I have a staff member called Archelet, who is one of my Education Supervisors. Last October he asked if I would come and see his teacher’s training, the next time he did it, and I agreed. Sure enough, last week he called in my promise, and on Friday I went to a school, which we had built, to see more than 200 teachers learning and discussing together.
I come from a family of teachers – both my Mum and my sister are teachers – so I have always felt a certain level of respect for the commitment required from teachers. We support more than 100 schools, which totals almost 600 teachers – many of whom don’t know when their next paycheque is coming, as it depends on when the children can afford to pay their school fees. 90% of the schools in Haiti are private, and as the limited number of Government schools could never accomodate all the children in the Country, parents are forced to send their children to fee paying schools. Of the 100 schools we support, for example, 99 are privatley owned.
The subjects we are teaching the teachers this month will help them to improve the educational quality in their schools, in a country which still teaches by rote; we are teaching child/educational psychology, dealing with the stigmatism of children at school (for example if they have HIV or cholera) and alternative/interactive teaching methods. At the moment I have a French teacher, who started to teach us by rote – memorising and repeating verb tables, independantly of any context or variety. A couple of weeks ago we asked him to teach us differently, and having experienced the new, contextual, interactive style, I have recognised what an aid this is to learning. I feel that I am making progress, rather than just failing to adequatley memorise tables, for which I am unsure the context of when I should use them.
Often when I have visited training sessions, in other countries where I have worked, it is a room of tired people – indeed, sometimes they are often asleep at the back of the room by the afternoon! – who are just waiting for their free lunch. When I arrived at the school on Friday it was three classrooms full of animated discussions, laughter and concentrated learning. I was impressed, happy and very, very proud of my dedicated team.