Teaching Challenges in East Africa and How do we assist?

Tanzania Teacher in Action – Class 2 with 67 students

Imagine.

You are a teacher, on your way to school. Last night your roof leaked again, so you didn’t sleep well. You haven’t been paid this month, so food is scarce. Your stomach rumbles as you reach the school gates. There are 67 students in your class. Not a bad number, but there are only  10 textbooks. How will you organise the day’s lesson? You cross the playground; it’s quiet monotony of the last 6 years surround you with no signs of promotion or professional development. After school, you will spend the rest of the afternoon labouring on a farm. Not because you want to, but because you  have two children to support and elderly relatives who depend on you. You are not sure how you are going to get all the planning and marking done by the end of the day.

The school bell rings.  Beginning of a new school day.

WHY IS TEACHING IN AFRICA SO HARD?
Teachers in East Africa face enormous challenges every day, which inevitably results in low motivation and depleted morale. They are often poorly paid which means many will need to work a second job just to ‘make ends meet’. Most teachers usually have dependents and it is not uncommon for teachers to come to school hungry. In rural areas teachers will often face the additional challenges of inadequate housing and living conditions.

There are limited opportunities for teachers to progress within the career and there is little professional development to nurture and refine their skills. Teaching resources and supplies are desperately lacking; creating a daunting task for teachers as they struggle to develop effective lessons and activities. Many teachers will resort to utilizing ‘natural resources’ such as rocks or sticks to aide in lessons. How
can they provide a quality educational experience for their students when the
most basic school supplies are out of reach? As a teacher, workloads can be
immense and with no real support from management, teaching in Africa can be
arduous.

Despite the challenges, there are many teachers in East Africa who are incredibly dedicated. These teachers continue to educate because they believe that investing in the education of children is the only way to achieve a healthier future for their country. Their enthusiasm and perseverance is truly remarkable. So perhaps the long over-due question should be “what would they ask for?”

It is clear that most teachers would ask for better facilities and adequate
resources. Professional training and development would be key elements in
providing valuable support and knowledge to becoming effective educatorsIt
is clear that most teachers would ask for better facilities and adequate
resources. Professional training and development would be key elements in
providing valuable support and knowledge to becoming effective educators.

But , perhaps most of all, teachers would be asked to be valued.

WHAT CAN ASANTE AFRICA FOUNDATION DO TO HELP?

Quality education begins with quality teachers. Teachers are undoubtedly the most important factors in children receiving a quality educational experience.  They can be the difference between a school that deteriorates and a school that thrives.

Asante Africa recognises the importance of valuing teachers and ensuring that their needs are met. Teachers who feel a sense of worth, who are respected as professionals and who are supported in their efforts will most certainly become highly motivated educators– resulting in better schools and improved learning outcomes.

In 2011, one specific area where Asante Africa is creating change is through its teacher-training program. In this program, teachers are supported through a series of training workshops.  They will continue their professional development by learning new techniques and refining their styles. Teachers will become better equipped in classroom management, in effective implementation of lessons and sensitive to the unique needs of students.

Great teachers inspire and motivate. They enrich the lives of children and encourage them to reach for their potential.

We believe in doing the same for the teachers!!

Written by Emma Dredge, Volunteer researcher in UK who has taught primary school in both Kenya and Tanzania.

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www.asanteafrica.org
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