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27/06/2017

Early Childhood Education (ECE) became a concern of the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) in Zambia in 2004. However, ECE began getting promoted at a larger scale only in 2013, with the Ministry announcing that it would put ECE teachers on payroll and open ECE centres around the country. One immediate concern was to find trained teachers. Up to that time, just 2 government colleges provided an ECE certificate training for a small group of students and without a fixed curriculum. The situation in private colleges was no different. To address this, MoGE developed a 2-year ECE Teacher Education Certificate Curriculum to be implemented across all Teacher Training Colleges in the country. It was soon clear that all the Teacher Training Colleges needed support to implement the curriculum. That is when the idea for a lecturer’s guide was born. At first it was thought that producing a lecturer’s guide could be accomplished in a single workshop. The guide would help lecturers on content, teaching methods, student activities, materials required, and how to assess for each specific outcome in the syllabus. A background was given per topic and there was an introduction for each subtopic. Soon after this workshop, the qualification for ECE teachers was upgraded to diploma level, in line with teachers in primary and lower secondary. In the second workshop participants tried to align the draft sections of the lecturer’s guide with the new three-year diploma syllabus. It also became clear that the amount of work was much more than anticipated, necessitating a third workshop in early 2015 to complete the guide for year 1. The assessment scheme for the ECE Teacher Education Diploma course by ECZ caused a drastic reorganization of the syllabus, necessitating a complete revision of the year 1 lecturer’s guide. Several weaknesses were uncovered, especially on content. While researching this content, some issues with the syllabus were noticed as well; important content was omitted, for instance in ECE methodology, and certain topics overlapped between subjects or were misplaced in the wrong subject. TESS and ECZ encouraged the development teams to address these shortcomings. The lecturer’s guides for year 1 and year 2 were finished in draft during a workshop in January 2016. By this time, working on content had become routine. However, one area that teams kept struggling with were activities for students. It was recognized that students did not have to be treated like ECE pupils, but it was a major challenge to come up with good alternatives. This challenge was not fully resolved in the development process as time was running out to complete the guide in late 2017. All lecturer’s guides were proofread by a team from the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Zambia (FAWEZA) on gender language. Lay-outing of the guides was done by Emeline Lemmens, a volunteer working for VVOB in the Zambia office. 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. The lecturer’s guides 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. Work on quality teacher education for ECE has not ended with this guide but the focus of this work has moved from content to methodology to improve the transmission of knowledge. Within the current Strengthening Teacher Education for Early Education (STEEL, 2017 to 2021), 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.