MA in Education, UCD
In 2010, Lina Simpson Mbewe took a study break from her role with Zambia’s Ministry of Education as a Provincial Resource Centre Co-ordinator, where she was in charge of in-service teacher training programmes for primary and high schools. She had received a one year Masters' scholarship at University College Dublin under the Irish Aid Fellowship Training Programme.
I co-ordinate the in-service activities for teachers and am involved in training when there are new pedagogies, strategies and methodologies that have come on board. I work with a team of other officers such as school inspectors. Our routine work involves visiting teachers to see how they are doing and what problems they face in relation to their teaching. If there are some lapses, we set up workshops and training sessions to help them.
The UCD programme comprises different courses that are beneficial to my work, especially curriculum design, digital learning design, education development and research methods and design. They have really helped me broaden my knowledge base and will directly impact my role," Lina enthuses. "For example, initially I had very little knowledge in terms of digital learning design. I didn’t imagine that you could use digital technology in teaching all the subjects. Back, home I was only exposed to the use of technology specifically to teach students or teachers Microsoft Word or Excel and what a computer is all about. But my coming on this course has helped me gain the knowledge that you can actually use the computer to teach different subjects at all levels of education. I had an opportunity to visit one of the schools that is using digital learning – it was quite exciting and eye-opening!
Many schools in Zambia have procured computers and many more are in the process of doing so. I now feel confident enough that I can contribute positively into how to make use of this technology. What I’ve learnt will help me in fusing this aspect into the curriculum and the way of teaching. Also, the course has given me the insight that the scope of the curriculum around the world is not really so different, it’s the way it is taught in schools that differs. I really appreciate this because I had very little knowledge about what the curriculum for other countries was like.
Another thing I’ll be doing differently will come from the research skills I’ve learnt here. I now have a wider knowledge on how to deal with research problems. Being in teacher education, I have a vision of sharing this information with the teachers on how to carry out research and report their findings. Improving on research methodologies and design is something I’ll definitely take with me.
I’ve also learnt that teachers in Ireland really work with time and make use of it really well. Back home there is a bit of a problem around how teachers manage their time and it affects the quality of their work. So I hope to share this aspect with the teachers with the desire to improve the quality of the education that’s offered to all our students.
My coming here and getting this higher training means I can go back and be a role model to the other womenfolk, especially the youth. I come from a rural area where most women do not value education, most girl children do not value education, because they do not have somebody they can refer to and say ‘okay they did it, we can do it too’. So one of the areas I’ll go back with is making sure women and girls understand and learn that they can go higher than they might think.
The partnership between Zambia and Ireland has really helped our country develop in terms of education – and I can see this development not just in education but also in other sectors. For education to develop, it has to link with other key sectors in the country like agriculture and health.
I just want to commend Irish Aid. Selecting me to come and do this course and the assistance I’ve received has been overwhelming. I feel that with the knowledge I’ve gained from here I can contribute positively in providing quality education and improving the education system in Zambia.