Perceptions of Teaching as a Profession as held by Practicing Teachers in Selected High Schools of Lusaka District

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Kamwengo, Mate Maud
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Given that teachers are in a position to assess their perception of teaching as a profession. The present study focused on high school teachers’ perceptions of teaching as a profession and the factors that influenced their perceptions. The purpose of this study was to investigate high school teachers’ perceptions of teaching as a profession in selected high schools in Lusaka District. The study also investigated the high school teachers’ perception of teachers’ as professionals and the factors that influence their perceptions about teaching as a profession. The study was conducted among high school teachers teaching in private, government and mission high schools in Lusaka District. Qualitative data from the teachers was collected through focus group discussions and semi structured interview guides which were used with individual deputy head teachers. While for quantitative data, questionnaires with both open ended and closed ended questions were administered among the high school teachers’. From 79 high schools in Lusaka District, the study sampled 9 high schools, comprising of 10 government high school teachers, 10 private high school teachers and 10 mission high school teachers. A total of 100 questionnaires were distributed but only 80 (n=80) questionnaires were completed and returned, leading to a response rate of 80% percent. The participants included 31 (38.8%) females and 52 (52%) males. This was distributed as 29 government, 25 private and 26 mission high school teachers. Data collected was arranged according to the objectives. Quantitative data (from questionnaires) was analyzed using the SPSS statistical software package version 14 to generate tables of frequencies and percentages. The generated qualitative data were coded and emerging themes were grouped into categories using constant comparative analysis technique. The study found that some of the factors which affected the perception of teaching as a profession among high school teachers included: salary, academic qualification, supervision, conditions of service, and the environment. The study also found that both the private and mission school teachers were considered to be more professional because they were said to uphold professional standards in their practice, unlike the government school teachers. In the occupational professional rating exercise, the teachers ranked a high school teacher 9th out of 20 other occupations, categorising it as a profession. Based on the findings of the study some of the following recommendations were made. The Government should assist schools to solve accommodation problems for teachers, in order to raise the professional status of a teacher and introduce a monitoring body to regulate teachers’ activities and address issues of conduct, licensing, certification, professional standards, delivery of lessons, and disciplinary code (if teachers happen to commit a crime, they should be punished).The training institutions should regulate that all trainee teachers should undergo a standard number of years of training to produce quality teachers and screen applicants wishing to join teaching in order to uphold professional standards. Teachers should change their attitude towards their occupation and reunite under one union with one voice that will address all issues concerning teaching. In addition the school managers, should orient themselves with the profession and professional development so that they are able to apply professional principles effectively in their administration; and facilitate the appraisals of all teachers and recommend (on merit) those who deserve confirmations, promotions and opportunities for further studies to motivate teachers in high schools.
Teaching , Teaching-Profession