On the 18th July 2023, Sabre Education was delighted to host a Ghana Education Learning Space (GELS) session, supported by the Jacobs Foundation and White Loop, on the role of headteachers in improving kindergarten (KG) teaching and learning.

The Ghana Education Learning Space (GELS) is a pilot project aimed at bringing stakeholders together who are working nationally across the education ecosystem in Ghana to learn, share, connect and collaborate. The GELS forum is a space for honest discussion of the challenges and successes of schools, classrooms, and the wider ecosystem, in order to bring out ideas that implementors can integrate into future projects.

The aim of this discussion was to bring into focus the real lived experiences of those working on the front line of early childhood education: teachers, school leaders, community educators, and to share those stories with attending stakeholders. The panel comprised of two headteachers, an ECE coordinator, and a KG teacher, and focussed on the important role headteachers play in supporting, monitoring, and coaching KG teachers.

The session was led by Sabre’s ECE Technical Manager Foster Cephas Armah, who shared his reflections on a successful session:

“I was excited to have had the opportunity to moderate the panel discussions on the role headteachers play in ensuring effective teaching and learning at the kindergarten level. The panelists shared their experiences and insights on questions relating to their roles, and highlighted the qualities that distinguish effective head teachers from their counterparts. On a personal level, I was delighted that these ECE champions had the opportunity to share their experiences.”

At Sabre, we work with the Ghanaian government to transform early childhood education by implementing play-based learning at scale. With our partners, we have developed an ECE In-Service Teacher Training Model and are further developing evidence of its impact on teachers, children, and society. However, this teacher training model is not just about delivering the training itself. Crucially, to ensure its success, the model also includes other elements: coaching of teachers, monitoring, provision of resources, and integration with Professional Learning Communities.

During the panel discussion, Tony Dogbe, Sabre Education’s Executive Director, commented:

“Headteachers have a vital role to play in supporting KG teachers to ensure the success and sustainability of quality ECE in Ghana, as we look to scaling it nationally. That’s why we’re here today – to hear directly from headteachers and their colleagues about the role they play, the challenges they face, and how we, in turn, can support them.”

Emma Frempong, headteacher at Effutu Municipal school, expressed her thoughts on some of the difficulties she has encountered in effectively supporting KG learning and delivering quality ECE:

“Headteachers need to be part of training opportunities for teachers, as they’re not always trained in early childhood education. We also need to focus on engaging parents and communities effectively; we need parents to help little ones with their homework, so the child understands that the home is part of education practice.”

The session also focussed on inclusivity, with headteachers describing how they’ve adjusted teaching practices to accommodate learners with diverse needs. Emma Frempong added:

“Teachers are now trained in sign-language to help students with hearing impairments. When teachers know basic phrases like ‘how are you?’, ‘come in’, and ‘sit down’, the students feel like they are in an accommodating environment and so perform much better. There are also sign interpreters in lessons to help teachers during class, which means these children can make the most of the opportunities provided to them. We feel we are now an inclusive school for learners with disabilities; a welcoming environment without stigmitisation. Every child can learn, it’s just about meeting needs, so teachers need to take the time for each child to learn at their own pace.”

Boakye Acheampong, the headteacher at New Juaben South school, added:

“Thank you, Sabre Education, for coming to our aid. You’ve been very helpful for Ghana’s early teaching and learning. This new curriculum has been well-interpreted by Sabre at the early grade, but unfortunately the same has not been the case for primary and upper levels. We hope Sabre’s reach will extend to later years, so our schools, districts, and nation continue to go from strength to strength.”

Mavis Duodo is a KG teacher identified as exemplary by education authorities, who currently teaches at New Juaben South school. Mavis shared her outlook on what headteachers can do to create an effective environment for KG learners, and champion successful early childhood learning:

“It’s simple, as a KG teacher, all I need from my headteacher is positivity. When headteachers think about KG in a positive light, resources are distributed evenly, and we work as coequals to bring about change for the child, the school, and the community as a whole. Thank you, Sabre Education, for throwing more light on the KG curriculum for the nation of Ghana. With Sabre’s excellent training, things have become simpler, easier, and the teacher is now more confident in what he or she does. I hope that their work extends across Ghana so we will grow into a greater nation.”

The Ghana Education Learning Spaces session also included the perspective of an ECE Coordinator, Linda Akowuah, who works in the Gomoa Central District:

“Some headteachers lack passion for KG and so don’t monitor the early years classes enough. This is a problem of resources; KG needs to be provided with resources. We can’t give up, as we know that we have a purpose. We will continue pushing for quality ECE in Ghana no matter the obstacles.”

Tony Dogbe concluded the session with a call to action for ECE stakeholders, saying “we are all leaders, and we’re all learners. The responsibility is on our shoulders to keep fighting for quality kindergarten education in Ghana.”

Thank you to the Ghana Education Learning Space and Jacobs Foundation for inviting Sabre Education to take part in this fascinating discussion allowing us to gain such broad perspectives on the early childhood education sector in Ghana.