SPEECH DELIVERED AT CONFERENCE OF PRINCIPALS OF COLLEGES OF EDUCATION (PRINCOF) ANNUAL MEETING

I wish to start by expressing my sincere gratitude to PRINCOF for the kind invitation extended to me to be part of this meeting. There is no gainsaying the fact that my Ministry and PRINCOF have the onerous responsibility of ensuring that the right caliber of teachers is produced for our school system. I suspect it is out of appreciation of this important shared responsibility that you have invited me to your meeting. I am aware that all of you have been participating and collaborating with the T-TEL over the past three years, and therefore are familiar with the key elements of the reform, and what the Ministry of Education seeks to achieve.  

Whatever the reason may be, I am glad to be here and I intend to use this opportunity to reiterate a few of the key reforms and initiatives that we are pursuing in the area of teacher education and to remind you of the huge expectations I have of PRINCOF in particular, and the Colleges of Education as a whole, if these reforms are to succeed as we so much desire.

You may recall that following the development of the National Teachers Standards, the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) led the process for the development of a National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework. This framework articulated the vision for a revised curriculum for pre-service teacher education in Ghana, the goal of which is to develop a responsive initial teacher education curriculum that recognizes the value of supported teaching in schools or teaching practice and creates a fundamental balance between pre-service and in-service teaching. 

The reform became virtually inevitable given the rather depressing statistics on learning outcomes from our school system. For example, the EGRA assessment in 2013 reported that only 2 out of every 100 school children in Ghana could read with comprehension (EGRA 2013). Sadly, this was by no means an isolated result. Something definitely had to give if our school system is to live up to the expectations. 

To achieve this, the Ministry of Education is committed to roll out comprehensive teacher education reforms and provide Colleges of Education a new focus, direction and purpose.

Furthermore, and perhaps one of the reasons for the historically poor learning outcomes, is the fact that teaching as a profession has yet to occupy its rightful place in practice. Thus, professionalizing teaching, through the provision of high quality teacher education, became a key national priority for this Government and hence an important component of the reform effort. We had to take steps to ensure that those teaching our children are inspiring, confident and knowledgeable enough to deliver quality education in a professional manner. 

You will remember that the first step in conceptualizing this reform agenda was a long and intensive process of consultation, with over 1,000 Ghanaian Education Policymakers, Researchers and Stakeholders, including yourselves working with the National Teaching Council (NTC) and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) to produce the National Teachers’ Standards and the National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework. These two documents, developed through an extremely participatory and consultative process, lay the foundations for the transformation of teacher education in our country

Mr. Chairman, my dear Principals, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you may also recall that the Cabinet memorandum of 28th September 2017 outlined Government’s approval of the following as key pillars of our Policy on Teacher Education Reform:

  • The National Teacher Standards (NTS) for pre-service teachers and,
  • The National Teacher Education Curriculum Framework (NTECF)

To operationalize these two documents Cabinet also took a decision to:

  • Convert Colleges of Education into University Colleges of selected public Universities with a capacity to deliver teacher education programmed and,
  • Design a new 4-year Bachelor of Education programmed for initial teacher education to be offered by the University Colleges, under affiliation and mentorship of the assigned Universities 

To give effect to these reforms, my Ministry, working in close collaboration with key stakeholders, designed and rolled out a roadmap for implementation, outlining some key commitments and milestones. These commitments subsequently found expression in the 2018 Budget Statement. I am happy to observe that a lot of ground has already been covered.

It is expected that the reforms will improve the institutional capacity of Colleges of Education in such a way that they become centers of excellence for delivering quality teacher education, and preparing the next generation of teachers who will transform education and improve the learning of children in our basic schools.

In making this decision, Cabinet in its collective wisdom believe that the fundamental changes in training teachers has the potential to completely change the face of teacher education by:

  1. Providing a new generation of teachers with the right mix of skills and competencies who will not only function effectively in Ghana’s classrooms, but will also have the enhanced professional status befitting 21st century education practitioners; 
  1. Enhancing the professional standing of teachers which requires a bachelor’s degree as the minimum entry standard. In so doing teacher education will attract a wider group of talented young men and women as high-quality applicants who aspire to undertake training programmed and enter the profession. 
  1. Ensuring that the new teacher training approach relies heavily on supported teaching in schools, to expose trainee teachers early in their training, to the basic practicalities of teaching even before they finish their formal training. 
  1. Ensuring that the new bachelor’s degree programmed is rigorous and practically focused, enabling student teachers to demonstrate the competencies set out in the National Teachers’ Standards (NTS).
  1. Alleviating the current disrupted workforce situation where in-service teachers abandon the classroom because of their desire to upgrade their Diplomas to Bachelor of Education Degrees, which consequently leads to significant loss of instructional time and creating artificial teacher shortages at the school level and;
  1. Ensuring that newly trained teachers under the new reform arrangements complete a fifth year (of National Service), dedicated to a school placement, action research, examination and portfolio building to enable them attain their “Qualified Teacher Status” and be licensed by NTC to practice as Licensed Professional Teachers.

Once all five Universities receive their accreditation, the Ministry of Education will work out a formula to align all 46 public Colleges of Education to the five public Universities, and consequently amend the Colleges of Education Act (Act 847).

The amendment of the Act will allow the Ministry of Education initiate a process to convert all 46 public Colleges of Education into University Colleges as directed by Cabinet. 

This will also allow Colleges to formalize their affiliation with the five Universities. In this process, the Ministry of Education will collaborate with relevant stakeholders and consider different options to ensure a smooth transition. 

In the meantime, and for this academic year (2018-2019) the Ministry of Education has agreed that all 46 Colleges of Education will continue their affiliation to the University Cape Coast, who are in the process of receiving accreditation for the new four-year Bachelor of Education Curriculum they have submitted to the National Accreditation Board. 

The other four Universities will start the implementation of their accredited curricula in the 2019-2020 academic year. This is to ensure that the right systems are in place and these Universities sign the needed Affiliation Agreements with Colleges of Education.

However, having reflected on a number of critical factors and also in order to ensure a smooth take-off of these programs, Government has decided that the initial cohort of students on the Bachelor of Education programmed in all Colleges of Education shall be enrolled under the mentorship and supervision of the University of Cape Coast. This is no doubt an onerous responsibility, and I want to believe that the UCC will live up to the high expectation.

We are therefore well on course to meeting the implementation start date of October 1, 2018. 

For avoidance of doubt Mr. Chairman, permit me to emphasize that this arrangement will obtain ONLY for the 2018/19 Academic year, after which some Colleges will be assigned to the other Universities based on a number of considerations, including capacity to handle the discipline and level specialisms.

This initial arrangement presents an opportunity for the other Universities to prepare adequately for the implementation and also affords the Ministry the opportunity to refine the criteria for assignment of the Colleges and to address the concerns that have come up already in relation to the exercise by the beginning of the ensuing academic year.

This affiliation/mentorship arrangement between the Colleges and the Universities is also designed to operate over a transitional period. During this period, we shall learn appropriate lessons through continuing engagement with key stakeholders and make necessary adjustments to perfect the eventual governance model that will respond effectively to the ultimate policy objective. 

In the meantime, the legal framework provided by the Colleges of Education Act (Act 847) is sufficient and will remain fully operative over the transition period.

I also have the pleasure to inform you that the Ministry is collaborating with the NCTE to ensure that vacancies created by the recent retirement of some principals will be filled soon so as to ensure smooth academic work. It is my expectation that this process will be based on merit and that the new principals who will be hired, will possess the right leadership skills and be competent, ambitious, with a full grasp of what it takes to deliver on the much-desired reforms.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am told that, more than 50,000, mostly qualified candidates, have applied to enroll in the Colleges of Education. This is unprecedented and undoubtedly speaks volumes to the propriety and attractiveness of the reforms. Understandably, this has led to demands by some Colleges to be allowed to admit more students, beyond the reference guidelines issued by the Ministry through NCTE. 

While this may be the logical thing to do, I implore each one of you to ensure that you do not admit numbers that your College does not have the capacity to handle. The NCTE has thus, been charged to work closely with PRINCOF to advise on what will be reasonable in the circumstances, particularly in respect of addressing policy imperatives on inclusion, gender parity and science; humanity ratios, among others. I must nevertheless stress that under no circumstance will any congestion situation in any of the Colleges be tolerated.

In a related development Mr. Chairman, we are also working towards the creation of a new specialized university that will carve a niche as a Center of Excellence in industry-academia collaboration and the training of teachers for all levels of the TVET System; from the basic levels all the way to the Technical Universities. The plan is to bring together the Kumasi and Mampong Campuses of the University of Education, Winneba and eight (8) technically-oriented Colleges of Education to form this University. A number of names are currently under consideration, but it appears the name National University for Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development seems promising as it mostly reflects the essence of the envisaged mandate.

Chairperson, it is the expectation of the Ministry of Education, that Principals of Colleges and their staff will remain dedicated to the reform and show exemplary and principled leadership during this transformation period. You will make history if you stand together to make this reform agenda successful.  

Our task is enormous, but pretty clear for all of us. I want to use this opportunity therefore, to call on all stakeholders, in particular, you the principals and the CETAG, to continue with the excellent collaboration we have developed over the last year or so and to work even more closely for us to see through the reforms successfully. The lives of many generations of children and young men and women depend on us and we CANNOT afford to fail. 

At this juncture, Mr. Chairman, please permit me to congratulate PRINCOF on this occasion of your Annual Conference and to let you know that I will be keenly looking forward to the outcome of your deliberations.

And finally, I now have the singular honor and privilege to declare this annual conference of PRINCOF duly open!

Thank You!

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