Introduction of computer education in the curriculum of Zambian primary and secondary schools: Benefits and challenges.
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The important role of ICTs in improving learning and teaching in the education sector has been widely recognised. Governments worldwide are prioritising the training of their citizens in ICTs. Consequently, the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of General Education introduced the Computer Studies in schools, starting from Grade Eight and ending at Twelve. However, there has been limited understanding on the benefits of introducing this subject to both teachers and learners and challenges faced to teach the subject in Zambian schools. The purpose of this study was to establish the benefits and challenges in the teaching and learning of Computer Studies in Mwandi District, Western Province of Zambia. The study employed a qualitative approach where 16 schools participated in the study. Thirty-two purposively selected respondents, two from each school, participated in the study. Face-to-face interviews and non-participant observations were methods used to collect data. Data was analysed thematically. The findings revealed that there is insufficient ICT infrastructure in schools. Teachers with a bit of knowledge of computers or interest in ICTs are used to teach Computer Studies. The main benefits of having computer knowledge included improved information environment, work performance, communication and employment prospects; innovation and creativity; lifelong learning and greater self-sufficiency. Inadequate ICT facilities/equipment, lack of time to adequately teach computer studies, large teacher/pupil ratio, unreliable or inadequate power supply, lack of trained teachers in ICTs, lack of technical support to maintain and upgrade computing equipment, limited financial resources and lack of Internet connectivity were the main challenges faced towards effective teaching of the subject in schools. The study recommends for trained expertise, increased funding, and acquisition of ICTs equipment and materials in order to teach ICTs effectively.