VVOB’s fruitful two-year partnership with the ELMA Foundation on early childhood education in Zambia generated an institutionalised system of teaching practice for early childhood student teachers.
Before the start of the partnership between the ELMA Foundation and VVOB, only two public Colleges of Education offered early childhood teacher education in Zambia, each delivering approximately 20 teachers per year. Private institutions filled the gap. The quality of the ECE teacher education provided was often debatable.
Recognising the importance of ECE, the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) urged more Colleges of Education to take up ECE as a core in their teacher training. The Colleges of Chipata, Kasama, Kitwe, Livingstone and Serenje accepted the challenge. The colleges understood that this would require developing additional capacity if they were to uphold certain standards of a quality teacher education. This is where ELMA and VVOB offered their expertise.
Ensuring that teachers have the competences and motivation to perform well is key to guaranteeing educational quality and equity. Given the increased number of teacher training institutions that offer ECE programmes in Zambia, and thus the increased number of ECE student teachers, the project focused on improving mentoring and supervision of student teachers of the colleges during their teaching practice.
This project has several concrete results, all contributing to an institutionalised teaching practice system that adequately preps student teachers for their future profession:
- A formal institutionalised system for ECE student teachers on teaching practice is now in place. It includes pre-service and in-service structures, and is overseen by the government’s directorate Teacher Education Specialized Services (TESS). The structure includes a clear set of roles, responsibilities, and tools for mentorship as well as a team of skilled facilitators who can conduct trainings on mentorship for ECE.
- Initial trainings of trainers by college partners from Zimbabwe and Belgium resulted in a core team of trainers from colleges and local ministry structures in five provinces. This team conducted 18 trainings on mentorship for over 100 ECE lecturers and 416 ECE teachers and school leaders.
- A national meeting brought together all stakeholders involved in the mentorship process to finalise and adopt mentorship tools, and to standardise and reconcile teaching documents for ECE teaching practice. TESS submitted the teaching practice system and tools for endorsement by MoGE, and they will be circulated in 2017 following approval.
- At college level, ECE teaching practice committees were established. They are active in 6 colleges. ECE lecturers and school teachers were equipped with mentorship skills, while management teams of the colleges and demonstration schools were made aware of mentorship.
Capacity development was conducted in partnership with TESS, the MoGE’s ECE Directorate, Belgian partners, and Zimbabwean partner colleges.
The ELMA Foundation and VVOB are both big supporters of early childhood education. During those early years, how a child learns and develops — mentally, emotionally and socially — is critical for the child’s future success. Despite the ever-increasing understanding of the benefits of early learning as well as the negative repercussions of neglecting it, high-quality early education programmes are often out of reach for many young African children. Collaboration between the ELMA Foundation and VVOB is therefore built on the mutual ambition to ensure access to quality ECE provided by well-trained teachers and managed by skilled school managers.
VVOB is looking forward to more partnerships with the ELMA Foundation.