Students’ perceptions of the open and distance learning mode for initial primary teacher training in Malawi: A case of Lilongwe Teachers’ College
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The purpose of this study was to assess students’ perceptions of open and distance learning (ODL) as a mode of training primary school teachers at Lilongwe Teachers’ College in Malawi. The ODL program had two components: an on-campus component for face-to-face learning and an off-campus component for distance learning. Both components were assessed in this study. Data were collected using both questionnaires and focus-group interviews. The findings suggest that students perceived ODL as a useful mode for training primary school teachers. Generally, the ODL program was characterized by a number of challenges, such as delays in the payment of student allowances, delays in the distribution of study material, inadequate time for face-to-face learning, inadequate professional support in the field, and high teaching loads owing to a shortage of staffing in schools. Students also complained that food and accommodation were poor in the on-campus component. The study’s findings have practical implications for the successful implementation of ODL. In particular, the findings may address student concerns, which could lead to improved student experiences and improved ODL outcomes for teacher training, as they highlight difficulties that debilitate ODL. Moreover, the study’s findings reveal differences in students’ perceptions of the on-campus and off-campus components of distance learning, each of which poses unique challenges that, if left unaddressed, would compromise the outcomes of the ODL program.