School Reforms in Ghana: A Challenge to Teacher Quality and Professionalism

By Agezo, Clement Kwadzo | Ife Psychologia, September 2009 | Go to article overview

School Reforms in Ghana: A Challenge to Teacher Quality and Professionalism


Agezo, Clement Kwadzo, Ife Psychologia


The role of the teacher in the modern school system is increasingly important and complex. A teacher needs a high level of professional knowledge and autonomous decision making when faced with professional challenges. Educational reform in Ghana like any other parts of the world calls for the type of teacher who is highly trained, motivated, dedicated and committed to the teaching profession to effect the anticipated desirable changes among students. In the era of increasing standard and accountability in education, teacher quality and training is more important than ever. Teachers are expected to demonstrate excellence in the practical craft of teaching, show regard for highest standard of ethical behavior in their relationship with students, colleagues, headteachers, and external publics. Teachers are to exhibit courage and leadership, and work collaboratively with colleagues for the benefit of students.

There are a number of key events which have changed the post independence environment in which teachers teach and students learn in many African countries. Successive governments have attempted to re-orient the strong liberal-humanist traditions of schooling characterized by a belief in intrinsic, non-instrumental value of education toward a more functional view characterized by competency based and results driven teaching (Helsby, 1999). It is important to recognize that education is essential to the well-being of the state and that a stable, social, and economic environment could best be facilitated if all persons were literate. Education has a fundamental role in maintaining the fabric of our society. We can not ignore the significant social costs borne by nations when select groups are denied the means to absorb the values and skills upon which their social order rests. It is doubtful if any child could succeed in life if he/she is denied the opportunity of education in present times. Mere basics - reading, writing, and arithmetic - are insufficient in these days to insure that the country's public school students are fully integrated into the world around us. A broad exposure to the social, economic, scientific, technological, and political realities of today's society is essential for our students to compete, contribute, and flourish in the twenty-first century. Thus a sound, meaningful and relevant education is a pre-requisite to a nation's development, and naturally all eyes are turned to the teachers who are considered to be fountains of knowledge and of crucial importance in the realization of the aims and objectives of quality education. Teacher quality is thus important if nations want to give their children the much needed meaningful education which will transform the society into a better place. Thus, no educational system can rise above the quality of its teachers.

With the new Educational Reform of 2007 in Ghana, the question is; how can we improve upon student learning in our schools? Are the teachers of high quality to meet the demands of the reform? What measures have we put in place to improve quality of teachers?

School Reforms

Although reforms in schools are different in every country in their content, direction and pace, they have five common factors. These are: (a) They are proposed because governments believe that by intervening to change the conditions under which students learn, they can accelerate improvements, raise standards of achievement and somehow increase economic competitiveness; (b) They address implicit worries of governments concerning a perceived fragmentation of personal and social values in society; (c) They challenge teachers' existing practices, resulting in periods of at least temporary destabilization; (d) They result in an increased workload for teachers; and (e) they do not always pay attention to teachers' identities arguably central to job satisfaction, commitment, efficacy and effectiveness. A general compact that had long existed between government, parents, and schools was that teachers were trusted to do a good job with not so much intervention by government in matters of governance. …

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