Colleges of Education (CoE) formally known as Teacher Training Colleges are one of the tertiary institutions that seek to equip and train secondary school leavers purposely to become teachers. Over the years, successive governments have done everything within their power to make these institutions accessible, appealing and affordable to all. In light of this, successive governments have been able to establish Forty-Six (46) Public Colleges of Education with the help of some Missions/Churches. Again, it occasionally upgrades the certification of teachers.
In the year 2018, the three-year Diploma in Basic Education was replaced with the four-year Bachelor of Education. To make life more comfortable for trainees, the government resolved to the payment of allowances to trainees only in the public Colleges.
Being a trainee teacher, I subsequently engage in series of conversation with some colleagues who are yet to gain admission to any tertiary institution as to whether they ever wish to attend the College of Education. Their responses most of the time make me feel inferior which makes me think I made a mistake by coming to the College. Remarks such as “never”, “over my dead body”, “for what?” and other derogatory remarks makes one think why they will not like to attend the College especially when they are not even gaining admission to other tertiary institutions.
I, therefore, enquired further why they do not want to. The explanations given me were disheartening to me especially because I was and still a trainee teacher and a prospective teacher in the future. It was revealed to me that most people reject being enrolled in College of Education because of 3 main factors. Though it may not be limited to this, these 3 factors I term as MISCONCEPTIONS. Misconceptions in the sense that, they are not true yet they have ignorantly believed it to be true.
One reason given by most of them is that, they have good grades in their WASSCE and therefore, they need to enroll in other tertiary institutions preferably universities since to them the Colleges admit mostly students with poor grades. You all will bare me out that this is indeed a complete misconception since the cut-off point for admission into CoEs is always the same as that of other tertiary institutions including the universities they prefer attending. Taking into consideration the cut-off point for the 2019/20 academic year; that of the CoEs and the universities ranges from A1 to C6 in all subjects. It is therefore evident that CoEs have high standards attached to their admission processes especially with respect to qualification of the applicant.
Another misconception which ought to be cleared is the perception that students in CoEs are students with low intelligent quotient or in other words students that are not academically good. It is no doubt that they will consider trainee teachers who later become teachers as block headed people since they ignorantly think that they got admitted with poor grades. What even emphasized this perception for them is when the Minister of Education in a video circulated on social media stated that, teachers who attend CoEs do so with poor grades. It will interest them to know that just as they consider only students in universities as students that can obtain some number of A’s in their end of semester examination, students in CoEs also do same. To mention but just a few, Mr. Avorkpo Prince of Peki College of Education ever recorded 8As out of nine courses. Miss Wadjoly Perpetual of St. Teresa’s College of Education, Hohoe also recorded 9As. These and many more are the caliber of students in Colleges of Education. To talk of students graduating with first class in CoEs, we can boast of Miss Mary Tanyegbe of Peki College of Education, Mr. Gedze Bright, Mr. Okutu Bismarck and Mr. Prince Charles Adjah and many others.
It is for the exceptional performance of these students and many others that existed and yet to come that the Teacher Trainees’ Association of Ghana (TTAG) decided to take the Akan Traditional symbol “Nyansapo” as its logo. In the Akan tradition, this symbol means store of knowledge. So for TTAG taking it as its logo that implies that teachers are intelligent folks. This has been proved by the extraordinary performance of some students in CoEs.
Aside being academically intelligent, trainee teachers who later become teachers are noted for being exceptional leadership traits. In almost every sector of Ghanas Economy, you will find someone that has ever been to a training College. To mention a few, Hon. Ampem Nyarko, Member of Parliament for Asuogyaman constituency in the Eastern Region is a past student of Peki College of Education, Hon. Alhassan Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North, old student of Tamale College of Education among other prominent personalities. For the few years I have been in College and being a member of TTAG, I have come into contact and heard of trainees who took up leadership position in their various institutions and later advancing it to TTAG. Mr. Tagbor Sampson, a former TTAG President and currently an aspirant for University of Ghana, Legon SRC Presidency cannot be left out. Also, the likes of Mr. Bright Ababio, Mr. Otto Anipa Selorm, Mr. Oscar Agbo, Mr. Doe Francis, Mr. Agboni Nicholas and many others exhibited good leadership styles and it is of no doubt they will someday be heading the affairs of our dear nation. We also have ladies with lion hearts who also exhibited some exceptionality when it comes to leadership. Some of these people include Miss Wadjoly Perpetual (SRC President 2018/19, TERESCO), Miss Adjei Yeboah Francisca (TTAG EGA President, 2019/20), Miss Erica Arthur (TTAG WEC President, 2019/20) and many others. Their prowess as leaders gets me wondering why some people think nothing good can ever come from CoEs.
Finally, another misconception which needs to be cleared about CoEs, teachers and trainee teachers is the mentality that people who attend Colleges of Education have poor financial backgrounds. Most people think the main reason why we chose to enroll in CoEs is because we cannot meet the financial demands in other tertiary institutions especially in the universities which they prefer attending. I nearly got deceived to believe this until I got admitted and realized that the school fees we pay in addition to other expenses made on handouts, feeding and others is usually the same or maybe even more than what is paid at the universities. It will also interest them to know that some students are wards of well-known and respectable personalities in the country.
From the clear explanation given above aiming at clearing the misconception we all have about our teachers, trainee teachers and Colleges of Education, we can all come to agreement that people who enroll in Colleges of Education do so to be trained as teachers because of their passion for the profession and not because they have been necessitated by “misconceptions”.
The government together with other stakeholders in charge of Colleges of Education are doing their best to improve the standard of teachers, trainees and Colleges of Education, but I still think there is a lot to be done. It is high time we as trainees, teachers and even government add value and worth to the profession. Let us not forget that, no matter who we are today, what we are today, the teacher taught us all and even what you aspire and desire to acquire in the near future depends on the teacher.
Let us all get involved in adding value to the teaching profession. I am involved and so are you.
By: Oliver Klenam Azorli
Peki College of Education