By Eunice Sotelo, Social Media Coordinator
Education isn’t just about students acquiring knowledge; it’s about lifelong learners making real-world connections to what they’ve learned in the classroom. It follows that teachers who are properly trained for the job and feel supported in their role would have the confidence and capacity to lead and mentor. Compassionate Eye Foundation’s Teacher Empowerment and Training Program in the Koinadugu District of Sierra Leone, in partnership with CAUSE Kids aims to do exactly that.
CAUSE Canada, an international and development organization founded in Montreal, had been implementing projects in Sierra Leone since 1988. It started CAUSE Kids in 2006 to fund formal education in Koinadugu, as well as promote better health care for students. CAUSE Kids’ layered approach to education meant dealing with the basics first; equip children with daily meals, uniforms and school supplies and we enable them to learn. Four years ago, CAUSE Kids partnered with CEF for the Peer Literacy Program, which trained grades 10 and 11 students to become peer literacy tutors to primary students in after-school reading and phonetics sessions. The chosen tutors received financial support along with weekly computer training and library services at CAUSE Kids Integrated Learning Centre.
Teacher training program
CEF’s teacher training program with CAUSE Kids extends the goal of helping to revitalize the public education system in Sierra Leone. This year, the plan is to improve the skills of rural primary teachers in 17 target schools comprising 5,100 students and 145 teachers. At a two-day conference in November 2014, participating teachers will learn best practices from education professors in Science, Math, Phonics, Information Technology and child-centered teaching techniques (CCTT). The emphasis is on delivering information accurately and addressing the learning needs of the students.
Many teachers will also benefit from weekly professional mentoring by trained educators over the course of a year. Of the 145 participants, 25 will receive bursaries toward one year of their Teachers Education Certificate at the Makeni Polytechnic Institute. Teachers will study on weekends in Kabala and between scholastic terms. As of July 15, 2014, CEF is proud to report 18 female teachers and seven male teachers were enrolled in the teacher certification program. As more female teachers become involved in their professional growth, young girls can continue to look up to professional female role models who see the value in education. The hope is that these students will gradually see better teacher delivery and support in their classrooms.
Empowering teachers in remote areas
As CAUSE Kids has pointed out in its program proposal, there is no “shortage of capable, self-motivated individuals wanting to teach” in Sierra Leone. CEF’s role is to help empower elementary school teachers in remote areas like Koinadugu by giving them the opportunity to thrive in their chosen career through training and mentorship. With guidance and support they can grow as professionals and become a positive influence in their communities.