Since 2002, primary education in Zambia is free. Because of a growing school population the education system comes under pressure. In some cases, there are up to 80 children per classroom, which evidently does not benefit education quality.
This makes improving primary education quality quite a big challenge. The teacher training for future teachers (pre-service) as well as for teachers in-service lack quality. The underlying causes include poor working conditions for teachers, lack of sufficient institutional structures and limited teaching and learning skills of teachers.
The VVOB Teacher Training Support Programme helps professionalising teacher training colleges. This will assist in gradually improving education quality.
The Teacher Training Support Programme started in 2008 and will run until the end of 2013. The specific goal of this programme is to improve the quality of pre-service and in-service teacher training for primary education in Zambia – including distance learning.
The programme is based on several pillars that help to improve the quality of education through teacher training and development. Introducing systems of lifelong learning in colleges will improve learning and teaching skills. The programme also supports the development, implementation and improvement of distance learning. Lastly, the programme stimulates access to qualitative materials and methods via ICT.
The Teacher Training Support Programme collaborates with the Zambian Ministry of Education, the strategic partner – in particular with the Directorates of Education and Specialised Services and Distance Education. The twelve institutes for teacher training (including the National In-Service Teachers College (NISTCOL) and the Zambia Institute of Special Education (ZAMISE)) are our operational partners. The programme tries to involve other relevant stakeholders in its activities as well.
The Teacher Training Support Programme has three main areas of support: continuing professional development, distance learning and ICT in education.
Continuing professional development
The programme strengthens lifelong learning in teacher training. Every teacher training college has set up its own committee on continuing professional development. Through action plans they try to improve education and learning in their institute. VVOB guides them in this process. Representatives of every teacher training college meet several times a year to share their expertise, good practices and experiences.
Supported by VVOB, all teacher training institutes are setting up distance learning programmes. Coordinators of distance learning gather on a regular basis to exchange experiences and to be trained, thereby improve their skills.
ICT in education
VVOB also works on ICT in education in Zambia. The programme focuses on the equipment (laptops, beamers, network infrastructure) as well as on the technical and pedagogical support. Within ICT, the programme mostly works bottom-up: teachers are guided while trying new techniques and material. Instructive examples are shared with the broader education community. Within that framework, the programme now invests in setting up a Zambian Knowledge Centre. This (digital) centre will provide colleges better access to qualitative education materials.