Recognizing the importance of Early Childhood Education (ECE) as a strong foundation for future learning, in 2014 the Ministry of General Education of Zambia (MoGE) took up the responsibility of ECE provision in the country, committing to providing all Zambian children with ECE. Prior to this, ECE was a preserve of the wealthier members of society and service provision in this sub-sector was in the hands of private institutions. The immediate concern was the limited amount of well trained teachers to teach ECE. Up to that time, in fact, only two government colleges provided an ECE certificate training for teachers, without a fixed curriculum. The situation in private colleges was no different, so the issue of quality and harmonization of standards of delivery became a grave concern to all stakeholders.
To address this, MoGE developed a 2-year ECE Teacher Education Certificate Curriculum, later transformed into a 3 year diploma, in line with teachers in primary and lower secondary, to be implemented across all Teacher Training Colleges. It was soon very clear that the institutions needed support to implement it.
That is when the idea for a lecturer’s guide was born. The guide would help lecturers on content, teaching methods, student activities, materials required, and guidance on how to assess for each specific outcome in the syllabus.
Teams consisting of lecturers, VVOB as well as staff from MoGE’s Teacher Education and Examinations Council of Zambia were set up to develop, trial and review drafts of the guides before these were finalized. However, a common trend was that the teams kept struggling with activities for student teachers, recognizing that they could not be treated like ECE pupils.
Good alternatives for passing on skills on ECE level methodologies remained a challenge for the teams, even after the guides were finalized.
This is an area that will be further expanded and worked on by VVOB and partners and is a core component of the Strengthening Teacher Education for Early Learning (STEEL), which runs from 2107 to 2021. Within the framework of STEEL, VVOB will support the MoGE on effective teaching at the level of the lecturers and the teachers already in schools, by strengthening their skills in instructional strategies, questioning techniques, providing feedback, engaging learners and setting clear outcomes for their lessons, which are all critical areas for effective pedagogy, backed by research. In line with VVOB’s commitment to gender responsive teaching, all lecturer’s guides were then proofread by a team from the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Zambia (FAWEZA) to eliminate any gender biases.
The lecturer’s guide was printed as separate booklets per subject per year to make it possible to provide each lecturer involved in ECE teacher education with the relevant sections of the guide without the need to print a full copy of the guide for each lecturer.
Sets of the guide have been distributed to both government and private colleges and are being used widely, supporting lecturers and teachers to offer quality ECE in Zambia and cementing the partnership for quality education between MoGE and VVOB even further.