Welcome to our weekly blog for Teacher Tapp Ghana!

Every Monday we summarise our most surprising and interesting survey findings from the week before. This weekly blog provides an easy way for you to learn about the experiences and opinions of teachers across Ghana.

Today is a major day for teachers in Ghana. GES have announced that all schools will be closed until further notice and plans for remote schooling are being prepared. We will be working closely with GES to share updated on this live situation and to offer the best assistance we can during this challenging time.

Please encourage your colleagues to use the Teacher Tapp app to keep engaged with education even when they’re not teaching. Your responses are also a vital data source that GES will be using to help in their decision-making around best policies and approaches to managing the current crisis.

If you’d like to bring more teachers to Teacher Tapp, please share this blog with your colleagues and encourage them to use the download links at the bottom of the page. In the mean time, here are this week’s intriguing findings…

1. Some findings about COVID-19

Last week we asked some questions to see how ready your school is to deal with the rapid spread of a new virus.

Our results are mixed. On the positive side, 82% of you work in a school where handwashing is actively taught to your students. This has been part of Ghana’s health education curriculum for some time already and will prove helpful in slowing the transmission rate of the new COVID-19 virus.

On the other hand, however, nearly 1-in-2 of you work in schools where students do not have access to clean water or soap to engage the handwashing skills they have been taught.

If students are unable to wash their hands regularly in schools, then it is difficult to slow the transmission of the virus among young people. This is especially concerning as the World Health Organisation have advised that young people can carry and pass the virus onto others without showing any symptoms of it. This makes hygiene for young people more important than ever.

Given this lack of resources, GES’ decision to close all schools may turn out to be a wise one. This is especially the case with very large classes (see section 3 below) in quite small and cramped environments where the infection can spread easily.

GES’ promise to put new remote learning facilities into place will also be an interesting venture that may change how schooling in Ghana works forever. Currently 1-in-4 of you work in schools where remote teaching facilities are set up. Other teachers will be working the new platform offered through GES.

We’ll be working with GES during to assist teachers with access to up-to-date information about the virus and its impact on education. We’ll also be working to share resources for distance teaching and doing whatever else we can to assist students and teachers through this difficult time. If you have any suggestions or requests for how we can help, please get in touch with us at baz@teachertapp.co.uk+

2 . Your views on tertiary education…

More students than ever are participating in tertiary education. Is this a good thing?

Perhaps not. When we asked you whether you thought tertiary education prepares young people for the workplace, nearly HALF of you told us that you do not believe it does!

As you’ve previously told us you believe one of the main purposes of education is to “prepare students for the workplaces of the 21st century”. With this in mind, your responses suggest you believe tertiary education is failing young people.

Given the high personal cost of participating in a tertiary education course, this also suggests you believe such courses are bad value for money. Should we then make tertiary education free for all young people? We asked you this question and were surprised that the majority of you do not think tertiary education should be free.

We are surprised at this response as previously you told us that you believe all students who want to attend tertiary education should be able to do so. But the financial cost of higher education is one of the main barriers to access. How does this add up?

One user offered this explanation: teachers in Ghana worry about too many things being given for free by the government as they believe this results in people not valuing them enough. The consequence of this lack of value is a lack of respect and proper use. As such, you may be concerned that free higher education would result in it not being valued enough by students, who may not make the most out of the opportunity.

This observation also pairs up with the fact that 50% of our users do not believe all their students are suitable for university. Perhaps the concern is that free higher education will result in lots of unsuitable students filling up tertiary education institutions, wasting resources and placing an unnecessary burden on teachers and lecturers.

3 . Class sizes – how big is too big?

Compared to other high income countries, the UK has very large class sizes. However, these sizes do not come close to Ghana!

Whereas a very large class in the UK may consist of 34 students, 1-in-3 of you told us that you teach classes of more than 40 students.

In fact, nearly 1-in-5 of you are teaching classes of over 50. That’s the size of TWO primary school classes in the UK!

Class sizes are clearly a major problem in Ghana, with over half of you telling us your classes are too large for you to teach effectively. One reason for this may be that many of you have told us that you believe it is important for students to work in groups as part of your ideal lesson. However, when you have over 50 children in a room it can be difficult to get them to engage in group work due to the amount of support and supervision required for effective collaborative learning. This means you are unable to teach in a way that you believe to be effective.

Class sizes also clearly restrict the layout of your classrooms. Although you favour collaborative learning between students, only one third of you arrange your students’ desks so they are facing each and can easily participate in group work. The remaining two thirds of you keep your desks arranged so they are facing you at the front of the room. This is likely because such an arrangement is easier for managing very large groups of students.

4. Finally, we know you’re finding our daily readings useful, so here are all of the ones from last week…

PLUS, Don’t forget that there are discussion questions for these articles that can be found here. Why not try them out with your PLC?

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