Guest Blog: My Experience of Teacher Training in Sierra Leone
Elin Egger is a teacher from the UK, based at Framlingham College in Suffolk. Today, to mark World Teacher’s Day, we hear from Elin on her experiences as part of the Street Child International Teacher Training Programme.
When I saw the programme offered by Street Child I knew it was something that I wanted to be involved with. Sustainability is a strength of the programme through an excellent team set up in Sierra Leone. The aim of the programme is to train and empower the teachers so that they are able to provide high quality education long after we have left.
During the trip we worked in pairs or threes, assigned to a teacher specialist. Each specialist is responsible for raising the quality of teaching in about 4 rural primary schools. In our designated schools, we delivered a summer school programme, co-teaching with the teaching specialist and the class teachers. In the morning we would deliver 3 hours of lessons to the children, focusing on numeracy and literacy. In the afternoons we would plan with our teaching specialist for the next day, sharing new ideas and techniques. Spending time in the rural parts of the country and working closely with the in-country Street Child team and the local villagers allowed us to have a really authentic experience.
The schools were devastatingly basic and not really fit for purpose. The schools where we worked were primary schools and had 3 classrooms, often covering 6 years of schooling, meaning students had to share classrooms and the teachers had to try to teach 2 different years at once. There were no windows or doors in the school, just empty spaces to let in the light. The roof was made of metal so when it rained heavily the noise was deafening, which interrupted class. There were no toilet facilities at the school either. However, there was plenty of space for the children to run around and it was wonderful to see them taking advantage of this whenever they could.
I hope we have had a lasting impact. The teaching specialists from Street Child will share the techniques and ideas we shared with them, providing many teachers with some training they have so far not been able to access. This will enable them to provide higher quality education for hundreds of children each year.
The need for Street Child’s support in this area of Sierra Leone was blindingly obvious. Without the support of Street Child, many villages would have no schools and the children would have very little hope of receiving any education or being able to build a better future for themselves.
I found this a really rewarding experience. As a teacher, you gain as much as you give. It is an opportunity to spend 2 weeks with a diverse group of teachers discussing pedagogy and thinking about your own teaching practice. In addition, you get to do all of this in some of the most amazing settings, travelling to areas I would not have gone to otherwise. It really is an inspiring and motivating trip.
By Elin Egger - International Teacher Training Programme Volunteer.