Project Education South Sudan brought a brand new project to South Sudan during its trip in March 2008. Trained professional educators from the United States joined the team to travel to several villages to conduct teacher-training workshops. Sudanese teachers traveled from villages near and far to attend these two-day workshops on how to become better educators. The workshops taught teaching techniques that can help Sudanese teachers to utilize their unique environments and everyday objects to make their classrooms interactive and challenging for their students.
American educators from varied backgrounds came together for months before the trip to create dynamic teaching materials for the Sudanese teachers. These teaching guides offered ideas on how structure classes and subject areas so that the information reaches all the students, in what are usually very large class sizes. Strategies for breaking into groups, peer review, and interactive class participation were stressed during the workshops to illustrate new ways to ensure that all children have access to learning and getting their questions answered.
Project Education South Sudan created elaborate and durable teaching kits, which were supplied to each of the major villages that attended the workshops. These large teaching kits were to be shared and checked out, as in a library, and offer detailed subject content area guidance to the teachers. The workshops were divided into primary and secondary teachers, but both focused on reading, writing, science and math teaching strategies. The Education Committee prepared extensively in advance, and sent three of its members to lead the workshops in Sudan.
The teacher training workshops were a great success, and Project Education South Sudan anticipates that this will become a “trainer of trainers” process in which the teachers who attended will then share their knowledge with more and more teachers. Future trips to the regions will evaluate the impact of these workshops and how the organization can continue to support teacher education in the future. It cannot be denied that in order for schools to be successful and change the lives of children, the teachers must also be qualified. Project Education South Sudan is excited to be able to support efforts to educate teachers.
Please read the reflections of Joyce Culwell, secretary of the Board and Journey of Hope 2008 team member, below about her experiences training primary educators:
“As I looked at the ‘classroom’ of teachers who teach elementary students in Sudan, I saw eyes and facial expression you would find on elementary students themselves. Eyes that were big and inquisitive, faces that were eager for knowledge, and body language that spoke of motivation, desire and a hunger for learning.
The teachers in Sudan know how to speak, read, and write English, yet they want to be better. They want to know more. They came from near and far — some of them came from so far away they needed a place to stay the night, as they had no cars.
We taught two afternoon workshops in temperatures that were so hot we Americans needed to drink water constantly; yet, the Sudanese didn’t complain or lose their focus. They kept asking us questions and referring to the teaching materials we brought.
There was no chalkboard in the first village where classes were held, so the teachers used the pens and paper we brought for them to write down everything that was said, every math problem, and all musical symbols for the songs we taught.
Music is a huge part of the Sudanese culture. They can’t seem to get through a day without singing, dancing and drumming. Their energy is an example of village communion, and a lifestyle of happiness. Though they have nothing compared to American standards, they have all that is required to learn.
The materials for learning were neatly packed in a 16" square blue box that contained 2 teacher’s workbooks, 13 storybooks, world maps, a unit teaching how to learn math from drumming, and plastic manipulative pieces showing proportions in geometrical drawings. There were also many sets of dice, several decks of playing cards, and three sets of flash cards — all for mathematic strategies.
Two blue teaching kits were given to each of three villages to use with their students and to share with other villages. We also left pencils and paper for the students. With these supplies, the students could actually write stories instead of just practicing letters and numbers by writing with sticks (or their fingers) in the dirt.
Even after they examined all the teaching materials and offered polite gratefulness, the most rewarding part of the workshop was the expressions on the teachers’ faces when they received Certificates of Completion. I believe now more than ever that the Sudanese are a bright, intellectual, eager and impassioned people about education.”