Opportunity to learn English and mathematics in Ghanaian primary schools: implications for teacher education programmes
AbstractThe Ghana Basic Education Comprehensive Assessment System (BECAS) is a new assessment system which replaced national tests that were instituted since the 1992 to monitor primary school pupils' achievement and progress in English and Mathematics. To ensure the new system assesses closely what teachers actually teach, the BECAS Team carried out a survey of the contexts of learning in primary schools to inform the development of a new comprehensive assessment system. The study examined whether or not the opportunities provided in primary schools for learning are good enough to promote learning for all of pupils and assure high levels of outcomes for all pupils. The study which involved 1,063 teachers sampled from the ten regions of the country was carried out in schools in July 2004. A questionnaire was used to gather data on teachers' schools, classes taught, location of schools, class size, gender, professional qualifications, instructional resources for teaching English and mathematics, instructional time for teaching English and mathematics, and coverage of content of English and mathematics in teachers' instruction over the year. A major finding of the study was that OTL standards for most schools were very low and it was observed that the majority of teachers completed nearly 60% of the content of the mathematics and English syllabuses.
The analysis also indicated that there were grave inequalities between schools as well as districts in the following:
• availability and adequacy of textbooks, • availability and adequacy of instructional materials, • teachers' instructional practices and management of instructional time, and • teachers' preparedness to implement the content standards.
These inefficiencies could be attributed to the fact that the curriculum content standards are clearly defined by the syllabuses of the various subjects taught at the basic level, no OTL standards have been set to guide their implementation. It is recommended that CRDD should be made to set OTL standards that will assure a high level of achievement for all pupils. That is, state the indicators that will assure a fair and appropriate provision of inputs and processes in basic schools. Also teacher education programmes should ensure that teachers are not only exposed sufficiently to OTL standards but also the strategies that they can be adopted to ensure such standards are maintained and improved.
Mathematics Connection Vol. 5 2005: 49-55