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“The more the learners take control of their learning, the more they find the learning process a pleasure and the more I enjoy my work too”. (Sr. Banda Matilda, Teacher in Charge).

Forty five community school Teachers In Charge (TICs, or head teachers) were trained during a specially designed short course at Chalimbana University in July 2013. The objective of the training was to improve the skills of TICs in guiding teachers in the use of Active Teaching and Learning methods. Another objective was to improve community involvement in the school to ensure children learn in a conducive learning environment.

One of the VVOB ECSITE project objectives is to upgrade community school teachers, so that they develop skills to use more active and child-centred methods. However, when teachers are not encouraged to make use of the newly acquired skills, there is a risk of falling back into old patterns. Therefore, one of the first major activities in the ECSITE project was to train a group of TICs to take a guiding role in encouraging teachers to use Active Teaching and Learning methods.

The trained TICs were selected from community schools in 6 districts where the ECSITE project operates: Ndola (10), Mumbwa (8), Mufulira (6), Kitwe (9), Chibombo (8) and Serenje (4).

The ATL course consisted of five units: Instructional Leadership and Curriculum Management, the School and the Community, Physical Resource Management, Effective Instructional Strategies and Critical and Creative Thinking.

The course was divided in two components, namely, a 4-day residential session at the University and a distance learning mode during which the course participants were given work-place based tasks. The selected TICs come from 45 zones in six targeted districts. The trained TICs are now expected to pass on their acquired skills in active teaching and learning to the rest of the TICs in their zones.

The next step will be to go out monitoring to see the effect of the training within the schools as well as within the zones. Below a testimony of one of the participants gives a real picture of the usefulness of the course.

The ATL Course Testimony by Sr. Banda Matilda

Natwange Youth Village Community School; Chipulukusu, Ndola

The ATL course we did at NISTCOL has revolutionised my teaching and other ways I manage Natwange Youth Village Community School. One of the strategies we learned is the Frayer Model. I use this method a lot in my History class which is one of the subjects I teach. Using the Frayer Model has increased the level of involvement of learners in my History classes at this school. It also makes my children more independent in their lessons.

But that is not all. The Frayer Model helps to organise my work and makes the subject content easier to learn. The work remains on the chart for sometime in the classroom for reference by the learners. So the learners use it as a resource for their studies. I have so far shared this delivery strategy and other delivery techniques with other teachers at my school. I am yet to assess to see whether the test results for my learners in my classes will improve at the end of the year.

Although I have chosen the Frayer Model, there are other delivery strategies and other topics we learned at NISTCOL which have helped me a lot at this school. For example, what we learned on Preventive Maintenance has helped to change the surroundings at this school. So we are now applying some of the things we learned during the ATL course to change the outlook of the school.

The goodness with the ATL course is that the tutors use these techniques when they were teaching at the college. I am now looking forward to sharing these techniques with other head teachers in my zone.