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Once Again at Padri Vjeko Centre
Monday, 16 July 2018 Written by Valerie Kae Ken

Every time I leave Canada for Rwanda to work at Padri Vjeko Centre, I ask myself, “what shall I do this time?” And every time I arrive to find a multitude of tasks waiting for me. This time was no exception. Let me see if I can list a few of them...

First of all there is the Tailoring section of the school. We now have one hundred and ninety-seven tailoring students!!!! This year’s intake for first year was one hundred and nine new students!!! We have sixty-six students in second year and twenty-two students in third year. Let me tell you that creating the time-table for all classes for all levels for two sections for two curricula was an interesting challenge!

To complicate matters we are required to teach from two different curricula as determined by the Government. One curriculum, which is actually well written, well organized and contains practical work as well as theory is unfortunately being phased out. I have previously developed teaching modules for this program. Now, this new curriculum for tailoring requires a great deal of interpretation, reorganizing and thorough editing. I am presently rewriting twelve new modules that they can be taught in a clear, methodical fashion with important missing areas added. We also have two separate tailoring programs – one for students who have nine years of education and one for those who were unable to complete their nine years!

To help upgrade the teachers’ skills, I teach a tailoring class when I can. Our teachers are not all formally trained and while I am here I find that teaching classes with the teacher assisting is one way to share knowledge and skill, as well as introducing new teaching methods to the instructors.

Ponovno u Centru Otac Vjeko

Ponovno u Centru Otac Vjeko

As if this is not enough, we have three levels of Kindergarten classes and a Primary 1 class.

When I first arrived, I delivered a three-day teacher training workshop in which we discussed student centered, active and creative teaching and classroom organization. Together we developed their scheme of work plans, which is an overall view of their teaching programs. Every afternoon, I try to find time to work with each teacher - encouraging them to use activities and play to teach the children. All too often here, the only method of teaching is to stand at the front of the class and write on the board, expecting students to memorize and recite. At Padri Vjeko School we try to live the words of Confucius: “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember: I do and I understand.” The kindergarten teachers are beginning to catch on and seem to really enjoy this way of teaching, so we are now compiling wonderful box-files of fun activities for the children to learn from.

I am also working on production patterns for the school – for the Padri Vjeko students and staff uniforms, and for bags, aprons, hot-pads and pillow covers that our tailoring students are cutting and sewing in their Industrial Sewing classes. And now that we have kindergarten students, we needed to create production uniforms for them, complete with aprons to wear when they are doing messy work like coloring and painting!

Ponovno u Centru Otac Vjeko

Most importantly, I’ve been working with all the teachers at Padri Vjeko Centre to develop their teaching plans, known as “session plans” here in Rwanda. In the years that I have been coming to Africa, I realized that preparation and organization are two things that are not instinctive to most people, and this includes our teaching staff. I found that by simplifying the paperwork to a format that is understandable and includes the essential information, I was able to present a workshop with the teachers so that they can prepare their classes in advance. Next year I hope they will realize how much easier it will be for them to repeat the teaching of their programs!

Ponovno u Centru Otac Vjeko

We are very proud of the work that is being done here at Padri Vjeko Centre. We believe it is essential that these young people receive the best education and skill that we can give to them. This is their future and for many of them, it is the only chance they will have. When they leave us, many will go out into the workforce, hoping to find employment, so we work hard to get the equipment and supplies that they need to learn.

Ponovno u Centru Otac Vjeko

And that is why we work with the teachers to improve their teaching so that their lesson plans can be delivered in the best way possible under the circumstances. And it is because of the support of our wonderful, generous donors that Padri Vjeko Centre has done so well. The school has certainly proven to be the best opportunity these youth from rural Rwanda have to become the future workforce of this tiny country in the heart of Africa.

Father Vjeko Center

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