Barbara Aukunda is an Educate! mentor. She is also advising in Educate’s! first revenue-generating project – a five week training course created and led by Angelica Towne, Educate!’s Program director.
Every morning for the past three weeks sixteen individuals have taken a taxi from Kampala to Nsambya. a ten minute drive when traffic is good. They arrive at the Leadership Institute to attend a five week Teacher Training— Educate!’s first income generating project! It is through the Teacher Training Course that Educate! will identify viable candidates for its second team of mentors. Our mentors teach the Educate! scholars our leadership and social entrepreneurship curriculum and guide our scholars through the creation of their social initiatives. Educate! will be leading two Teacher Trainings this fall. Over the five weeks, trainees learn how to teach using the Educate! model, a model that is new to Uganda.
Educate! thinks of teaching as more then disseminating information. Teaching is about leading students into discovering concepts on their own. It is about experience and learning through practice. And most importantly, it is about empowering students to be proactive in becoming responsible citizens. Throughout the five weeks, Angelica will cover a range of lessons. By the time the course is finished we will have discussed mentorship, promoting interaction among students and teachers, leadership skills, social entrepreneurship education, public speaking, and perhaps most importantly, strategies on how to empower young people.
This is drastically different than the Education System in Uganda, which is traditionally very teacher-centered. In a standard setting, a teacher walks into class, introduces the topic of the day, and proceeds to dictate notes to the students. There is little student participation. Eventually, students graduate from University with lots of theory, and little practical approaches to solving problems in society. Educate!’s approach is vastly different - it blends practical learning with community responsibility. In this way the emphasis continues to be on the students. We learn that good teachers listen to their students and seek to understand them. They engage their students with activities that allow the students to come into their own understanding of the material. Through practice, and with Angelica as our guide, we will learn how to incorporate this into our teaching methods.
Even the way the course is taught exemplifies this practical strategy. Trainees are subjected to a variety of interactive teaching methodologies rather than just hearing about concepts and memorizing terms. For example, it has been three weeks since the training began, and with daily practice on presentation methods, a number of the trainees have acquired confidence in expressing themselves and communicating effectively. During one of the group’s presentations, I watched as the trainees presented about various societal problems afflicting Uganda. Lucy, a teacher at a refugee camp, described the conditions in which her students live. She talked about their lack of food and clothing. She then called upon the trainees to join hands and support her efforts to provide basic needs to these disadvantaged pupils. In this way, the teacher training course gave Lucy a forum to practice public speaking and advocacy and also educated everyone about the refugee camp. It was amazing to hear what other trainees in the course chose to speak about. We listened to problems and solutions on everything from addressing unemployment by practicing fish farming to improving transportation to minimize road accidents and civilian injuries.
Our trainees might not mentor through Educate!, but as they work within the Ugandan educational system, they will apply the teaching strategies learned here. In this way, Educate! is impacting the teaching methods in Uganda and helping teachers view their roles in a different light. This allows us to work within the system. To this end, teaching with the Educate! model will not only be accessed by the Educate! scholars, but by those students our trainees go on to teach throughout their careers. It is yet another channel Educate! uses to inspire Ugandan youth to reach their full potential and make a positive impact on society.
Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Through this course, the trainees are learning how to educate and empower the next generation of socially responsible leaders.