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Multigrade teaching, gender and the community in Zambia


Multigrade teaching, gender and the community
Learning ,education and development.


Research has shown several positive effects of decentralization on schools and education, such as:

Resources collection at the local level.

Classroom construction and equipment.

Pupils recruitment (particularly of girls).

Monitoring of pupils attendance and results.

Provision of textbooks and didactic materials.

Community involvement in teachers hiring, salary and housing.

Decentralization reinforces schools appropriation by local communities and stimulates the dialogue on multigrade education, at the same time it increases the relevance of school learning by taking in consideration specific local needs. Multigrade teaching lends itself to that situation. This teaching method has a considerable success in terms of underprivileged childrens access to primary education .In the beginning of my stay in Zambia I cooperated with the Lusaka Province in-service team. The surface of the Lusaka Province is the same as Belgium including the four districts (Kafue, Lusaka urban, Luangwa Boma and Chongwe).Every district has well equipped resource centres and several zone centres. When we initiated a new programme, for example the Multigrade Teaching Programme, we brought together all the district education officers to the provincial resource centre of Lusaka (the coordinator of a resource centre, the inspector, the education officer) and taught them in MTG teaching.On their turn they trained all the inset providers (zone and school inset provider) in the district resource centre. The training was very practical with a lot of of concrete examples of real multigrade classroom situations.A lot of attention was paid to lesson preparations and the use of local topics.Multigrade teaching is often associated with schools in remote area and difficult contexts often they have to deal with few resources available, given the poverty of the region in which this type of teaching is found. Multigrade classes are smaller and can be established more cheaply than complete schools, therefore more dispersed and thus located closer to the settlements where the children live. This means both that younger children can attend and that the time children spend travelling between school and home can be reduced.This gives them the possibility to continue to contribute to the family's economic activity, what makes attending school more acceptable and will lead to an increase of the number of children receiving education.Multigrade schools, being smaller and more dispersed, would be able to create much closer relationships with the smaller communities to which they belong .This would have a very positive effect on local attitudes and access to education.

An anecdotic story, shows the importance of previous introduction. During my stay in Central Province, I did a small research about the attendance rate of girls to multigrade schools. I made several visits to families, some of them were sending their children to MTG schools, others preferred not to attend for several reasons. During my visits I was accompanied by a local Chief (female).We explained the Multigrade system and the need of the involvement of the parents and the local community.