Exploring the backgrounds and shaping of beginning student teachers in Ghana: toward greater contextualisation of teacher education
Stephens, D. and Akyeampong, K. (2002) Exploring the backgrounds and shaping of beginning student teachers in Ghana: toward greater contextualisation of teacher education International Journal of Educational Development, 22 (3-4). pp. 261-274. ISSN 0738-0593
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Teacher education programmes are often quite similar in their framework and content, but often lack sufficient reflection on the personal background and the socio-political forces that shape teachers’ roles and identity within the systems in which they operate. This paper explores this issue using Ghana as a case study and discusses implications for its teacher education programmes and policies. Key characteristics of beginning student teachers found were: weak qualifying grades in two fundamental school subjects (mathematics and English), a waiting period of 2–5 years prior to entering teachers’ college, and apparently sharp differentials in trainees’ socio-economic background as compared to typical Ghanaian communities. They come to training with rich and varied images of teachers, teaching and the profession, but, in addition, many beginning trainees also express little desire to teach at primary school level, mainly for reasons of status and insufficient fringe benefits. These factors, we argue, should be taken into more account in the design of college programmes and the development of teacher education policies. The paper concludes with a call to teacher education systems, especially in Africa, to look more closely at, and learn from, who comes for training, what they bring with them, and how they perceive themselves in relation to teaching, training and future aspirations.
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