Developing learner-centred education among secondary trainee teachers in Malawi: the dilemma of appropriation and application

Peter Mtika, Peter Gates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


This article is mainly concerned with the capability of trainee teachers to implement learner-centred practice at one of the teacher education institutions in Malawi. The notion of learner-centred education has assumed a positive policy position for teaching and learning in both primary and secondary sectors not only in Malawi, but also in the wider world. However, there is no clear evidence on the extent to which trainee teachers or indeed qualified teachers develop and utilise learner-centred education during their classroom pedagogical practices. The appropriation and application of a pedagogical theory involves adopting tools for thinking that are made available by various social agents, structures and systems within cultural learning settings. The findings in the study indicate that appropriation and application of learner-centred education is constrained by various factors. These findings resonate with findings from other countries and indicate that progressive pedagogical notions aligned with social constructivism promoted in teacher education institutions have not resulted in widespread change in classroom practice. Teacher educators and policy makers need to be aware of this and examine relevant ways and possibly adaptations that can be reasonably made to ensure that secondary teaching appropriately benefits from the strength of learner-centred pedagogy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-404
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Issue number4
Early online date30 Dec 2009
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • learner-centred education
  • teacher education
  • teaching practice
  • secondary school
  • trainee teacher
  • Malawi


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