Early this year, VVOB signed a Memorandum of Understanding with LUCA School of Arts. LUCA is the only college in Flanders exclusively dedicated to art and architecture. This college will support VVOB in its Early Childhood Education (ECE) Programmes, focusing on the integration of arts to enhance the quality of teaching and learning.
A first activity within this partnership was the visit of two lecturers of LUCA, Nancy Vansieleghem and Gerda Dendooven, in May 2015. They joined the VVOB Zambia team for six days, visiting ECE centres and providing workshops to in-service teacher trainers, teachers and lecturers of colleges of education.
Community Early Childhood Centres
Gerda and Nancy visited Bwafwano and Minoko Community schools in Ndola district. These schools are supported through the QEECS project. This project focuses on quality early education in community schools and is co-funded by the EU and the Belgian Government. The lecturers from LUCA were inspired by the motivation of the teachers, despite the challenging conditions. Classrooms are in a poor state, learning materials are limited and there are large numbers of children in each class. In both schools we observed how the parents and community join the efforts of the teachers to improve the learning environment, for example through building extra classrooms.
In the Teacher Resource Centre of Ndola a two-day workshop took place to orient the in-service teacher trainers and ECE teachers from Ndola and Kitwe on the new ECE syllabi and instructional materials. The LUCA lecturers facilitated interactive sessions on how to enhance the communication between the child, teacher and parents, using Arts. The lecturers explained the different stages in artistic development in young children, and discussed how Arts can help deepen the learning of young children by helping them observe and explore the world around them. In the afternoon, participants had the opportunity to try out activities with the children of the ECE centre at Buyantanshi Community School. The ECE teachers, supported by Nancy and Gerda, led the children in several drawing activities; putting the theory into practice.
The Belgian visitors also shared their passion for arts with the lecturers of six ECE colleges in Zambia. A group of 20 lecturers, specialised in ECE and/or Arts attended a two-day workshop in Lusaka. The workshop ‘Experiencing the child’s journey through Art’ consisted of a combination of theories and practical exercises, a methodology much appreciated by the participants. Discussions on different approaches in art education, on art in ECE, and on ‘misconceptions in art’ were heated but entertaining. Practical activities included binding sketch books, designing a ‘cabinet of wonders’ in the classroom, making an encyclopaedia with children’s drawings and more.
The beginning, not the end
This mission was a very interesting start of the collaboration between LUCA and VVOB. Together we will follow-up how teachers and lecturers implement the acquired skills and knowledge on arts in their teaching.
We look forward to other opportunities for VVOB programmes to benefit from the expertise at LUCA –School of Arts!