by Priscilla Chama and Janet Condy
In an exhilarating graduation ceremony, the Government of the Republic of Zambia paid tribute to ChildFund and the International Reading Association for equipping teachers with the latest child-centered teaching methodologies. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Mrs. Mirriam Chonya explained that the Active Teaching and Learning Approaches (ATLAS) program that the two organizations have been implementing since 2008 is key to the improvement of the country’s education sector.
Mrs. Chonya’s speech was read for her by the Chief Education Officer at the graduation ceremony of 35 teachers who participated in the third phase of the ATLAS training program. “We are aware that with the implementation of the free and compulsory education policy that government has embarked on, the need for qualified teachers and the availability of learning materials in all schools cannot be over-emphasized,” she explained. “The ATLAS program thus fits in very well with our policy of not just increasing access but also improving the quality of education for the learners.”
Mrs. Chonya also noted that it was only through quality education that poor children and their families could come out of poverty and be assured of a better future. ChildFund National Director, Ely Keita, re-affirmed the agency’s commitment to the issue of ensuring that teachers are equipped with the necessary skills to enable them to meet the changing needs in the education sector.
“ChildFund recognises the importance of skills development for teachers if the quality of education is to be improved. We also realize that teacher professional development programs play a vital role in increased student achievement.” He further told the gathering that ATLAS has had a huge impact on the participating schools in Mumbwa district and that ChildFund has started the process of replicating the program in Luangwa district.
At the same occasion Professor Janet Condy, the trainer from the International Reading Association, urged the graduating teachers to use the skills they acquired from the training to make learning more creative, participatory and fun. Graduating teachers (Ntiya Michelo, Isaac Kamanga, and Edinah Kaale) gave glowing testimonies of how the ATLAS program had made teaching easier and enjoyable for them and their learners. They all explained that the performance of the pupils had improved greatly now that they were no longer passive listeners during the learning process but actively participate in the lessons.
Patricia Chisenga, one of the Master Trainers, explained that the new skills will help the teachers improve the pass rates for learners. “We are very confident that the skills from ATLAS will enable us to teach effectively, and it is for this reason that I wish to appeal to ChildFund and the International Reading Association to ensure that the program is rolled out in all the schools around the country,”
After the graduation ceremony, participating schools received a large box full of different types of local readers. These readers were donated by the International Reading Association as well as Macmillan and Longman in Zambia. The project team is starting the third Phase in Luwangua district.
Pictured from left to right: Victor Longwani (Education Standards Officer), Zikani Kaira (District Education Standards Offi cer), Theresa Sitali (District Education Board Secretary), Martin Simatende (Provincial Education Standards Officer), Ely Keita ChildFund National Director, Dr. Vincent Chiyonga (Chief Education Officer), Janet Condy (IRA), and Doras Chirwa (ChildFund Programs Director)
Colliam Chitaya (Lead Teacher) shows his certifi cate with Doras Chirwa (ChildFund Programs Director)
Ely Keita (ChildFund National Director) hands over books to a head teacher from one of the participating schools
Priscilla Chama is the Communications Manager at ChildFund Zambia, email@example.com. Janet Condy is an International Literacy Volunteer with the International Reading Association, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is reprinted from the April/May 2012 issue of Reading Today, the International Reading Association's bimonthly member magazine. Members: click here to read the issue. Nonmembers: join now!