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Diploma Disease in Ghanaian Distance Education Upgrading Programmes for Teachers

Open Learning Volume 29, Number 1, ISSN 0268-0513


This research explores manifestations of "diploma disease" in distance education (DE) upgrading programmes for basic school teachers in Ghana. A survey design which included document analysis was used to explore the emphasis in the contents of the DE programme and the experiences of teachers who took the programmes. The study involved a sample of 230 students (140 males and 90 females) who were all teaching in public schools (66% in primary and 31% in junior high schools). The findings indicate that the programme was fulfilling its purpose of upgrading a large number of teachers so they acquired a diploma and/or degree qualification for teaching in Ghanaian basic schools. In spite of their average satisfaction with their experiences of several aspects of the DE upgrading programme, a substantial proportion of the participants indicated that they had great difficulties in carrying out such activities as "teaching large classes" and "teaching new content areas introduced into the syllabuses" because the programme provided little opportunity to develop these skills. Finally, since the DE programme is based on the official curriculum designed for the traditional face-to-face programme, the failure of the former to increase teachers' capacity to deliver as envisaged by the initiators of the programme can be attributed largely to inefficiencies in the official curriculum. The study concluded that the DE programme's inability to increase teachers' capacity to deliver better teaching is a manifestation of a "diploma disease" resulting from inefficiencies in the nation's teacher education system. Suggestions are made for improving the quality of DE upgrading programmes.


Mereku, D.K. (2014). Diploma Disease in Ghanaian Distance Education Upgrading Programmes for Teachers. Open Learning, 29(1), 45-58. Retrieved September 25, 2023 from .

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