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Multigrade teaching, gender and the community in Zambia
Multigrade teaching, gender and the community


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


In    In Zambia the multigrade system had been earlier used during the colonial era. It was reintroduced in 1985 in four schools on a pilot basis, in very remote area. A thorough evaluation of the four schools (Luangwa 1989) showed that the multigrade programme was a success story. In all the schools evaluated, multigrade teaching had minimized the costs of education to the community and family. The new teaching system made it possible for the schools to be upgraded from incomplete Grade 1-4 schools to complete Grade 1-7 primary schools.

E    Education improves the quality of life. The education of girls and women provides considerable additional benefits to society. Educated women have smaller families,fewer of their children die in infancy, and the children who survive are healthier and better educated. Moreover educated women are better prepared to enter the paid labour force,which is critical to the welfare of the many female-headed households in developing countries. Basic education is a right,something that all children should be entitled to and multigrade teaching is the way to it. All children no matter gender, ethnicity, disabilty or poverty have an equal opportunity to acces in multigrade teaching schools and thus have access to quality education.

In    Zambia the attitudes of poor parents and their daughters towards the benefits of education are seldom well understood. Throughout fieldwork Multigrade teachers and community leaders try to make understand the poor parents the value of education and especially the education of girls. But still in Zambia when a household is faced with financial problems priority would be given to boys.

In   In my opinion there are a lot of other barriers, which manipulate girls from attending school. Being traumatised and being excluded from school because you are pregnant,is killing a whole generation. It is the task of the education system and the school to address the community that girls education is needed and that not any barrier should keep them away from school.Teachers in Zambia claim that girls are not motivated to learn as boys and girls tend to be more shy and silent in class. Long distances between homes and schools, and the shortage of proper sanitation for girls could be major factors that affect the supply side. In addition sexual harassment by older boys and male teachers seems to be serious in some schools. At the individual level, the biggest reason for girls to drop out of school is failure to pass exams and be promoted to the next grade.Stereotyped gender roles have been strongly maintained.I think education situation can open the eyes of teachers and education policy makers that boys and girls living in the same poor conditions have to throw their stereotyped roles overboard and think about the future with gender and equality.

M   Multigrade schools are particularly effective in promoting reading achievement over time among low achieving students, especially girls in rural areas.Low achievers in multigrade schools may be advantaged by the opportunities to work with their peers in heterogeneous achievement groups.

A    An active commitment must be made to removing educational disparities. Underserved groups like girls should not suffer any discrimination in access to learning opportunities. It is whether multigrade schools can be supported to offer learning opportunities for girls in situations where the alternative is no access to education.It is prooved that the outcome measures of MTG pupils were cognitive achievement levels in maths and reading and non-cognitive including friendship patterns, self-concept and self-esteem.It is beyond dispute that this teaching situation will advantage all learners especially girls in a boys classroom.Teachers should begin to choose multigrade as their preferred way of grouping, emphasising its value for girl's social development.It is by means of multigrade schools that some areas are able to offer educational opportunities for the most isolated, poor and indigeonous populations where girls are lacking behind.

P    Parents are closer to the school and schools are closer to the parents.So teachers can prevent that girls will be withdrawn form schooling when reaching puberty.The teacher can also stimulate parents to send girls earlier to school so the repetition rates will go down and interruptions in their studies will be reduced.Teachers in multigrade schools can offer significant support for the community and can get good support from parents because they take positive initiatives and effective action to improve girl's achievements.Girls in a multigrade class can show how strong they are in sport, it may open the eyes of the boys and provoke mutual respect.Mixed aged groups of pupils have worked on learning assignments at agriculture plots within the school grounds and parents have supported these initiatives.All this will create a girl friendly atmosphere where children learn collaboratively and actively and where the teacher or the textbook is no longer the source of unquestioned knowledge but where the teacher acts as the facilitator and learner, drawing on the student's own resources for learning.

In developing contexts,MTG teaching provides an excellent opportunity, for the needs of the whole child and the child in his or her community to be recognized and addressed.MTG teaching addresses the health, education and welfare needs of children in the social and community context in which they live.Multigrade teaching is flexibility to encourage creative actions, girls and boys related activities in order to allow creative teaching in culturally different contexts.Flexibility means also integration of gender related activities and integration of pupils from different grade levels and competencies.A MTG teaching curriculum will be an improving of that curriculum by developing subject matter in a way which makes it relevant to the social conditions of the communities and the needs of the children,girls and boys.

Within the Multigrade curriculum ,women and girls should be depicted in a whole range of roles and occupations; making decisions, taking action,initiating ideas and actions,being adventurous and brave as well as being sensitive and caring, being physically active, occupying positions of responsibility.To exclude them is to provide a curriculum that is not relevant to the life experiences of women and girls.Parents,teachers and community leaders should be involved in the re-organization and improvement of the curriculum.The education authorities should prepare instructional plans for teachers where various activities are proposed for use with an emphasis on problem solving and acquiring skills for character and community development.The local community could be invited to participate as tutors,local school-management coordinators, contributors of funds, materials and facilities and para-professional teaching staff such as local experts in arts, culture, handcraft, language, history, religions,etc... Community involvement is an aspect of materials preparation in Zambia. Teachers in MTG Teaching and community persons were making local history books . These teachers and communities have increased responsibilities and involvement in designing pupils worksheets and additional materials.

The MTG teacher is often the most broadly and well educated person in the community ans as such plays an important role as an adviser to pupils and their families in a wide range of social matters.The teacher may be seen as highly respected role model and from whom advice is sought.Thus , the teacher may find that his or her activities are directed not only to students in the school but also to parents and other members of the community.The opportunity excists for the MTG teacher to be assisted in the classroom by parents or like in the Central Province in Zambia by other and older local community members.The MTG teacher needs to train such persons so that the maximum benefit can be achieved from such a valuable resource.