You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 01 31Article 411624

Opinions of Sunday, 31 January 2016

Columnist: Amoah, Anthony Kwaku

Promoting teacher professional development through ICT

Introduction
Ghana’s educational system carries eleven years of basic education, including kindergaten, and three years of senior high education. There are technical and vocational institutes for skill development and apprenticeship. The ICT in Education Policy is to ensure that students have ICT literacy skills, provide guidelines for integrating ICT tools, provide means of standardising ICT resources, facilitate the training of students and teachers in ICT, determine the type and level of ICT needed by schools for teaching and administrative purposes, and to promote ICT as a learning tool in all schools and institutions.
The Education Reforms launched in June 2007 called for the introduction of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all second-cycle institutions through the introduction of ICT as a core and elective subject, and integration of ICT as a teaching tool for all subjects as well as for supporting educational management and functions.
Introducing ICT into the educational process is an innovation which requires radical change in the way our schools operate. Technology creates an enabling platform for harnessing the potential of ICT in improving access to quality education, transforming teaching and learning, and enhancing student’s achievement.
Effective use of information technology promotes wealth and growth. In fact, it is a reliable tool for redistributing income, alleviating poverty, and pricking global competitiveness. In its ICT for Accelerated Development Policy (ICT4AD, 2003), Ghana has an ambition to transform itself into a rich technology-driven economy within a reasonable spate of time.
The fact still stands that the teacher is a powerful root stock on which any educational system grows. I also do appreciate that the product of any poorly equipped, motivated teacher in a system is stunted growth and poverty. Any policy initiative aimed at enhancing teacher performance is, therefore, key to the provision of quality service to the child.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ghana Education Service (GES) have been working with some organisations, including UNESCO, to assist teachers to perform their duties well. The ICT for Education programme, Ghana e-Transform Teacher Professional Development programme and Senior High School Connectivity Project, as part of the Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP), provide teachers and heads of schools with enhanced pedagogy and professional competency in ICT for school and classroom practices.

The e-Transform Project promotes access, equity and quality of learning with the core principles and thematic streams of Ghana’s educational policies and objectives. The target of the model for teacher professional development is to reach out to about 200 schools, 14,000 teachers and 200 heads of schools nationwide. It seeks to raise the teacher’s confidence and ability to use sound technological devices and skills for better service delivery.

Developing e-Transform teacher competency: what, why and how?
The Ghana Pilot Initiative of the Senior High School Connectivity Project 2012–2013 has developed teacher ICT competencies from the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT). The two levels of ICT competencies, where teachers have been worked through, are technology literacy (for general ICT application in professional practice) and knowledge deepening [for ICT infusion in Mathematics English and Integrated Science (ICT in MEIS) subject teaching and learning].

The e-Transform programme uses an Open Education Resources (OERs) which are free for use in all educational purposes, including the development of course modules and lesson plans. It features Technology Pedagogy and Content Knowledge (TPACK) which has three forms of knowledge that the teacher needs and they include; Technology Knowledge (TK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK) and Content Knowledge (CK). The Module is organised in four units with each unit made up of TPACK component to assist teachers to experiment with TK, PK and CK combinations in their classroom practice. And these four units comprise exemplary ICT MEIS lessons (TCK), ICT for implementing pedagogical strategies (TPK), teacher computer practicals (TK) and templates for application of technology in MEIS lesson plans and classroom practice (TPACK).

Brief overview of the Ghana Pilot Initiative
The Ghana Connectivity Initiative did pilot workshops and training sections of professional development activities in one cycle of three days for about 2,000 teachers just recently. There were trials and validations of the various modules and tools in the prioritisation and contextualisation of the ICT policy. At the beginner level, participants acquired basic literacy and solution-focused learning in ICT as Applying levels I and II did focus on technology literacy in MEIS backed with the use of didactic teaching models. Infusing levels III and IV deepened the knowledge of participants in the teaching and learning of MEIS. In all this, the emphasis has been directed towards problem-based learning, acquisition of modern skills in school development and management of MEIS classrooms. GES, with the help of its ICT Unit and under the staunch coordination of Mr. Raymond Atta-Williams, has been doing great outreach programmes and projects to ensure that the needed impact is made at the grassroots. It is an on-going initiative and so I shall be back soon!

E-mail: amoatec27@yahoo.com
The writer is an educationist and a public relations officer at the Headquarters of the Ghana Education Service.