ARTHUR MWANSA, Mkushi
MOULDING â€œAnother kind of a Teacherâ€. This is the mission statement for the Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) Mkushi College of Education in Central province.
Its teaching programme focuses on providing an all-round education to students preparing them to become zealous teachers with the will, heart and skills to work in rural areas.
The College opened its doors to the first intake in 2012 after it was inspected and approved by the Ministry of Education, Science, Vocational Training and Early Education.
â€œThis institution has brought a lot of joy and pride to most of us. When I first arrived at this College I felt an immediate connection, an instinctive feeling that I belonged here. I am very pleased with the nature of the programme this institution is offering; it is training a multi-skilled teacher to have the passion to teach in the rural area. I am mesmerised by the intellectual of the environment at this Collage,â€ 24 year-old Kawengo Kalunga, one of the first 31students to graduate from Mkushi College of Education said.
Ms Kalunga is excited to be among the people that have been trained by the institution especially that she is coming from a rural set-up of Shangombo district in Western province where the teacher pupil ratio is believed to be unbalanced.Â She has vowed to implement what she has learnt from the college.
â€œIt is my happiest moment to have undertaken a two-year primary school teacher certificate course. I am a born teacher. I developed the interest of becoming I teacher when I was in Grade four. I am enjoying the carrier that I have chosen,â€ she said with a smile.
Ms Kalunga has since called on the College administration to continue with their hard work and commitment of ensuring that more teachers are trained specifically for rural areas where there is urgent need for qualified teachers.
She said â€œMay the administration continue with this kind of work, because by doing so we are going to fight poverty. I will be the happiest person to see this College prosper especially that I am one of the first female students to graduate from this institutionâ€.
In 2009, DAPP signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education to open eight colleges of education across Zambia. Following the MoU, DAPP moved on to open its first college in Mkushi district.
The aim of DAPP Zambia is to create development in communities together with the people by sharing necessary skills, knowledge and tools to fight poverty, illiteracy and disease.
The diversity of the College comes in many forms. The Mkushi College of Education has just introduced a three year diploma course developed in partnership with Ministry of Education. The unique programme of the institution includes studentâ€™s self-studies using computer based training modules, practical skills such as agriculture, national and international travels, studentsâ€™ practical training to neighbouring schools and community work.
For many the desire to come to Mkushi College of Education starts with a visit to the campus. A student Peter Mweene had this to say â€œHere, a teacher is trained holistically to teach in rural areas without hesitation. During our training we have the opportunity to visit different communities, stay and eat with them. The programme at this campus prepares us to easily integrate into the rural communities once we complete our courseâ€.
College manager Kennedy Ngâ€™andu said despite the many achievements the Collage is still faced with a number of challenges. Mr Ngâ€™andu said â€œI am a proud manager, I feel honoured to work with students who are trained to become teachers for rural primary schools, our focus is to work on the mind-set and attitudes so that our student teachers start appreciating the importance of being teachers for rural schools. If we fail to go and work in rural areas children and the community at large would remain forever backward and underdeveloped.
The College is in the process of enrolling students for the coming year to add to the current intake of 40 students. At the colourful first graduation ceremony of 31 students the Minister of Education John Phiri who spoke through his deputy permanent secretary Christine Mayondi said he is happy that DAPP wants to transform the lives of people in rural areas by producing teachers for rural primary schools where demand for teachers is critical.
â€œI wish to urge the private and public sectors to continue and if possible increase their support so that more DAPP teacher training colleges are opened across the country. The Ministry of Education is fully supporting this noble cause,â€ Dr Phiri
The teaching programme at the College is also meant to train the teachers-to-be to command more knowledge and capacities and to equip them with multiple and diverse skills, both to teach the children and to create development in area where they would be posted to upon completion of their studies.
During the graduation ceremony DAPP Zambia managing director, Elise Soerensen, said her institution was committed to training multi-skilled teachers who are willing to reside in rural areas and provide quality education to the children.
She challenged the graduands to provide quality education for primary school learners once deployed in rural and hard-to-reach schools where the demand for teachers was high.
And College principle principal, Frank Chumfwa, said the successful completion of the first intake of the learning institution was a clear indication that the challenges of teachers in rural areas would soon be history in Zambia.
â€œAs a College of Education we are committed to producing teachers with a special attachment to taking up rural responsibilities without any form of excuses or demands for transfers to urban schools,â€ Mr Chumfwa said.
DAPP should be commended for taking up the challenge of providing education to the nation through such training so that disadvantaged rural communities also get their share of the national cake. The college is affiliated to the University of Zambia.
ARTHUR MWANSA, Mkushi