Over the years, there have been moves by governments to professionally equip the teacher with the requisite skills to deliver. The latest of them is the Teacher Reforms policy submitted by the Minister of Education, Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh on November 20, 2018, during the Meet the Press series.
The reforms aim at "transforming teacher education and management at the pre-tertiary level into a cadre of highly qualified and motivated teachers who are better able to inspire their pupils to achieve better outcomes"(Ministry of Education, Nov. 2018). To help achieve the above goal, an initial 4-year Bachelor's degree in Education has been introduced in all the Colleges of Education, beginning from the 2018/2019 academic year.
This four-year B.Ed. programme replacing the Diploma is a good news for trainees. This means teachers would no longer have to complete the usual three-year Diploma in Education and an additional two-year top-up for a Bachelor's degree, a total of five years compared to the new four-year B.Ed. programme.
Again, the specializations (B.Ed. Early Grade - KG to Primary 3, B.Ed. Upper Primary - Primary 4 to Primary 6 and B.Ed. JHS Teacher Education Programme with subject specializations) will well equip the trainees with the in-depth knowledge and skills in their various areas of study.
However, there is the possibility of a chunk of trainees opting for a particular programme to the disadvantage of other programmes. For instance, if too many trainees opt for Early Childhood Education, there would be shortage of teachers trained for the Primary and Junior High level. When this happens, it means Early Childhood Education teachers would have to be deployed at the Upper Primary and the JHS, amounting to putting of square pegs in round holes.
Is the government of Ghana who is entangled with the task of reducing the wage bill at the public sector now ready to pay these graduate teachers according to their salary level and point upon completion? If yes, why are newly trained teachers who pursued the Diploma in Education directed by GES to wait for four long years before pursuing a Bachelor's degree?
As the minimum requirement for teaching in the Ghanaian Basic School is now pegged at the first degree, what becomes of the plight of the Diploma-holding teachers? In 2014/15 academic year, some untrained teachers(popularly called pupil teachers) with many years of teaching experience were sacked on qualification grounds. Shortly afterward, a new set of untrained teachers who were novices to the teaching profession were recruited under the Youth Employment Agency. Are the Diploma teachers going to suffer the same fate sometime in the future?
If the Ministry of Education really believe that the Bachelor's degree would produce better teachers for our Basic Schools, then opportunities should be provided for the Diploma teachers to upgrade to the B.Ed. status at government subsidized cost. The four years waiting period by newly trained diploma teachers before upgrading should also be scrapped as soon as possible to enable them to take up Bachelor of Education courses.
With the introduction of the Bachelor of Education degree at the Colleges of Education, if Ghana's basic educational outcomes are not tremendously improved, then maybe Masters degree may have to be considered as the minimum requirement for teaching in the Basic Schools.
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