About the FCDO funded Transforming Teacher Education and Learning Programme
The Transforming Teacher Education & Learning (T-TEL) programme was designed and launched by the Government of Ghana with financial support from UK Aid in 2014 with a mandate to work with the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) and all public Colleges of Education (CoEs) to improve the quality of pre-service teacher education.
One of the central premises of T-TEL, which was implemented by Cambridge Education and ended in 2020, was that many earlier donor-funded education improvement projects in Ghana had failed to make a lasting impact in changing behaviour and attitudes. Ideas and teaching methodologies, which were apparently successfully adopted during these projects’ lifespan often faded after they had finished. This could be a result of project design and failure to either attempt underlying structural or institutional reform or to systemize changes. T-TEL was determined to do things differently.
Ghana’s teacher education system in 2020 looks significantly different to how it did in 2014 but the full extent of these changes was not envisaged at the start of the program. Instead T-TEL’s original design envisaged a holistic package of activities focused predominantly within CoEs, a modest adjustment of the teacher education curriculum, and strengthening of the CoEs to make them more effective institutions.
The National Teachers’ Standard
The national and inclusive consultative process that T-TEL initiated in the teacher education community in 2016 as part of a process (the “Big Conversation”) to mobilize a coalition for change, was the genesis of far-reaching and fundamental reforms. The “Big Conversation” was a series of national and regional consultations led by the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) and National Teaching Council (NTC), involving participants from across the teacher education system including universities, CoEs, unions, government agencies, and civil society organisations. This process led to the production of the National Teachers’ Standards (NTS), which sets out a common expectation of Ghanaian teachers’ knowledge, behaviour, and practice.
The NTS provided the foundation for subsequent reforms as they established a common set of agreed requirements. It defined what a “good” teacher in Ghana would be across three domains: professional values and attitudes, professional knowledge, and professional practice. This provided a basis for setting standards for teacher performance and teacher education. The NTS formed the basis of a review and revision of the DBE teacher education curriculum.
This review of the existing teacher education curriculum concluded that the curriculum did not provide the necessary training for beginning teachers in meeting the requirements of the NTS.
The Government of Ghana then decided to replace the DBE with a new Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree in Initial Teacher Education, which was to become the new minimum qualification for anyone aspiring to enter the teaching profession.
Teacher Education Reform
The consultative process that had been used to develop the NTS was extended to develop a National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework (NTECF). The NTECF set out the mandatory requirements which any B.Ed. in Initial Teacher Education would need to meet to be accredited by the National Accreditation Board (NAB). The NTECF required specializations for Early Grade (KG–P3), Upper Primary (P3–P6), and JHS 1–3.
The Cabinet Memorandum on Policy on Teacher Education Reform, which was approved by the Cabinet of the Republic of Ghana on 28 September 2017 provided for:
- the official introduction of NTS for pre-service teachers
- the official introduction of the NTECF;
- the proposed conversion of CoEs into university colleges, affiliated to five public universities offering teacher education curricula (University of Cape Coast, University of Education Winneba, University of Ghana, University of Development Studies and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology);
- the design of a new 4-year B.Ed. curriculum for Initial Teacher Education to be offered at the university CoEs.
Introducing B.Ed. in Initial Teacher Education
T-TEL’s mandate now evolved to one of supporting the NCTE to deliver this ambitious set of reforms. T-TEL achieved this by working with a team of key experts to help revise the curriculum, and through support provided to all 46 CoEs through five zonal teams of education advisers. Since October 2018 Ghana’s 46 public CoEs have been delivering the new B.Ed. in Initial Teacher Education, which has been carefully designed to ensure that it produces a cadre of skilled, knowledgeable, and motivated Ghanaian teachers who meet the requirements of the NTS. A team of international assessors has described the content of this B.Ed., which was written in collaboration with a team of 105 Ghanaian educators, as being “truly world class.”
Each of the CoEs is affiliated with one of five public teaching universities that provide guidance and support as well as operating weekly professional development and learning sessions for tutors. The new B.Ed. curriculum blends content and pedagogy so all tutors model the behaviour and practices expected of teachers in basic school classrooms while teaching student teachers. Assessments also now focus on Supported Teaching in School (teaching practice in partner schools), continuous assessment, and portfolio building as well as final written examinations in line with a National Teacher Education Assessment Policy (NTEAP).
The teacher education reforms are driven by a desire to ensure that Ghana produces teachers who can inspire learners and encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity rather than simply focusing on factual recall to pass written examinations.
While the current batch of B.Ed. student teachers will not enter basic school classrooms until 2023, the changes in teacher education have already achieved impressive results. An annual external evaluation survey, carried out in June 2019 showed that:
- The proportion of English, Science, and Mathematics tutors in CoEs demonstrating student-focused teaching methods increased from 26% in 2015 to 78% in 2019.
- The proportion of English, Science, and Mathematics tutors demonstrating gender-sensitive instructional methods increased from 2% in 2015 to 80% in 2019.
These changes in the CoEs have significant and measurable impacts on the performance and behaviour of newly qualified teachers in Ghana. An external survey of teaching practices among over 500 beginning teachers (those in their first year after completing training) found that:
- The proportion of beginning English, Science, and Mathematics teachers with core competencies in the Pre-tertiary Teacher Professional Development and Management Policy Framework increased from 2% in 2015 to 41% in 2019.
- The proportion of beginning male and female English, Science, and Mathematics teachers demonstrating gender-responsive instructional strategies increased from <1% in 2015 to 31% in 2019.
These are impressive achievements that demonstrate the enormous improvements that have already been made in Ghana’s pre-service teacher education system, largely been driven by tutors themselves through weekly professional development sessions. Now that the five universities have taken over responsibility for operating these sessions it is highly likely that this approach will be sustained beyond the lifespan of T-TEL, which ended in December 2020.