Teacher preparedness to transition learners from Zambian language literacy to english literacy in grade 3, in Livingstone district, Zambia

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Literacy is at the heart of a learners‟ ability to learn and succeed in the school and beyond. It is essential that all learners from early childhood to Grade 12 are given the best chance to master literacy so that they can meet the challenges of the 21st century. Historically, Zambia has been recording poor literacy levels. Therefore, it is important to ensure that teachers and their schools have the knowledge, skills and support to help the learners acquire literacy skills. The purpose of this study was to establish whether teachers were adequately prepared to transition learners from Zambian language literacy to English literacy in Grade 3. In line with this, it sought to establish how adequately prepared the teachers were to transition learners from literacy in Zambian language to English literacy in grade 3; establish the methods teachers were using in teaching literacy in grade 3 and establish the challenges faced by teachers in managing the transition from Zambian language literacy to English literacy,. The study employed a mixed method descriptive design which involved both quantitative and qualitative methods. Data was collected using questionnaires, lesson observations, interviews and document analysis. A random selection of 6 schools was done in Livingstone District while purposive sampling technique was used to select 6 Heads of schools, 3 Zone Inset Coordinators (ZICs), 6 School Inset Coordinators (SICs), 112 teachers and 1 District Resource Centre Coordinator (DRCC). The study revealed that teachers were not adequately trained during in-set programmes such as workshops, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) meetings and Teacher Group Meetings (TGMs). There was no new English programme or textbooks that were introduced for Grade 3. Older teachers are using the Step Into English (SITE) introduced during the Primary Reading Programme era to teach English literacy. There are also some teachers using Teaching Handwriting, Reading and Spelling Skills (THRASS) cards while new teachers fall back on techniques from the Primary Literacy Programme used to teach Zambian languages and transferred them to English. Another finding was that the teachers‟ attitude to the introduction of English at Grade 3 differed. Some felt that English should be introduced in Grade 1 while others felt that it should be delayed at least up to Grade 4 or 5. Lack of funding at school level to organise the school in-set programs was another issue revealed in the study. Based on the above findings, it was recommended that the Ministry of Education should introduce English literacy courses in colleges, specifically for the transition. It is also recommended that the Ministry of Education should provide Grade 3 English literacy materials and fund in-set programs in schools. Key words: English Literacy, Zambian Language, transition, training, teachers, workshop, preparedness,
English literacy--Study and teaching--Zambia , Zambian languages--Study and teaching--Zambia