Training Teachers At A Distance: Perceptions Ad Challenges Of Open And Distance Learning (Odl) In Teacher Education The Zimbabwean Experience

Wellington SAMKANGE,

Zimbabwe like most developing countries continues to experience shortages in skills. One such area that has experienced skills shortages is education. This has resulted in governments and education institutions coming up with innovative ways to improve the training of of teachers. Such innovative models include the Open & Distance Learning (ODL) model in the development of skills. In some instances, there has been a combination of the conventional model and the ODL model. The purpose of the study was to examine the different methods used in the training of teachers and the role of ODL in addressing skills shortages. The study used the qualitative methodology and the case study design. The respondents were purposively selected. Data was collected through lesson observations, document analysis and open-ended questionnaires that were administered to senior teachers, deputy school heads and school heads. These gave a total of twenty respondents from different schools. At the same time twenty trainee teachers in different programmes with the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) were observed teaching and were assessed. The study also examined views, attitudes and perceptions about the training of teachers. From the data it could be concluded that the model being used by teachers’ colleges (2-5-2) was more inclined to ODL than the ‘conventional’ model, thus demonstrating that indeed teachers can be trained through ODL. Whilst there were mixed feelings about the role of universities in the training of pre-service teachers, it could be concluded that universities had a role in the training of teachers regardless of the mode of delivery they used. The study noted that the lack of resources and lack of understanding between different stakeholders was negatively affecting the success of the ODL model of training teachers at the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU).

KEYWORDS: Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), Teacher Training, Distance Education, Africa