of the time the mathematics lessons took place, always in the afternoon when the learners were already tired.
When she saw this, she spoke to the academic board to change math lessons from afternoon to morning. She noticed that in the morning, the students were more active and engaged. She also used downloaded and interactive videos to teach math as she noticed that “the learners want to be like the people in the videos.”
Faustina and her students at Kwabena Fori M/A JHS
Faustina wants to overcome misconceptions about mathematics being difficult especially for girls. She said girls should be encouraged to participate in class. “Teachers should use positive language in the classroom to inspire both boys and girls to learn.”
Faustina constantly reminds herself that she’s a role model in the classroom and in her community and will continue to give everyone in her class the opportunity to learn and explore.
Internship at Transforming Teaching, Education & Learning (T-TEL)
The internship scheme is a collaborative partnership between T-TEL and the Teacher Trainees’ Association of Ghana (TTAG) offered to final year student teachers twice a year for four weeks during College of Education vacation periods.
Faustina was selected and had the opportunity to do an internship at T-TEL and believes it played a big role in shaping her mindset and approach to teaching. Reflecting on her time at T-TEL, Faustina said “I knew very little about government reforms in education, but it is different now, a lot is happening to improve our education system.”
She also observed Professional Learning Community (PLC) sessions being held at a number of Senior High Schools which surprised her because she thought PLC sessions were only done at the basic schools. She was able to contribute and add value to these sessions because of the knowledge and experience that she had gained through her B.Ed.
Overall Faustina believes that her training, her practical experience of STS and her internship at T-TEL have all helped to prepare her to be an excellent teacher who can make a difference in the lives of her learners for years to come.