In July 2023, the Ghanaian Ministry of Education officially launched its new play-based kindergarten teacher training content developed in collaboration with Sabre and partners. The play-based approach signifies a move away from rote repetition towards a more child-centred pedagogy that promotes children’s critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity.
Once scaled nationally, this teaching innovation will change the face of KG education for over 60,000 teachers and 1.6 million kindergarten children in public and private schools across Ghana.
Sabre’s approach to changing ECE practice stems from the education context and challenges faced in Ghana. In 2007, Ghana was one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to introduce two years of compulsory kindergarten education, and by 2012, Ghana had achieved a gross enrolment rate of 99.4%. This reflected the government’s commitment to improving access to early education.
However, for a number of reasons, equivalent gains were not made in the quality of education children receive, as reported by the Ghanaian Ministry of Education (Educational Management Information System (EMIS), 2018/2019):
- Learning materials are in short supply, with one workbook for every six children.
- KG classrooms are often overcrowded, with an average of 52 students per class.
- 4,197 Ghanaian kindergarten classrooms were identified as in need of major repair.
- Learning also largely remains rote-based, with minimal play-based activities and minimal teacher training in play-based learning.
Shifting pedagogic practice: A train-the-trainer model
Sabre uses a sustainable, ‘train-the-trainer’ model in partnership with government which involves coaching a group of trainers from the Ghana Education Service who then deliver multi-day training workshops to teachers, headteachers and other Ghana Education Service officers at the district level.
Teachers learn how to implement the play-based KG curriculum, while headteachers and Ghana Education Service officers are supported to sustain quality teaching practice in KG schools through mentoring, coaching and assessment.
At the national level, approximately 90 Master Trainers have also received these train-the-trainer workshops alongside partners Right To Play and Innovations for Poverty Action. These new national trainers are now certified by the Ghana Education Service to deliver play-based teacher training anywhere across the country.
Sabre also works to improve the quality of teaching in the pre-service sector by working with five tertiary institutions to date, including the University of Education, Winneba, which deliver the Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood Education. Sabre supports these institutions by strengthening their students’ practicum placement experience in nearby schools.