Training of in-service teachers

…to reduce the vulnerability of children in their classrooms

As a teacher, how do you provide an answer to the educational needs of vulnerable children in your classroom? How do you recognise and deal with the vulnerability of student teachers under your care? And how do you deal with your own vulnerability? These are questions that teacher education colleges are trying to help teachers find answers to, through a number of in-service training initiatives.

In the first phase of the programme (2008-2010) colleges managed to reach out to a considerable number of teachers. This was made possible through additional funding, mainly from UNICEF. In-service training initiatives focused on a number of vulnerability related themes affecting the education sector and the training of teachers:

Teaching Practice mentors

Teacher education institutions have a mandate to provide training to in-service teachers, particularly in relation to mentorship issues for their students on teaching practice. Many colleges, with their Teaching Practice Departments often in the lead, are reaching out to the mentors of the schools where they send their students on teaching practice. The ‘2-5-2’ system, being used in Zimbabwe’s training for primary school teachers, means that student teachers spend more time (5 terms) attached to a primary school, than they spend in college (4 terms). The capacity of college lecturers to supervise their students on teaching practice is limited, rendering the role of the mentor very crucial in the training of new teachers. Shiella tells us how taking part in a workshop organised by Marymount Teachers’ College changed how she relates to the student teachers at her school.

Inclusive Education

“Are resource units for special needs children really functional in the schools? What support do specialist teachers get from the school system to help them perform their roles as specialist teachers in functional resource units? Are people playing their roles in support of the several initiatives by government to move towards inclusive education...?”

These questions and many other related questions gave birth to the idea of an In-service Training on Inclusive Education at United College of Education. Two workshops for in-service training followed, reaching over 500 teachers in 2010. With their initiatives, the college wanted to contribute to making resource units for special needs children at the schools more functional for quality education. “We all learn differently” was the main theme of the UCE training, with a specific focus on attitude choices of the teachers and learning difficulties/differences, particularly focusing on Dyslexia.


The ZEBRA project worked with teachers to address issues of: 

  • participatory HIV/AIDS and life skills teaching and learning
  • Counselling.
  • Gender
  • Prevention of child abuse

This workshop starts from the teacher’s own, often challenging, situation and vulnerability. In a second step, the relationship with the pupils in general is explored. In a third step, the teacher’s relationship with the vulnerable child is the focus: how do you respond to suspected child abuse? The teacher is equipped with some basic counselling and referral skills.

The project proposal sent to UNICEF and report for the August 2007 ZEBRA workshop.

Improving Food Security through empowerment of schools

This is a training programme for primary school teachers as part of the UNICEF / FAO Livelihoods Programme ‘Improving Food Security through Empowerment of Schools’. The training programme focuses on water, sanitation, health, nutrition and environment education. Emphasis lies on participatory methodologies and approaches that can be used by the teachers with the children and the communities.

Cholera prevention and hygiene promotion, a response to the Cholera outbreak of 2008/2009

This is a one-day participatory training for school communities, building upon the experiences and knowledge of the participants.  It focuses on alternative teaching methodologies to work with children on hygiene-related issues and hopes to reduce the vulnerability of the children to cholera.

In all of the above, VVOB supports the colleges in focused planning and reflection on ideas to reach out to teachers. It also assists colleges to develop participatory training programmes with teachers.