Professor Damian Kofi Mereku, former Dean of Science Education, at the University of Education, Winneba, has advised government to scrap the boarding system in Colleges of Education, and select some for development into Teacher Universities, instead or establishing 10 new such Colleges.
“One key option open to the government for meeting the increasing demand for teachers in the face of current economic difficulties… is to consider de-boardinising Colleges of Education.”
Prof Mereku made the suggestion at the Sixth Congregation and 60th Anniversary launch of the Peki College of Education, under the theme: “Sixty Years of Teacher Education: Successes, Challenges and the Way Forward.”
Prof Mereku asserted that scrapping the boarding system in the Colleges of Education could result in the expansion of their capacities “to double or triple their intake of pre-service teachers in the next 10 years.’
He said the boarding system in the Colleges detracts from their statuses as tertiary institutions, and places their students below other tertiary students, and stifles their abilities to “develop into more responsible adults who will take charge of their own lives and that of the children they will be teaching.”
Prof Mereku asked Colleges of Education to review their programmes and study modules to reflect emerging concerns of education, emphasising the process of learning that will enable the development of globally accepted core competencies, such as literacy, numeracy, creativity and innovation.
He called for “special incentives” in addition to the students’ loan scheme, “to attract the top candidates to the Colleges of Education.”
Prof Mereku observed that teacher education had gone through transformation and innovation since the “seminary” approach of the pre-independence period.
Quoting from a recent study by Akyeampong, Pryor and Westbrook 2013, on “improving teaching and learning of basic mathematics and reading in Africa”, Prof Mereku said “though initial teacher education programmes had impact on newly qualified teachers, they induced misplaced confidence leading to standardized teacher-led approaches that failed to engage learners.”
He pointed out that curricula of the Colleges lacked flexibility to incorporate changes in the basic school curriculum, as well as innovations recommended by the Ghana Education Service.
Prof Mereku said such innovations came rather late to the institutions so that they became obsolete by the time they were adopted.
Mr Tawiah Akyea, Chairman of the Peki College Council, asked the students to cast off the cloak of pre-tertiary students, and put on the garment of tertiary students.
“We are a university and social life in College should change,’ he admonished.
He said their discipline and knowledge should make them out as scholars.
“You ought to be curious to be a good scholar in order to be respected,” Mr Akyea said.
He said no matter their individual reasons for entering the College, their training has qualified them as teachers everywhere, not just in the classroom, and their approach to work must therefore be knowledge and character-based.
Mr J.M.K Baako, Principal of the College, enumerated a number of challenges, including bad roads, limited space, inadequate funds for in-service training, and uncompleted building projects.
He said the College has attained a student-population of 1,000 students ahead of its 2015 dateline.
Mr Baako said an Information Communication Technology (ICT) project has been completed, so also were some renovation works funded by the Getfund and a four-storey female hostel.
He advised the teacher-graduates to accept postings to deprived communities, and strive to make positive landmarks in improving the academic standards wherever they might be posted to.
They should also forge positive relationships with stakeholders where they might find themselves, and behave responsibly, and be good ambassadors of the College. GNA