University-level upgrade for teacher-training colleges

All Colleges of Education are to be upgraded to University Colleges and will offer a four-year Bachelor of Education degree with effect from the 2018-19 academic year, as part of efforts to improve the quality of teacher training in the country, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced.

This is the second upgrade for education colleges in the last decade: in 2012, the Colleges of Education Act (Act 847) was passed to give legal backing to the conversion of Teacher Training Colleges to Colleges of Education which were then placed under the control of the National Council for Tertiary Education, the government agency responsible for the regulation of tertiary education institutions.

Speaking at the 170th anniversary celebrations of the Presbyterian College of Education in Akropong in the Eastern Region on 17 June, Akufo-Addo said: “These colleges will, initially, be affiliated with the University of Cape Coast and, subsequently, to other public universities. This means that, eventually, a first degree will be the minimum requirement for teaching at any level of our education system.”

Currently, many teachers who complete the three-year Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) at the Colleges of Education go on, later, to do a two-year top-up first degree by distance learning at the University of Cape Coast – a public collegiate research university located in Cape Coast, Ghana. This means that, in addition to the extra amount of money spent on getting a degree, it takes trainee teachers not less than five years to get a degree.

“With the introduction of the four-year Bachelor of Education degree, you would now obtain your first degree at the end of your schooling. This ensures that you enter the teaching service as university graduates, with an increase in your earning capacity,” Akufo-Addo said.

Stressing the importance of teachers, he said all successful modern nations that have experienced extraordinary results in the formation of human capital and economic development, such as Singapore, Finland, South Korea and Canada, have shown that teacher quality is the single most important determinant of their success.

“For us also to make a success of our nation, we must pay attention to teachers. It is only a crop of well-trained and motivated teachers that can help deliver the educated and skilled workforce we require to transform our economy.”

In addition to this year's 11% increase in basic salaries for teachers, he said government has cleared all arrears owed to teachers accrued between 2013 and 2016. The arrears were in respect of travel allowances, transfer grants and overtime allowances.

“Presently, government is no longer accruing arrears. We have instituted an insurance package for teachers with SIC Life, which has been agreed on with the teacher unions. We have reinstituted teacher trainee allowances. Government intends to restore the teaching profession to the status it once enjoyed, and make it an attractive career choice,” Akufo-Addo said.

The government is also focusing on strengthening the quality of technical and vocational education and training. The president said his administration has begun to supply equipment to boost the capacity of the Colleges of Education that specialise in technical and vocational teacher training.

Akufo-Addo said all other technical Colleges of Education, including the Presbyterian College of Education, will, in the course of the year, receive their due share. “These reforms form part of government's vision to transform the country's education delivery system to meet the needs of a 21st century economy, and to produce a skilled and confident workforce to drive the nation’s agenda for industrialisation and modernisation,” he said.