Giving Back to Africa’s assets-based servant leadership program focuses on the teachers and students of 5th through 9th grade. Over the last three years, the Noyau, this cohort of teachers, have studied project-based learning, safe-classroom techniques, how to turn “right/wrong” questions into open-ended questions that foster curiosity and creativity, and how to work with their students in developing critical thinking and reflection skills.
Most amazing, however, is that the 1st – 4th grade teachers and students have been observing the dramatic change in their colleagues’ teaching styles and the degree to which they have begun to enjoy their work. They have watched the 5th – 9th graders present their annual Fete de Presentation and complete their various community service actions in the community.
This year, the Noyau decided they wanted to share all that they are learning with the other teachers at the school. This kind of professional collegiality is rare. All the teachers at Centre Salisa came together last Saturday to listen to the Noyau share their learning and to listen to teachers not directly involved in the program who had many questions.
The non-Noyau teachers discussed the current education system they see in Congolese schools. In general, they said “students are learning without motivation because of many factors, but [especially because] of the lack of care and attention from teachers, the large number of students in each classroom, and the fact that teachers are not highly motivated." They said this stood in stark contrast to what they were observing in the Noyau teachers and their students.
The Noyau teachers, they observed, “are applying new techniques to help students in the learning process…[the content] is rich [and] people can apply [this knowledge] at home.”
Mr. Pombo, the 6th grade teacher, described his experience this way: “What is capital is the fact [that] students [are] put at [the] center observing, listening and expressing freely. We are using [techniques] to stimulate students participation in the learning process and by some small experiences, they [have] discovered things they didn’t know first, even we, teachers didn’t know at first.”
The Noyau and non-Noyau ended their meeting by agreeing that: the Noyau would take some time to explain nutrition concepts to the other teachers who will also be encouraged to observe the Noyau in their classrooms.
In this way, Giving Back to Africa is impacting the entire school; teachers and students are learning to think and act differently as a result.
Story, direct quotes, and pictures taken from Internal Report, Dr. Jerry Kindomba, Feb 2, 2014