Challenges and opportunities of teaching geography in junior secondary school social studies: a study of selected schools in Serenje district-Zambia.

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Simfukwe, Frank
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University of Zambia
The aim of this study was to investigate the challenges and opportunities presented by teaching and learning of Geography as part of Social Studies at Junior Secondary School level in Serenje district of the Central Province in Zambia. The objectives of the study were to ascertain the challenges faced by learners when learning Geography in Social Studies in selected secondary schools in the district; to investigate the challenges faced by teachers in the delivery of the Geography component in Social Studies in the selected secondary schools; and to explore the opportunities that would facilitate improved teaching and learning of Social Studies in secondary schools in Zambia. A descriptive research design utilising the qualitative approach was used in conducting the study. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, lesson observation, and document analysis. The sample of participants comprised four heads of the Social Sciences department, sixteen teachers of Social Studies and sixteen learners. All the participants were purposively sampled with a view that they were knowledgeable and well informed about the subject under investigation. The data were analysed using thematic analysis and presented as verbatim quotes. The study revealed that teachers lacked training in teaching Social Studies (hence lacked both content knowledge and pedagogical know-how); teachers mostly used teacher exposition, with low-levels of active learner involvement; there was a paucity of teaching and learning materials for the Geography component; some learners at junior secondary school level were of low calibre because of the automatic qualification policy; and there was no robust monitoring of teachers either by school authorities or district inspectors. Lack of subject content knowledge by teachers deprived learners of the necessary information required for them to excel in the subject. Topics that posed a challenge for teachers were sometimes deliberately ignored or skipped. Lack of pedagogical know-how meant that teachers mostly used the transmission method to teach Geography, a subject which otherwise requires active participation of the learners. Lack of learning materials, particularly textbooks, meant that learners received instruction without learning aids, which made learning difficult. The syllabus for Social Studies was distributed to all the schools but without textbooks and other materials to support teaching and learning. Also, lack of monitoring resulted in laxity on the part of teachers who resorted to note-giving instead of actually teaching. Based on these findings, the following recommendations were made: the government should, as a matter of urgency, deploy teachers who are trained to teach Social Studies; government should supply schools with necessary requisites for teaching and learning Social Studies while schools, on their part, should find ways of obtaining relevant Geography teaching and learning materials; schools could revert to the old system (of separated Geography, History and Civics) until such a time as necessary arrangements are put in place for teaching and learning Social Studies; teacher competency should be improved through vigorous in-service training (or capacity building) and CPD). Further studies can be conducted on the short comings concerning the junior secondary social studies.
Human geography--Study and teaching (Higher). , Geography education, Social Studies, teaching.
Simfukwe, F. (2023). Challenges and opportunities of teaching Geography in Junior Secondary School Social Studies: A Study of Selected Schools in Serenje District- Zambia [Masters].