The University of Zambia environmental education practicum in Lusaka district

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Chimba, Kafula
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The University of Zambia
This study was an investigation on the benefits and challenges of UNZA-EE student practicum in selected attaching institutions in Lusaka District of Zambia. The study was conducted because there was an information gap on the benefits and challenges students faced during their EE practicum at the University of Zambia and attaching institutions. There seems to be very little knowledge about the benefits and challenges of UNZA-EE practicum at the University of Zambia and attaching institutions, hence the need to conduct this study. The study was conducted at the University of Zambia and 10 selected attaching institutions. This study was concurrent embedded mixed method study. The data collection methods used were semi-structured interviews and questionnaire from a sample of ninety seven (97) respondents. The sample comprised 67 UNZA-EE (2018) fourth year students, 10 EE graduates, 10 UNZA -EE lecturers and 10 officers from selected attaching institution. UNZA-EE (2018) fourth year students were sampled using simple random sampling for quantitative data while purposive sampling was used to sample UNZA-EE lecturers, EE graduates and officers from attaching institutions. Qualitative data was analyzed using thematic approach while quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics in form of tables and charts were generated using Special Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), and in some instance Microsoft Word and Excel were used. The study revealed that the practicum was an essential component of the EE programme because of the benefits students accrued. The benefits accrued included: increased knowledge in Environmental Issues, acquired new knowledge and exposure from industry, ability to work interdependent and independent and developed moral standards to the environment. The study also established that there were more challenges and areas in need of improvement about UNZA-EE practicum. Challenges such as poor orientation to practical work at the University of Zambia and attaching institutions, insufficient preparation on EE practicum course work at the university, inadequate evaluation process by UNZA among others. Areas in need of improvement included clarity on the nature of tasks assigned by attaching institutions, poor writing skills and standardized of final attachment preparation reports, inadequate funding for visits by university lecturers among others. Furthermore, the study established that although the practicum was not that beneficial, it was essential to the trainee students. The study concluded that the UNZA-EE practicum was not very beneficial mainly because the challenges and areas in need of improvement about it outweighed its benefits. Most of these challenges were caused by poor funding of practicals and also lack of funds for effective monitoring and observation of students during their practicum. Inadequate funding had negatively affected the implementation and administration of the practicum programme at UNZA. The study further recommended that government through the Ministry of Higher Education should increase funding to the University of Zambia, particularly the School of Education and specifically the Environmental Education Unit. Key words: Attaching institutions, benefits, challenges, practicum, areas of improvement and way forward.
Practicum--Benefits and challenges--Zambia , Student practicum--Zambia