I am Isaac Appiah-Darkwah, Ghana.
*Current approach to teaching and learning in Africa
In Africa, the dominant instructional approach is what I call classical pedagogy’, which is the teacher-centred and highly structured teaching and learning in which the teacher as the champion of knowledge and its transfer possesses over 70% of the total instructional time. The teacher is at the centre stage of teaching and learning and no quality learning takes place without the dominant role of the pansophist. Teachers in the current teaching and learning approach may end up learning better than the learners in a given instructional period because they are more active, have command over all the learners, determine the pace and may even possess all the teaching and learning resources. The knowledge to be taught is mainly developed by the teacher, delivery methods designed and imposed by the teacher on the learners and the pace of teaching and learning as well as modes of assessment are all determined by the teacher. Assessments are based on teacher-determined objectives. Teaching is highly structured with very strict periods. The context of learning and the learning environment have little focus and teaching and learning resources are the preserve of the teacher. Quality of teaching and learning are measured with input indicators such as teachers’ academic qualifications, contact hours, quality of teaching and learning-related policies, curriculum, and SSRs among others. Finally, learning is measured by input-based factors including the ability to reproduce what the teacher produced.
*Demerits of the Current Approach
The current approach to teaching and learning negatively affects learners in diverse ways. Learners are passive in the teaching and learning process and as a result, knowledge acquired becomes volatile, shallow and difficult to apply, especially in different contexts. Learners’ ability to decode and transfer knowledge to solving their life problems is seriously challenged thereby widening the gap between academia and industry. The current teaching and learning also affect the relevance of graduates to the manpower needs of societies. Critical thinking, ingenuity, inventiveness and the ability to liberate their minds to think outside the box are limited in the current approach to teaching and learning. Learner tends to lack the ability to construct knowledge, generate new approaches to solving life problems, transform their world and even embrace innovations.
*Proposed New Approach to Teaching and Learning in Africa
The new approach to teaching and learning being proposed is learner-centred. This puts learners first in the instructional transactions and adopts a holistic approach to course delivery in all modes of learning. The new approach takes cognisance of the learners’ contexts and role in the instructional system. It seeks to enhance learners’ ability to think, discover, and create new knowledge as well as reflect and improve existing knowledge. Teachers are facilitators of learning or co-learners ‘who teach by learning from their learners’. In the new approach, different teaching and learning methods and resources are adopted innovatively to guide learners to construct knowledge. Why do we always put teaching first as in “teaching and learning”? Will it become “learning and teaching”? Perhaps, to give a sense of learner first? Well, this may be related to the hen and egg theory.
*Benefits of the New Approach
The benefits of the new approach are effective and quality teaching and learning that will not produce just learned people but educated citizens of the nations in Africa. The new approach will generate deeper learning that will support effective application and transfer of knowledge. Learners will be motivated to create and invent new things. Innovativeness, which is an expected competence of all 21st century graduates will be assured. The continent will have graduates who can think and create innovative solutions for the growing challenges in Africa.
*Recalibrating African Professors and Learners
The way forward is to reach out to teachers and learners with the principles and practices of the new approach to teaching and learning. Professors and Learners must be endowed with the knowledge and skills of the new approach and this can be done through advocacy, education and training. HAQAA 3 must advocate for all lecturers to take a professional teaching course in pedagogy. HAQAA can develop a framework or guideline for the design of such courses as a step to harmonise the courses. Training workshops can also be done for learners and QA bodies on the new approach. Evaluation of teaching and learning, for instance, should adopt more output indicators than input indicators.
*Promoting life-long Learning in Africa
When teachers and learners are motivated by the adoption of the new approach, learners at all levels will have the capacity and the urge to create and gain knowledge. People will embrace all forms and modes of learning and will find learning useful at all times. This will undoubtedly promote life-long learning in Africa. HAQAA projects can further consider continuing education, complementary education, flexible learning and professional education. Countries can be supported to develop policies and systems on the recognition of micro-credentials.
*Role of Digitalization in the New Approach
The new approach to teaching and learning adopts new instructional strategies and methods. Different modes of delivery such as online and blended, and the use of electronic multimedia content in the new approach will need digitalization. Digitalization will therefore accelerate the adoption of the new approach to teaching and learning. HAQAA can consider the capacity building of teachers learners and regulators on digitalisation.