Ghana is embarking upon the most ambitious and comprehensive set of teacher education reforms in its history, producing inspiring teachers who encourage critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.
Reforms are overseen by the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) with support from Transforming Teacher Education and Learning, a Government of Ghana programme funded by UK aid and implemented by Cambridge Education. The new curriculum, which gives student teachers practical experience from their very first semester, has been described as ‘truly world class’.
Semester 2 was due to start on 16th March. Instead, in an effort to halt the spread of COVID-19, it was the first day of a nationwide ban on public meetings and the indefinite closure of all learning institutions.
The NCTE acted quickly, establishing a Virtual Learning Taskforce to ensure that teacher education could continue online. Learning materials have been made available through an online resource hub. 90% of student teachers have registered for lessons delivered through virtual platforms.
However, efforts will only be successful if they reach ALL student teachers, including those living with disabilities, or who live in areas without mobile phone coverage, lack the money to purchase devices, or are expected to carry out chores instead of attending online classes. We’re collaborating with learning institutions to develop guidelines which consider the needs all learners. Data is examined weekly to identify low attendance or where classes have not taken place, and we will soon be able to track individual attendance to identify and address barriers.
We have seen blended learning does have advantages. The need to ensure that all resource hub materials are inclusive has raised awareness of a free braille and text-to-speech translation tool. Virtual lesson observation means tutors don’t have to make long trips across country, and the realisation that large-scale online learning is possible could help address the inevitable increased demand for higher education following 2017’s Free Senior High School policy.
What we learn from this crisis can contribute to Ghana’s vision of a truly world class – and inclusive – teacher education system.
This article has been adapted from a longer piece by Professor Mohammed Salifu, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education and Robin Todd, T-TEL Team Leader.