Volunteers who have served in Zambia consider it to be the “quintessential Peace Corps experience.” This is due to the rural nature of their site placements, the warmth of the local people, and the urgent need for their technical skills. In addition to technical skills, Volunteer attitudes can have a great impact on their experience. The most successful Volunteers in Zambia display patience, flexibility, and have a passion for inspiring others.
The Rural Education Development (RED) project in Zambia started in 2004. In 2018 the RED project expanded to offer a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate. RED Volunteers work in the classroom at basic and community schools as co-teachers and focus on improving access and quality of basic education through continuing teacher professional development.
The RED project’s overarching goal is for students to gain the English communication 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 schools in grades 5-9, where they can best support pupils and teachers in this critical transition from local language to English as the medium of instruction.
As a RED Volunteer, you will participate in Peace Corps’ Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) training program, which allows you to earn a TEFL Certificate upon successful completion of program requirements, 3 months of pre-service training, and 24 months of service. This program provides 120 hours of standardized training and practice teaching, along with two years of supervised teaching experience framed through quarterly online learning events facilitated by post staff. Four online assignments are also due prior to 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 the Center for Applied Linguistics 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) building counterpart teacher capacity by facilitating teaching Communities of Practice and in some cases co-teaching classes; (2) improving student achievement in English; and (3) encouraging community engagement in school improvement and student learning.
Volunteers build teacher capacity with opportunities for school-based continuing professional development to improve English instructional practice and in using gender equitable teaching practices. Volunteers improve student achievement in English by using interactive, learner-centered methods and organizing extra-curricular activities, such as after school clubs. Finally, Volunteers support community members in increasing their participation in school activities and student learning by teaching adult literacy and raising awareness on the importance of education.
In addition to helping students achieve in English, Volunteers are expected to engage in activities that address HIV/AIDS prevention and gender inequity. Volunteers may also teach a number of other relevant topics, such as health, nutrition, and malaria prevention.
Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Housing, Living allowance, Non-competitive eligibility (federal jobs), Stipend, Student loan forbearance, Training
Subject to criminal background check