Al-Faruq College of Education (AFCoE) in collaboration with the University for Development Studies is set to run a Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Arabic and English Education in the 2020/2021 academic year as part of the ongoing reforms in teacher education in the country. This was disclosed by the Principal of the College, Mr. Wahab Sualihu on Monday, November 23, 2020, when the Colleges of Education Weekly Journal interacted with him.
According to him, the Curriculum item writing in this regard has been completed with support from Transforming Teacher Education and Learning (T-TEL) and the National Council for Tertiary Education (NCTE) and submitted to the National Accreditation Board for consideration and approval. He said this makes Al-Faruq College of Education the first public teacher training College in the history of Ghana to train professional teachers in this discipline. Currently, Islamic and Arabic studies are taught as college-based courses, he concluded.
Al-Faruq College of Education is located in Wenchi in the Bono Region of Ghana. The College was formally inaugurated in December 2016 after it was absorbed by the Ministry of Education in June 2015. The pioneer teacher trainees were admitted in September 2016 to pursue the general option of the Diploma in Basic Education. The College has so far successfully rolled out two batches of the phased-out Diploma in Basic Education in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
The Principal further revealed that the College was initially established as an English and Arabic private Basic School that is Wenchi Educational Complex (WEDCO) to provide quality Islamic and circular education to the poor and the needy particularly the Zongo communities. WEDCO was established by a Saudi Non-Governmental Organization, Al-Muntada Al-Islami now known as Iqra Foundation for Education and Development based in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. The school was closed down and the premises used to establish a private College of Education which was handed over to the Government in 2016.
The College is currently offering the newly introduced Bachelor’s degree programmes with a concentration in Early Grade, Primary and Junior High School Education.
The principal enumerated the benefits of introducing the Arabic Education programme in the college. He indicated that it is welcoming news for all Ghanaians interested in Arabic and Islamic Education and the international communities at large. This will improve access and participation in competitive education, particularly in the basic schools in the Zongo communities across the country. Parents who desire their ward to learn the Arabic language will have their dreams come true since graduates from the College would be posted by the Ghana Education Service (GES) to teach in the Islamic schools. This would encourage Muslim parents, in particular, to send their wards to school thereby pushing the frontiers of illiteracy to the background.
According to the Principal, the situation will also make the Arabic instructors more effective as the same teacher would now be in a position to handle other subjects. Currently, Arabic instructors are being under-utilized as they can teach only Arabic and Islamic studies on the basic school time table. This makes them unstable in school. When the new Arabic curriculum is ready for implementation next academic year, the College in collaboration with the affiliate University will liaise with Ghana Education Service (GES) and National Teaching Council to organize short to medium term courses and programmes to train in-service Arabic instructors across the country to build their capacity. At the moment, over ninety-five percent (95%) of Arabic instructors across Ghana are not professionally trained, a situation partly responsible for low performance in most Islamic basic schools in the country.
It would also bridge the human resource gap for qualified Arabic teachers which is currently in short supply. By policy, Islamic schools require a minimum of three (3) teachers in the primary and Junior Secondary Schools. However, while some schools have fewer numbers of teachers, others do not have them at all. Some Islamic schools engage the services of part-time Arabic instructors at a fee which puts a further financial burden on poor parents. With the introduction of the new curriculum, more professional teachers will be trained to resolve these deficits.
It will protect the Government purse by reducing expenditure on the intake of additional Arabic teachers. At the moment the government requires a minimum of three Arabic instructors in each Islamic school to be able to implement the informal curriculum. With the introduction of the new curriculum, this additional spending of government would be removed as the same classroom or subject teachers will be able to handle both Arabic and other subjects on the basic school time table without the need for extra teachers.
Currently, the Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Development has recruited over six thousand five hundred (6500) Arabic Instructors under the Youth Employment Programme to teach Arabic and Islamic studies in the Islamic basic schools across the country. This extra government expenditure runs into billions of Ghana Cedis.
It would improve Ghana’s international and diplomatic relations with, particularly Arab speaking countries. This would attract international partners and Non-Governmental Organizations to support education in Ghana to improve the economy.
The Principal thanked the Government of Ghana for the support in numerous veins particularly, GetFund allocations to the College which have been of immense help in the smooth running of the College. The reintroduction of the Trainee Allowances comes with its own added advantage of not only giving students the needed sound mind to learn but also ease the pressure on parents and guardians of our students.
“Our sincere gratitude also goes to the government for offering us the unique identity of being the first college to offer professional training to Arabic Instructors by accepting and implementing the Arabic curriculum. As a widow’s might, we say shukran Jazeelan (thank so much)” the Principal noted.
The Principal however mentioned some challenges the College is facing and made some appeals to the Government and the general public to assist them. He said the College was absorbed by the government in an existing facility which was originally designed as a double streamed basic school before the conversion. “We still live in the same facility to date”, He said. The facility has now been over-stretched forcing management to partition and convert the existing Masjid (mosque) on campus into multi-purpose use as mosque, dining hall, assembly hall, lecture room, and an examination centre.
He further added that the Government on absorption in 2016 gave seven massive facilities. These include a two-story administration block, a four-story hostel facility and a cafeteria, a four-story lecture rooms and a laboratory, a multi-purpose hall with an auditorium of 2000 capacity, a demonstration basic school, a principal’s bungalow and external works with lanes, lawns, sports field and access routes. He noted that all these beautiful projects have however stalled. Efforts to get the contractors back has so far proved futile. Inadequate lecture rooms and student’s residence make the College unable to admit many qualified applicants.
He also mentioned accommodation and College vehicles as other challenges of the College. According to him, staff accommodation was not captured in the above Government projects. We have only two (2) staff bungalows in the existing facility. The greater majority of staff including the Principal commutes from town on daily basis. This situation does not augur well for effective monitoring and supervision of students under mentorship. He added that the College has only one Navara pickup truck donated by the Government of Ghana in 2016 for official operations. This vehicle is being over-stretched as it is the only vehicle used for all official journeys. He noted that the College was conspicuously omitted in the mass distribution of buses in 2016, making supervision of Teaching Practice and Educational Outreach Programmes very difficult.
We wish therefore to appeal to the government to motivate the contractors of the seven aforementioned projects to come back to the site. We particularly also wish to appeal to the Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Development to come to the aid of the College as any form of support for the College will have a multiplier effect on Zongo development which is the main focus of the Ministry.
We also appeal to the International Communities, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Philanthropists, and Corporate Organisations to support the College.
Source: News Desk, Colleges of Education Weekly Journal