The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is developing a National Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Framework for teachers and supervisors in Zimbabwe. As a starting point, the Ministry organized a three-day consultative workshop in the first quarter of 2019 in March for stakeholders to map the way for the development of the CPD framework. The development of the Framework is a response to the need to develop a structured continuing professional development programme for teachers and supervisors to address identified skills gaps, capacity needs and develop tailor-made programmes to mitigate the identified gaps.
Broadly, the purpose of the Framework is to guide the design and implementation of continuing professional development programmes for the teachers and supervisors, with the aim of improving the quality of teaching, learning practices, and to raise student learning outcomes at all levels of Zimbabwe’s education system. The Framework will contribute towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 - (SDG4) – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
The new competency-based curriculum launched in January 2017, to some extent, placed new demands on the teacher. To deliver on the new curriculum, the teacher is expected to acquire a whole set of new competencies based on the principles set in the Teacher Professional Standards (TPS). According to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (2015:41), “The curriculum framework stresses learner-centred approaches. The focus on learning revolves around learners as they engage in the search and discovery of new knowledge. The teacher acts as a co-explorer and facilitating knowledge discovery to arrive at an objective understanding of content and demonstration of skills so acquired”. The same notion is amplified in the Ministry’s Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP) 2016 – 2020 which highlights a “strong focus on improving the standards of teaching and the opportunities for teachers to develop their professional knowledge and skills”.
In 2015, the Ministry developed a set of Teacher Professional Standards (TPS). The development of TPS stems from the Ministry’s conviction that teachers constitute the backbone of any education system, and their standards in terms of knowledge, skills, and values make an immense contribution to the delivery of good quality education. The crafting of TPS was a major milestone in the Ministry’s efforts to enhance the capacity of teachers and ‘restore the professional status of teachers’ which had been eroded during the period of economic downturn between 2000 and 2008 (Ministry of Education 2015). The stipulation of professional standards has, as one its main aims, the provision of benchmarks for self-assessment of teacher performance which lays the basis for teacher professional development programmes. Through TPS, teachers can assess their professional competencies against a set of stipulated standards and, based on their self-assessment, they can then come up with their own professional development plans to address skills gaps that would have been identified.
The development of the CPD Framework to guide the process of teacher professional development in line with the dictates of the TPS is an inclusive effort and involves educational stakeholders at the national, provincial, district, cluster and school levels. These include Chief Directors, Directors at Head Office and their deputies, Provincial Education Directors and their deputies, District Schools Inspectors, Schools Inspectors, the Public Service Commission, University and Teacher Education College lecturers, Head Teachers, school teachers and Teachers’ Unions, among other stakeholders.
The consultative workshop objectives included establishing stakeholder consensus on the need for a CPD Framework for the education sector; setting up a Working Group; developing a roadmap and a strategy for the development of a CPD framework.