An assessment of the quality and relevance of educational provision in community schools of Mkushi

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Mwansa, Albert
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This study tried to find out whether the quality and relevance of the education provided by community schools in selected parts of Mkushi District had an impact on pupils' academic achievement. The study sample consisted of five community schools that were implementing the primary basic education course curriculum. Using the grade seven public examination results, academic achievement among the pupils was assessed by the number of pupils who had passed the examination and were selected into grade eight. The sample had a total number of fifty pupils who were in grade seven, twenty- five community school teachers and twenty-five officials working at the office of the District Education Board Secretary. The qualitative research paradigm was used for data collection and this included questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions with various key and strategic stakeholders in the provision of education. Some variables relevant to the study of quality and relevance in educational provision in community schools were studied. They included academic and professional qualifications of teachers, pre-service and in-service training of teachers, teaching and learning materials, classroom pedagogy, professional supervision and support, assessment, school learning environment and community support. Data analysis was done by categorizing the responses in both descriptive and statistical figures. Triangulation of both qualitative and quantitative techniques was employed. The study revealed that community schools generally suffered from inadequate educational material supplies and professional support in the areas of human resource development. It also showed that the core technology of teaching and learning in community schools involved teachers' teaching of pupils' replication of knowledge and being assessed on the extent to which they retrieved it from memory. Teaching methods in community schools were predominantly teacher centred, as opposed to child centred. The study also revealed that almost all the teachers working in community schools were untrained. In-service training opportunities were equally not fully utilized and the majority of the teachers were not exposed to it at school. The study also showed that Co-ordination and instructional supervision of teachers was also lacking so was quality control on the utility of the teaching and learning materials that were used by community schools. Other findings of the study were that most of the community school teachers did not plan schemes of work and lesson notes and that not all the time-tabled subjects were taught in school. Teachers' guides including the syllabi in almost all the subjects were not available in community schools. Despite all these shortcomings with regard to the factors that contributed to the academic achievement of pupils, the results in community schools were impressive. This was evident by the fact that the transition of Grade 7 pupils into Grade 8 was in the range of 60.2% and 85.3%. Not ignoring other factors identified by literature as influential in enhancing academic achievement, this study singled out some of the factors as critical in the attainment of academic achievement of pupils and these among others included commitment and teachers' support from the community and a good working environment. VI Generally there was a general sense of purpose and a good working relationship with parents, staff and the learners in nearly all the community schools, a factor likely to enhance learning achievement in pupils. There was also professional and organizational commitment among community school teachers. Collective vision was much greater than individual personalities. There was also participative management and shared leadership at various levels of school management. Personal factors of the teacher appeared to have more influence on the enhancement of learning achievement in pupils. Masaazi (1991) supports the view that every education system depends heavily on the teacher. In order to improve the quality and relevance of the education provided by community schools the following measures should be taken: (l)The Ministry of Education should play a more pro-active role in ensuring that the education provided by community schools meets the expectations of both the Zambian society and the international community. Such measures as reformation of the policy document, re-designing the curriculum, setting priorities and increasing investment in education, should be taken. The Ministry should also seek to promote the development of a curriculum that is comprehensive, balanced, integrated and diversified, so that it is more responsive to the needs of an individual child. There is also need to improve upon instructional support, staff development activities, educational supplies, school facilities, the learning environment and the provision of incentives for teachers in community schools.
Education -- Mkushi--Education -- Mkushi , Community and School -- Mkushi--Community and School -- Mkushi , Community education -- Zambia--Community education -- Zambia , Teachers and Community