Since project inception, Transforming Teacher Education (TTE) has identified quality, practical pre-service teacher training as central to improving learning outcomes for children. In this regard, TTE has conducted trainings for teacher educators in its partner COEs and universities. These trainings include the Graduate Foundational Literacy Course (GFLC) as well as the literacy and language module trainings. Led by a team of literacy experts, including specialists from Florida State University (FSU), University of Zambia (UNZA), and the local TTE team, the trainings have so far reached 72 teacher educators.
Following implementation of the GFLC and module trainings, Professor David Mwanza, from UNZA’s Department of Language and Social Sciences Education and the TTE lead at UNZA, observed that the content covered in the trainings bore many similarities to the courses in the first year of the UNZA’s Literacy, Language, and Applied Linguistics master’s degree program. Against this background, Professor Mwanza submitted a proposal to UNZA’s academics committee to enable COE teacher educators who successfully participated in and completed relevant TTE trainings to be eligible for the master’s degree program and exempted from the first year of study in the program. This proposal was placed under review and approved in Q1. Through collaboration with TTE, the UNZA master’s degree program provides an opportunity for eligible teacher educators to complete the normally two-year program in one year.
One eligible COE teacher educator who was accepted into UNZA’s special master’s degree program is Charity Mulenga, currently acting Head of Section at Mansa COE. “I am thrilled to be accepted into the University of Zambia to study towards my master’s degree in literacy, a subject I chose because it has always been my passion. In addition to the opportunity to advance my studies, the TTE project has given me the skills, confidence, and materials I needed to teach effectively in the Primary Teaching Diploma (PTD) program. I am a proud product of the TTE project!”
Charity explained, “Undertaking TTE trainings gave me the knowledge and skills to apply for and be successful in securing entry into the UNZA master’s degree program. In addition to the master’s degree, the hands-on support I have received during the trainings has completely transformed the way I teach in the classroom. I have acquired new skills and employ a lot of new strategies when I teach student teachers.”
Upon graduation from UNZA, Charity plans to spearhead continuous professional development meetings in areas of literacy at Mansa COE. She also intends to share her expertise by training her fellow teacher educators on conducting research activities.
Dean Bentry Nkhata who heads UNZA’s School of Education says of the master’s degree program: “The University of Zambia is proud to partner with TTE to provide all the literacy and language education department teacher educators with an opportunity to gain a master’s degree qualification. When we first partnered on this project, we had no idea that we could achieve this level of impact in this area!”