Joseph Tsikira, a principal lecturer in the Early Childhood Development (ECE) Department at Masvingo Teachers’ College dreamt of making personal contributions to teacher education development. Tsikira is one of the teacher trainers taking part in UNESCO’s Capacity-Building Programme for Education for Sustainable Development (CAP-ESD). The CAP-ESD programme, also called ‘Sustainability Starts with the Teachers’ enhances the participating teacher-educators understanding of sustainability and provides guidance as to how they may incorporate sustainability principles in their teacher educator role.
Key to the programme is the development of participant-led Change Projects. Change projects are institutional change initiatives to support the integration of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into teacher education.
Through being involved in the CAP-ESD programme, Tsikira has been able to realise his dream. He has brought together a number of colleagues who share his vision and has come up with a project to produce learning aids and instructional materials from the rubbish dump. Tsikira said:
“On the institutional front, our project is seen as a long overdue, it resuscitates the idea of Audio-Visual Aids that has since gone extinct in teacher education. The Ministry of Higher Education in Zimbabwe is pushing for institutional community engagement programmes and our project is in line with such a call”
The project primarily focuses on how student teachers can be oriented to utilize ‘waste’ at their disposal in producing teaching and learning materials that are both economic and home grown. During this process students acquire an appreciation of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) principles.
Practical play is vital for ECE and this prompted the Masvingo Teachers’ College Community of Practice to settle on the production of toys and instructional media among several other projects they initially considered for ESD Change Projects.
A market for these innovative learning resources has already been established by the Colleges’ administration department, which has set aside part of the budget to buy capital resources necessary for the project.
Students are trained to spearhead the institutionalization of instructional materials (e.g. toys) in their practicing schools and communities. When the students complete their Teaching Practice, what will remain is the legacy that the communities will perpetuate.
The waste management project aims to see teachers and students from Masvingo Teachers’ College going out into their various schools and communities to set up waste collection points and conduct workshops on toy production and instructional materials. In the long run these will be community run programmes and the College’s role will simply be the provision of technical support and monitoring. Tsikira added:
“We dream to have this Change Project become a landmark feature of the college calendar and culture. We intend to hold termly mini exhibitions of the products that our students would have produced and we hope to make this a perpetual culture. Beyond college boarders, we wish to engage Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Better Schools Programme Zimbabwe so that the same exhibitions maybe done in the schools where our students will be doing Teaching Practice”