Camara’s Zambia programme has thrived in the past few years thanks to the persistent efforts of our staff, the efficacy of our partnerships and the beneficial parallels that exist between Zambian education policy and our own goals as an organisation. Through a process of investigation into the Zambian education sector, in conjunction with Irish Aid, Camara sought to ascertain whether or not our educational delivery model was suitable for Zambia.
By undertaking a comprehensive contextual analysis, we will be “in a position to refactor (our) educational delivery model to support the Ministry of Education’s focus on the integration of ICT into the teaching and learning practices of Zambian teachers, which will ultimately add value to the learning practices of students throughout Zambia”, according to Keith Magee, our Senior Education Specialist who is spearheading the education initiatives across Camara.
Virtually all policy documents within Zambia acknowledge the importance of ICT in the improvement of an individual’s economic conditions. With formal education being the focal point of skill acquisition, programmes like Camara’s (ones that champion the integration of ICT into education) have found a very encouraging environment in which to flourish.
The policies and initiatives advocated by Zambia’s Ministry have, by and large, been very much in line with the developmental strategy favoured by our social enterprise model. Camara’s core objectives have all managed to conform to the aims and ambitions of Zambian policy, as illustrated through our continued provision of training (to teachers, managers and other educators), technical support and educational content.
We are leaders in the area of ICT education. We chair the ICT subcommittee and sit on the Teacher Training Subcommittee for the Projects Coordinating Committee (PCC) in Zambia. This PCC is for all NGOs and Civil Society Organisations that work within the MoE remit. The PCC advocate changes on behalf of the NGOs and CSOs to the MoE.
One of Camara’s primary strategic objectives involves proving the efficiency of our model by exhibiting its perceptible impact on digital literacy in Zambia. The growth of our efforts is directly proportional to the demands of users; the quality of the content and services we deliver can be upgraded and improved if user demand warrants increased usage. However, the model’s implementation is not without its challenges. While policies are indeed supportive of ICT integration, Camara programming has consistently taken into account that the process of translating a favourable climate into a pragmatic strategy often poses complications.
Quality is a key issue. There currently exists no institution in Zambia that can legitimately train ICT teachers/lecturers to give them a grounding in the theory. There is also no publicised programmes for the integration of ICT into education likely to impact the wider educational community. In spite of this, Camara is already supporting the expansion of teacher capacity in the area of in-service training. By incorporating the Camara teacher-training procedures into the pre-service teacher curriculum already approved, our capacity to fully integrate our programme can be strengthened significantly.
The successful navigation of potential pitfalls within Zambian policy has been just one of the successes of the Camara programme. Our hands-on approach requires an intermediary (ie the teacher) to deliver it, which we believe has bolstered digital literacy overall. Camara’s approach, despite its prerequisite of a specialised room (ie the lab), still facilitates teachers to do what it is they do best: impart reading, writing and research skills in a manner that is both honest and forthright. This fosters a classroom culture where confidence in ICT usage is increased in teachers and students simultaneously.
We market our programme as one that truly provides 21st century IT skills in a direct, integrated fashion. The programme cultivates a dynamic, learner-focused strategy that is proven to increase learner motivation through direct empowerment, leading to better learner performance. This model’s intention is to bring about an overall improvement in education standards. Our work here is not done: more space for technology in schools is required, and the competence levels of as many as 77,961 teachers must be assessed so as to inform and shape future training programmes.