Geography Teachers Sharpen GIS Skills
At least 72 teachers drawn from various Community Day Secondary Schools across the country are undergoing a four weeks Geographic Information Systems (GIS) course at Mzuzu University (MZUNI) delivered through Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL).
The needs-based course is being offered by MZUNI’s Department for Geosciences and aims at imparting skills to the country’s secondary school geography teachers following Government’s inclusion of GIS in the geography syllabus recently.
Strengthening Higher Education Access in Malawi Activity (SHEAMA) with funding from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is supporting the GIS program through scholarships to some of the teachers.
MZUNI’s director for ODL Patricia Nothale said the program is designed to bridge the GIS knowledge and skills gap existing among Geography teachers in secondary schools.
“Many teachers have had problems in handling the topics related to GIS. Despite being a more practical theme, most GIS teaching is done theoretically. Geography teachers lack technical support and in-service training and proper teacher guidelines. They lack adequate knowledge and technical hand-on skills in GIS,” said Nothale
She said the 72 teachers were selected from among 117 candidates who had applied for this course after it had been advertised in the media.
She thanked SHEAMA for providing scholarships to 40 of the 72 teachers who were selected to pursue the course.
SHEAMA director of grants and scholarships, Dr. Sellina Mkweteza-Kanyerere commended MZUNI for being proactive to utilize ODL as a means for increasing access to higher education and for coming up with the program.
She said she was confident that the teachers will now be able to competently teach GIS and remote sensing topics.
During the training, participants will be introduced to the basics of GIS, cartography, digital map-making and spatial analysis tools in QGIS. Candidates will be awarded certificates of attendance at the end of the short course.
SHEAMA is a four-year USAID-funded activity being implemented by Arizona State University and seeks to increase the number of skilled and employable workforce by partnering with public universities to offer quality ODL programs at certificate, diploma and degree levels.