The Role of professional Associations in continuing professional development of teachers: The case of the home economics association of Zambia
Ndopu, Nambula Georgina
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The study was designed to investigate and assess the role professional associations play in the Continuing Professional Development of teachers, taking the Home Economics Association of Zambia (HEAZ) as a case study. The study's objectives were to examine the extent to which HEAZ contributed to the Continuing Professional Development of its members; to find out the mechanism HEAZ had put in place to monitor and evaluate the Continuing Professional Development activities of its members; to establish what links there were between HEAZ and the Ministry of Education in the promotion of career development and upward mobility of Home Economics teachers; and to evaluate the role that HEAZ played in the design and development of Home Economics curriculum. The population of the study comprised 500 respondents who included teachers in selected Basic and High schools, the Provincial Education Standards Officer, the Senior Education Standards Officer and HEAZ officials in Lusaka province. The sample consisted of 100 respondents comprising teachers, Head Teachers and Home Economics officials in the schools under study.The study employed the quantitative and qualitative methods to collect data.Respondents were subjected to questionnaires and 30 minutes long semistructured interviews.Quantitative data were analyzed using the Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS) to generate tables of frequencies and percentages. Data were analyzed qualitatively to come up with the most significant categories of themes. In 2007 Home Economics was among the subjects that were taught in Zambia's Basic Schools, High Schools and Colleges. It was a practical subject like Industrial Arts and Art and Design. In Zambia, Home Economics was pioneered by the missionaries. HEAZ faced a lot of challenges, ranging from inadequate funds to implement Home Economics activities; inadequate research; Home Economics not being taught in most Basic Schools; misplacement of qualified Home Economics teaching staff to other academic subjects by some Head Teachers; poor infrastructure; to closure of Home Economics Departments in some schools.The findings of the study were intended to assist policy makers in the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders to make decisions that were to promote and improve HEAZ as a professional association. The findings further sought to highlight the gaps and weaknesses that existed in the HEAZ Continuing Professional Development programmes and activities in order to improve and make them more effective and relevant to the needs of its members and,ultimately, raise the status of Home Economics.The biggest role that Professional Associations had played in the Continuing Professional Development of teachers in Zambia, in this case, the Home Economics Association of Zambia (HEAZ) as shown in this study was that it had helped teachers of Home Economics in various ways, among them, the sharing of information and knowledge and updating their teaching methods.The study showed that the majority of the respondents had not been accorded an opportunity to participate in the designing of the Home Economics Curriculum.The study recommended, among other things, that MOE should ensure that the Senior Education Standards Officer (SESO), Home Economics should be part and parcel of designing the Home Economics curriculum. It further recommended teachers to take part in curriculum designing should be recommended by the SESO unlike the current situation where he or she was bypassed in order to lessen the possible development of an inappropriate curriculum. It also recommended that Government, through MoE, should allocate resources to all subjects fairly and equitably. Additionally, MoE should give first priority to intensive training of Home Economics teachers on the use of locally available materials in order to lessen dependence on expensive imported materials which schools failed to procure largely because of erratic funding by the government.
- Education