articles, opinions, and research about teaching and learning
Interview with Eunice Frances Kutiote
Question: Tell us a little about yourself.
Answer: I am about to become principal at Yambio Girls' School. I was trained as a teacher in three three month phases, and started teaching in 1995. Things are difficult for Education here, but we grow accustomed to all the difficulties we are facing in Education. I see my new task as helping other teachers to teach well: supporting them by showing them how to teach and also how to make lesson plans for teaching. I go into classes and watch teachers teaching, and encourage them to teach better.
Q: How is the school funded?
A: In the school there is no salary to pay teachers. This means that teachers are often absent. Parents pay some fees but if the amount remitted is not big, then salaries are not forthcoming. We did have a school garden but cattle came into the town and ate the maize in our garden. For the coming year we will have to plant a new school garden for teachers to eat from. Parents are building five new classrooms and digging pits for latrines. One soldier lives in the school compound and he dug a pit latrine where the maize garden is, so we will have to start all over again with our garden.
Q: What do teachers do if they don't have books?
A: For many grades teachers and students don't have books. If teachers don't have books, we can try to improvise and to teach the students. Teachers spend the lesson time reading and discussing with students, using found objects like plants and small animals and drawing diagrams. When textbooks are available we have a textbook lending scheme. We've also distributed books, provided by UNICEF, for home reading.
Q: What can you tell us about the school lives of students?
A: Students write on slates. We have given out exercise books but there haven't been enough. I distributed them to students but told them that they have to use them carefully. In Primary 1 and 2 students are learning English, but all work is translated into Arabic so that students can understand. From Primary 3 onwards students learn in English. At home students speak Zande, Arabic and English.
Q: Do you have any advice for teachers?
A: Whenever we are working in school we have to emphasise co-operation. When we work together we can help each other to work well, especially those teachers with difficult living situations. UNICEF has helped to renovate our school and this encourages girls to come, if the school is well arranged. This is an all girls school and this encourages girls to be here. Actually parents are really keen to see girls in boarding school because there aren't really good environments for studying at home. Parents feel that if girls are in boarding school this may help to stop early marriage and pregnancies. In this area some girls don't come to school because they don't have clothes to wear. UNICEF has provided uniforms to help overcome this.
Interview with Isaac Aboroyo
Isaac Aboroyo teaches Maths, Science, English, Mother Tongue and Christian Religious Education. He is also headmaster at his school, RCC Parents' Primary School. Isaac has taught for 10 years. He has completed secondary school and had completed three three month inservice courses.
Q: What are the main understandings you've gained from the inservice work that you've completed?
A: I think that I have moved from teaching theoretically as I learned that people understand better when they see and can get practical things from the environment. I find that students actually learn better.
Q: What is your favourite subject?
A: I like teaching maths the best. It's a practical subject and when you get the right answer, you're happy. I can make it practical by seeing its uses in everyday life: measuring time, knowing the numbers of things that we have, what to give out and what to sell. I organise practical measurement activities such as measuring the classroom or the school compound or home gardens. I think that children find decimals difficult to understand, and place value in general. We sometimes use the abacus to teach this.
Q: What makes a good teacher in your opinion?
A: A good teacher is one who teaches the subject well and regularly, keeps good time in a lesson and does what he or she says will be done. I started to teach in a difficult time but I have this feeling in me that I don't want children to be left behind and not to learn. This feeling of helping students makes me very happy. Teaching is interesting, and I find that students are your reward. Teaching is a good profession and it's good to do it well.
I've also found that learning how to teach, and learning more about child development in an inservice course, has helped me to be a better father and husband. However I still find managing Kindergarten aged children difficult.
Q: What makes your job difficult?
A: Dealing with older children who are enrolled in the early grades has some problems. I try to treat them as older children by getting them to be a good example to the younger children. I give them responsibilities as class monitors, and getting them to help younger children to learn to read. In the future I may think of getting them to write stories in Zande (the local language) for younger children and to help with science experiments for younger children. Sometimes they get frustrated with being in class with younger children.
In my school I have a student who used to be a child soldier. He saw many people being killed. When the Convention on the Rights of Child was signed in south Sudan, all children taken away for the army were released and he came back to school. Like many others he wants to become a farmer. He has experienced hunger for such a long time and wants to be able to produce enough food for his family and his country.
As they continue through the grades, girls leave school. Some of them become pregnant. When children are younger, say 7 - 8 years old, parents care for them a lot, but as they get older, they have to care for themselves because parents have many other responsibilities. So proper care for girls, and for boys, is a problem.
Also, students find learning English difficult. We don't have radios at home or at school so we don't know what's happening in the world.
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Last revised January 1, 2001
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