Continuing professional development of community school teachers: A case study of Sinazongwe District

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Sichaaza, Metto Muzyamba
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Since political independence in 1964 the Zambian government has aimed at providing basic education to all its citizens. But the economic difficulties the country faced from the mid 1970s it became increasingly difficult to adequately support education in the country. Due to many factors, the economic situation became worse from the 1980s and among many negative results was the government's inability to adequately fund the education sector at a time when there was increasing demand for it in the country.Less government educational facilities and increasing demand for education in Zambia led to various communities initiating Community Schools (CSs) to provide education for their local children who had never been to school for various reasons and for the out-of-school children mainly those who had dropped out of. In its 1996 national policy on education document Educating Our Future, the Ministry of Education recognised the role of communities in providing education through community schools. By the turn of the 21st century the country saw the mushrooming of Community Schools especially in rural areas where the need for them is still more critical than in urban areas. The seriousness of the Ministry of Education with regard to the establishment of Community Schools in the country was shown when it supported the establishment of an umbrella body, Zambia Community Schools Secretariat(ZCSS) to coordinate all Community Schools in the country in 1996. In the subsequent years the Ministry of Education has not only provided technical support to the Community Schools but has also provided various teaching and learning materials to all registered Community Schools in the country.Many studies have been done on the Community Schools in Zambia. However,there have been no studies on Continuous Professional Development (CPD) in Community Schools in the country, hence this study. The study on CPD and Community Schools was undertaken in the Community Schools in Sinazongwe district in Southern Province. The study aimed at finding out whether community school teachers were receiving Continuous Professional Development in the twenty-seven selected Community Schools in the district and the form of the CPD they were receiving in the study area.The study sample comprised 27 schools, 10 pupils from each selected school,27 Parent Community School Committees (PCSCs) members, 20 government School head teachers, 60 Community School head teachers and 17 Ministry of Education Officials. The study employed qualitative and quantitative research methods for data collection and this included questionnaires, interviews and Focus Group Discussions with different key stakeholders in the provision of education in community schools.Variables relevant to CPD for community school teachers included academic and professional qualifications of teachers, CPD attended, number of times a teacher attended CPD, short or long term CPD attended and local or school-based CPD activities organized by the school. Data analysis revealed that the majority of these community school teachers were untrained and had not received any CPD. It also revealed that most of the CPD the teachers in government Basic Schools received was not extended to community school teachers. Ministry of Education CPD programmes such as Primary Reading Programme (PRP), NBTL, SITE, ROC and SPRINT were not extended to the majority of community school teachers, and the effects of this situation were identified.
Basic Education