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|Our Teachers can also learn!|
Being a teacher in Africa is not an easy task. Classes are large, students come in with varying levels of education and often lack basic skills and arrive at different times in the school year. And, of course, poverty is an ongoing challenge for our students. However, here in Kivumu at Padre Vjeko Centre, we are fortunate to have some very dedicated people who put their heart and soul into their work.
Unfortunately, not one of our teachers have formal teacher training. Although they are quite skilled at what they do, they often lack the educational background to deliver the information effectively to our students. So we got the idea of presenting a series of ‘Train the Trainer/Professional Development’ workshops and in August of 2015 we held a ten-day workshop for all our teachers from both schools (VTC and TSS) at Padri Vjeko Centre. We also hosted three teachers from a tailoring school at a project in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. So it was a very full class indeed!
The main focus of the workshop was to work on enhancing a student-centered and more creative approach to our teaching. You see, our teachers grew up in an older education system, where they were made to sit in classrooms and copy work from the board all day long. The problem with this traditional way of teaching is that it centers on the teacher, with less emphasis on the actual recipients of the education system – our students. And it is our students after all, that are the sole reason we exist!
Facilitating the workshop was not without its own challenges. Language was a real issue. The visiting teachers from Congo spoke French, Kiswahili and their native tongue, Mashi. And not all of our Kivumu teachers understand French or English, speaking only Kinyrwanda. Initially we tried using an oral translator, attempting to give the information in English, French and Kinyarwanda, but it became far too time-consuming. So we decided to pair participants off… and so our problem was somewhat solved.
And the weather was hot, the days were long, and we had a lot of material to cover during the workshop. But as the days flew by, we actually had fun doing it. We took frequent breaks and using game playing to make the time pass more enjoyably. We did a lot of group work and we had prizes awarded for small competitions.
And at the end of the workshop all participants received a bright red Calgary Stampede T-shirt! All this demonstrated to the teachers that if one uses a little creativity and even some humour, classroom time does not have to be tedious and repetitive and can actually be fun to learn!