General News of Saturday, 14 October 2017

Source: Innovations for Poverty Action

Innovative training programme for KG teachers improves child learning - Research

Some stakeholders from the educational, financial sectors were present at the research presentation

One effective way to improve early childhood development is through high-quality early education, including preschools and kindergartens, and research presented Tuesday in Accra at the Early Childhood Education Dissemination Event points towards promising paths to improved child learning throughout Ghana.

Early childhood is a crucial stage for human development. During the early years, children’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional development form the basis for their future learning. Research shows that investments in early childhood can have high returns in terms of future educational attainment and well-being.

Ghana has been a pioneer in the region in expanding access to pre-primary education, and has introduced a curriculum in line with evidence-based teaching practices. The next set of challenges is around improving quality of instruction and learning.

On Tuesday, October 10th researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, New York University and Innovations for Poverty Action-Ghana presented findings from two rigorous studies of efforts to improve early childhood education. Members of the audience included representatives from Ghana Education Services, Ministry of Education, the World Bank, and other key stakeholders.

One study, “Quality Preschool for Ghana,” which was conducted in partnership with the Ghana Education Service (GES) and the National Nursery Teachers Training Center (NNTTC), tested the impacts of an in-service teacher training program using a randomized evaluation. Two hundred and forty public and private schools in six districts in Greater Accra were randomly assigned to either receive the training, receive the training and a parental awareness component, or go along with business as usual. With this type of evaluation, researchers can isolate the impacts of the programs on teachers, learning environments, and the children’s learning and development.

“What we found was that the in-service teacher training improved the number of play-based, child-friendly activities teachers used and improved the quality?of teacher-child interactions,” said Dr. Sharon Wolf, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Human Development at the University of Pennsylvania and principle investigator for the study. “The program also reduced teacher burnout, as well as teacher turnover in the private sector,” Wolf added.



“In addition, the in-service training also led to an improvement in children’s pre-literacy, pre-numeracy and social-emotional skills, important elements of school readiness. And importantly, the program was found to be equally effective in both public and private sector schools,” said Dr. Larry Aber, Professor of Psychology and Public Policy at New York University and a co-investigator of the study.

“These findings suggest that QP4G can improve children’s school readiness skills in the Greater Accra region, and we think it would be valuable to scale-up this program in urban and peri-urban areas in Ghana, while adapting it to rural areas and testing it there as well,” said co-investigator Dr. Jere Behrman of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Wolf also shared results from an evaluation with Sabre Charitable Trust on the Fast Track Transformational Teaching Programme, a pre-service mentoring and training program for student teachers of kindergarten in Ghana’s Western region.



“With this study, we found that the training program significantly improved student teachers’ implementation of the curriculum and knowledge of early childhood education and development,” Wolf said. “But one year after being placed as full-time teachers, these improvements had not translated into improved child learning or development outcomes. To me this suggests a more intensive approach may be needed to support teachers when they are placed around the country.”

IPA Ghana has been a long-term partner of the GES and has collaborated on numerous studies to discover what works in the education sector. Madeleen Husselman IPA’s Country Director in Ghana, said of the event, “Presenting these results is a critical step along the path to incorporating more evidence-backed solutions into the KG system in Ghana at scale, and we look forward to continuing our working with the government and other development partners to advance this goal.”