Pre-service teacher training

Helpdesk Query:

The primary question is:

  • Under what circumstances is pre-service teacher education effective?

The sub- questions are:

  • What literature exists around pre-service teacher education reforms contributing to improved trainee, and student, outcomes?
  • What literature exists around the political economy of pre-service teacher education reforms?
  • Which methodologies for pre-service teacher education are most effective?
  • What literature exists around the organisation and reform of Colleges of Education?
  • What makes an effective College of Education?”

The evidence presented should focus on Ghana, West Africa, Sub Saharan Africa, and further afield only if directly relevant.


This helpdesk report is a synthesise of relevant evidence that is focused on the circumstances under which pre-service teacher education can be deemed effective. The evidence included is primarily focused on Ghana and West Africa. Some of the evidence from further afield, which was deemed to be directly relevant, was also included. This report includes this summary overview and a brief literature review.

Education policies, however well-intentioned, and official curricula, however well crafted, cannot succeed without the teacher, whose professional management of the teaching- learning process ensures that education really takes place. It is not just any teacher that can make education happen. It has to be an effective teacher. An effective teacher is not just born; they are made over time through training and experience. Teacher education is crucial in this process. Teacher education refers to the policies and procedures designed to equip prospective teachers with the knowledge, attitudes, behaviours and skills they require to perform their tasks effectively in the classroom, school and wider community.  Although ideally it should be conceived of, and organised as a seamless continuum, teacher education is often divided into three stages:

  • Initial teacher training / education: a pre-service course taken before entering the classroom as a fully responsible teacher.
  • Induction: a process of providing training and support during the first few years of teaching or the first year in a particular school.
  • Teacher development or continuing professional development (CPD): an in-service process for practicing teachers.

Quality teacher education starts with the initial teacher training course (pre-service training).  This stage is vitally important as it lays the foundations for motivation and ensures that new teachers are competent before entering the classroom. However, many countries face ongoing challenges of delivering good quality pre-service teacher training to respond effectively to the constantly changing needs of the curriculum, learners and school communities. This challenge persists whether the issue is improved learning outcomes in literacy, mathematics, languages or HIV prevention and sexuality education. Nevertheless, strengthening pre-service teacher training is necessary as research shows that it is the most effective way to raise educational quality as it will have overall benefits across the whole education system.

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