Repository logo

School-based professional development in a developing context: lessons learnt from a case study in Zambia

Change log


Haßler, B 
Cross, A 
Chileshe, E 
Machiko, B 


This paper reports on the development and outcomes of the second phase of OER4Schools, a schoolbased professional development programme supporting interactive forms of subject teaching in conjunction with Open Educational Resources (OER) and technology in Zambian primary schools. We worked with partners to identify the needs of school-based continuing professional development (CPD) adapted to the local context; the programme was based on participatory, collaborative and inquiry-based pedagogies for both classroom learning and teacher development. We worked over a 1-year period with four experienced teachers in two basic (primary) schools serving disadvantaged communities. Data were collected from observations, interviews, surveys, lesson planning / review meetings and team workshops. All participants integrated OER and technology into mathematics and science lessons and developed more interactive practices, including collaborative learning. Professional dialogue, quality conversations, reflective practice, cultural sensitivity, peer learning and co-operation were pivotal mechanisms through which teachers shifted their focus from teaching (and teacher exposition) to student learning. Seeing students as capable individuals, teachers raised their expectations, and developed insight into interactive practices such as group work, providing meaningful opportunities for student collaboration and active learning by all.



school-based professional development, digital technology, sub-Saharan Africa, interactive pedagogy, reflective practice, Zambia, Open Educational Resources

Journal Title

Professional Development in Education

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Informa UK Limited
We are most grateful to the teachers and the two schools who participated in our trials. Thanks also to Riikka Hofmann for useful comments on an earlier draft. Other partners supporting the work included iSchool Zambia (, the Ministry of Education (Zambia), Aptivate (UK-based NGO), the National In-Service Teachers’ College (now Chalimbana University, Zambia), and VVOB Zambia. The OER4Schools programme was based in the University of Cambridge Centre for Commonwealth Education and was supported by the Commonwealth Education Trust,