The teachers that we train shape the lives of thousands of primary school children, but they do more than teach well. From their classrooms they inspire and lead, helping to nurture friendship between boys and girls of South Kivu’s different tribes.
Good teachers are worth their weight in gold. Something that people in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, unfortunately know all too well. They suffered years of murder and violence, often perpetrated by gangs vying to exploit the region’s vast underground wealth of rare metals. In the ensuing chaos, many of the region’s trained teachers fled and were never replaced.
Cut off from government support (and our consultations show that it will be some time before it arrives), the isolated villages of South Kivu’s Plateau have done what they can to get their children educated. Plateau teachers are often the most educated person that parents can find to do the job, often just someone who has finished school. Never trained, but doing what they can, these teachers are sadly failing to educate the children under their charge.
Working with our excellent Congolese partners (Eben-Ezer Ministry International or EMI) we are training teachers for the children of South Kivu. We’re doing this in two ways; in-service and pre-service (on the job or before the job).
In-service training. Is done during school holidays (so that we don’t disrupt classes). We equip existing village teachers with the skills and knowledge to be the teachers that their pupils need, the teachers we know that they can be. We’ve trained more than 1,900 teachers in this way.
Pre-service training. Is being delivered within South Kivu’s pedagogy (teaching) schools. Having largely focused on helping many hundreds of existing primary school teachers, we are now in a position to strengthen the training of a new generation of teachers for the Plateau.
Our teacher training ensures that all primary school teachers understand and can teach the national syllabus. This ensures that the Plateau children receive a well-rounded education and one which will be recognised should they go on to further study.
We place an emphasis on equipping the teachers with the best teaching methods – this shifts lessons away from, ‘no-questions-may-be-asked’, rote-learning to far more interactive and inspiring teaching. What we call a ‘child-centred’ method. The difference in quality of lessons (and the planning that goes on before them) is marked.
Schools are one of the few places on the Plateau where children from different communities meet. Historically these communities have been fractured and relations have been tense; a legacy of conflict, in which exploitative powers pitted these tribes against each other.
Our teachers are trained to develop children’s communication skills through play. They encourage girls and boys from different tribes to mix, and help show them that problems and differences can be resolved peacefully. By treating girls with respect and equality, teachers also provide an important role model for boys to follow. As much as home-life has a big influence on the character of their children, school-life has just as big an influence. This is why it’s so important to have good teachers in place.
more girls enrolled in schools where we conducted our most recent teacher training
fall in drop-outs at schools reached by our most recent teacher training
of teachers found to be planning lessons vs the 22% doing so before our training
Training a teacher is a long-term investment and not one that should be rushed. Our holiday-time training courses for existing teachers will be followed with further visits and lesson observations by our teacher trainers. This gives the teachers time to receive further training in areas that they or the trainer have identified as needing it . All feedback is done 1-2-1, not in front of other staff or children, we want to build confidence as this will only make them better teachers.
We also set up teacher support networks (TSNs) to give isolated rural teachers the opportunity to support one another and share best practice. It is especially useful to younger teachers, who are able to gain continuous support from their more experienced peers. Essentially, these networks (which run without our input) serve to provide access to ‘continuous professional development’, exactly what you want amongst the people who are helping to raise future generations.