Secondary English Education Teacher

Project Description

Volunteers who have served in Zambia consider it to be the “quintessential Peace Corps experience” due to the rural nature of their site placements and the enthusiasm typically shown to Volunteers for collaboration to address rural students’ learning needs. From their brightly colored chitenge fabric to the spectacular Victoria Falls, Zambia embraces their country’s philosophy of “One Zambia, One Nation.”

The Rural Education Development (RED) project’s overarching goal is to build students’ English language skills necessary to access better academic and professional opportunities. With English as the official language of Zambia, English literacy plays a key role in building a future for young people; yet only 2% of the population speaks English as a first language. Some Zambians, especially in rural areas, never acquire any proficiency in English. The Ministry of Education’s current curriculum prioritizes literacy and learning in local languages in grades 1 through 4. Therefore, students often reach grade 5 with minimal English grammar or literacy skills. English then becomes the medium of instruction from grade 5 on, so English language skills are critical for student success.

The RED project places Volunteers as English teachers in rural upper primary classrooms for grades 5 to 7, where they work with counterparts to support pupils and other teachers in this critical transition from local language to English as the medium of instruction and in lower secondary classrooms (grades 8 and 9).

RED Volunteers participate in Peace Corps’ TEFL training program, which allows them to earn a TEFL Certificate upon successful completion of program requirements, including pre-departure requirements, pre-service training, and 24 months of service. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching, along with supervised teaching experience framed through quarterly online learning events facilitated by post staff. Four online assignments are also due prior to your arrival in Zambia, so staying close to internet connectivity is key during your last 90 days prior to departure.

The TEFL Certificate is validated by “SupportEd” in Washington, DC. The U.S. State Department and the English language learning sector worldwide have touted Peace Corps’ TEFL Certificate program as a highly marketable credential.

The primary goals of Volunteers in TEFL Certificate programs are typically: (1) co-facilitating the capacity building of teachers through teaching Communities of Practice and in some cases co-teaching classes; (2) working alongside counterparts to improve student achievement in English; and (3) co-facilitating community engagement in school improvement and student learning.

Peace Corps Zambia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Zambia and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Qualified applicants will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.

Please Note: A Bachelor’s degree is mandatory for all candidates as a requirement for your Zambian work permit.

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
-Master of Arts or Science degree in any discipline; degree related to education/youth a plus.
-Classroom teaching experience at the primary or secondary level in English, Teaching English as a Second or Foreign language (TESL/TEFL) or teaching a foreign language.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

While English is the official language of Zambia, most Volunteers find that community integration is enhanced with their ability to hold basic conversations in the local Zambian language used at their sites. Some community members may have intermediate or advanced levels of English. Therefore, Volunteers are most effective when conversing and working in the local language, and all Trainees are required to learn a local Zambian language.

Trainees are offered a comprehensive language immersion program during Pre-Service Training (PST). Trainees will have three months of language learning from native speakers in the predominant language spoken at the site in which they will be placed. They will be required to attain an intermediate level score and will receive a language survival kit. Once in their community, Volunteers are encouraged to engage the services of a language tutor (paid for by Peace Corps) to continue building their language skills.

Living Conditions

Serving as a Volunteer in Zambia requires commitment to working in rural areas that may be mentally and physically challenging. Volunteers typically live in villages in traditional houses made of local materials, such as mud bricks and a grass thatch or tinned roof, cement floors, without plumbing or electricity. Water will be collected from a nearby bore hole, well or stream, which is filtered through a Peace Corps-issued water filter. Volunteers typically live on a large housing compound, but have their own living structure, cooking area, private bathing area, and latrine. Volunteers may choose to share meals with their host neighbors and resource family members or cook on their own.

Schools where Volunteers teach are usually nearby, but others may need to bike long distances to work. Bicycles will be provided and you will receive riding and maintenance training to ensure their reliability and safety.

Transportation from your community to the provincial capital may take one or two days and will generally be by crowded and dusty forms of public transportation. After transiting at the Provincial Resource Center, it usually takes one day to reach the capital city Lusaka and transportation is normally more comfortable, with better roads and commercial vehicles such as buses.

In each province where Volunteers serve, Peace Corps Zambia operates a Provincial Resource Center, which is staffed year-round and is used for work collaboration and training. Having Peace Corps Staff and resources nearby allows for more comprehensive and timely support of Volunteers’ programming and administrative needs, along with their health and safety, which are Peace Corps’ top priorities.

Cell phone coverage for sending and receiving calls may not be completely reliable in all communities, but all Volunteers report having enough coverage for at least text messaging. Many Volunteers choose to bring a laptop, as internet is available at both Peace Corps’ Provincial Resource Centers and through cell phone providers, however upon arrival, all Volunteers are offered brick phones and tablets to support their personal and professional needs in their community. If you do choose to bring a laptop, you may want to consider an older model, or purchase insurance.

Zambians regard dress and appearance as demonstrating respect for one another. As a Volunteer, you are expected to dress appropriately, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. RED Volunteers spend much of their time in schools, so it is advisable to bring clothing that is comfortable, professional, and modest. Footwear appropriate for considerable standing, walking, and biking is also a necessity.

For women, dresses and skirts should fall below the knee and spaghetti straps are not appropriate unless covered with a sleeved shirt, coat, or jacket. Skintight sports shorts or leggings/yoga pants worn alone are also inappropriate, but may be worn under a skirt or dress, especially when riding bicycles. Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or doing work where Zambian counterparts are also wearing them.

Hair should be clean and combed, and beards should be neatly trimmed. Long hair for men, tattoos, and some piercings may not be culturally accepted and may impede community integration, especially throughout your first few months in the community. Facial piercings are considered inappropriate and should not be worn during Volunteer service. Large tattoos should be covered as much as possible.

Food availability and variety will depend on your community. The staple food in Zambia is nshima (shee-muh), which is made from maize meal and cooked into soft lumps that are eaten with cooked vegetables, fish, meat, beans, or chicken, typically by hand. Vegetarians should have little trouble maintaining a healthy diet, though vegetarianism is relatively uncommon. A few words of polite explanation usually suffice to be excused from eating meat in any situation.

Serving in Zambia

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Zambia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Zambia welcomes couples serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must qualify for, and be invited to one of the following projects:
- Maternal, Child Health and HIV/AIDS Educator
- Secondary Education English Teacher

The pre-service training sites for Health and Education Volunteers are in two different locations in Zambia. Cross-sector couples should note that they will not be living together during the three months of pre-service training. Couples also need to be aware that additional but compulsory trainings such as in-service training and mid-service training can be held at different times. However, they will then live together at their permanent site.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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