In the three years since USAID launched the Transforming Teacher Education Activity in Zambia, Florida State University, STS, and the University of Zambia have worked with the Zambian Ministry of Education to strengthen the capacity of teacher training institutions. As part of the objective to standardize, align, and link practical, evidence-based, pre-service teacher training and content with the primary school literacy curriculum, the consortium developed six modules—three focused on teaching literacy in the early grades and three focused on teaching languages in the early grades. Each module was designed for faculty and lecturers working at teacher training institutions in Zambia.
The goal behind the modules was to create a revolutionized language and literacy approach, as each module aimed to help faculty align their instruction with real-world early grade instruction in Zambia. Part of TTE’s goal was to shift faculty away from a lecture-reliant approach and allow their students (pre-service teachers) more control over their learning. Each module presented a sequent set of topics that build around a common theme. The modules include philosophical and scholarly underpinnings for language and literacy instruction as well as hands-on activities and “assignments” for pre-service teachers. The modules make a point to include local language examples and resources throughout, connecting Zambia’s national curriculum with practical instruction.
To develop the content for each module, TTE staff gathered a team of literacy, language, and education experts across the United States and Zambia for an iterative development series. Experts came from the following organizations:
- University of Zambia
- Zambian Ministry of Education
- Zambian Colleges of Education
- Zambian Universities
- Learning Systems Institute at Florida State University (LSI)
- School-to-School International (STS)
The content team began by fully developing the first module in each series—Language Module 1 and Literacy Module 1. In this process, a rough draft of each module was developed and sent to a review committee consisting of faculty members from the University of Zambia for detailed feedback. The content team made adjustments and added new sections based on this feedback. Draft modules were shared with USAID/Zambia, who offered further refinement before finalized modules were designed and printed. TTE staff then met in person with faculty and lecturers to train on the contents of the modules, answer questions, coach on best practices, and begin the implementation process in classrooms across teacher training institutions. Following the full rollout of Language Module 1 and Literacy Module 1, TTE staff solicited feedback from all stakeholders to improve the process before developing Language Modules 2 and 3 and Literacy Modules 2 and 3.
With the aforementioned process improvements, the content for Language Modules 2 and 3 and Literacy Modules 2 and 3 was developed during a series of four writing workshops in the spring of 2022. As with Modules 1, these subsequent modules went through the same iterative review and improvement process with faculty from the University of Zambia. Completed versions of all four modules were copyedited and designed by STS’s communications department and sent to USAID/Zambia for approval. Approved versions were printed in Zambia, and TTE trained 69 language and literacy lecturers on their contents during the winter of 2022 and spring of 2023. TTE provided electronic versions of all six modules to universities for lecturers’ future use.
Since the modules were launched, educators already feel more confident and equipped to train pre-service teachers. As Edith Sitoka, senior lecturer at Chalimbana University, wrote, “I feel better equipped to guide my students and deliver quality lessons thanks to the transformative coaching and support I received from TTE.” All those involved in the TTE activity are eager to see the full impact the modules will have over the coming years.