The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 recognised access to free education as the fundamental right of all children.
70 years on, the shortage of qualified and dedicated teachers remains a challenge, robbing young people of their chance for a better tomorrow. There is a lack of pedagogues in areas where they can be of most help: in environments marked by marginalisation and exclusion. Appreciating the efforts of teachers whose work is changing the world, Polish Aid implements projects to help them. This is also where one needs to relieve them.
UNESCO’s calculations are worrying. In order to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals in universal primary and secondary education, the world needs to employ as many as 69 million teachers! Their role in spreading education, which is indispensable in the process of equalising opportunities, cannot be overestimated. Therefore, in supporting education in developing countries, Polish Aid does not forget about the teaching staff. The improvement of their skills, social status and working conditions has a direct impact on the quality of students' education, and thus also their future.
Teacher, study independently
Raising the competences of tutors is an important way of improving education systems in developing countries. Poland provides comprehensive support for the development of education in, amongst other places, Georgia, where since 2008 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has funded 170 pre-school centres, attended by about 2,000 preschoolers. In order to ensure their proper development, Polish Aid offers schooling to the educators responsible for the children's’ future, as well as the systemic care of officials responsible for them. Thanks to the involvement of Stowarzyszenie Edukator in 2016 and 2017, more than 30 Georgian teachers received training regarding working with diverse group of children, cooperation with parents, developmental psychology, and the diagnosis of developmental problems. As a result, 160 educators from local government institutions took part in two-day courses devoted to work with pre-schoolers. Over the last two years, 33 representatives of local authorities participated in courses on pre-school education management. In 2016, a fourteen-person strong delegation consisting of representatives from local government and non-governmental organisations as well as heads of schools and support centres took part in a study visit to Poland, where they learned about the country's experience in running pre-school branches in schools. Eleven training workshops for local government officials were conducted by the Polish Embassy - with 161 people taking part. The Embassy also organised workshops for 126 people responsible for implementing sanitary, nutrition and teaching standards.
The project was implemented by the Hear Africa Foundation in Mampong in cooperation with the Eden Montessori School in response to the growing demand for teaching staff in Ghana. Seeking to raise the level of local teaching and promoting the idea of lifelong development, the programme was targeted at both the pupils and their educators. It included classes, consultations, trainings and workshops for teachers as well as educational and development activities for students. The pedagogues, supported by Polish volunteers, developed knowledge of modern and alternative methods of working with children and determined the directions of self-education, whilst their pupils took part in workshops developing their social competences and knowledge of English. They were also encouraged to discover and cultivate personal talents and interests.
The workshops for educators were also part of a major project carried out by Wayair Foundation in the Ulyankulu refugees camp in the Tabora region of Tanzania. The project comprises the construction of a centre of early school education, where its teachers learnt innovative methodical forms, including theatrical techniques, facilitating creative teaching of the English language. Thanks to the competences acquired by the educators, 50 children aged from 6 to 11 participated in their language courses creatively conducted by them. In a nod to equal opportunities and non-discrimination regulations, the open recruitment will cover current and future protégés of the facility, both native Tanzans and refugees from Burundi.
Apart from much-need modernisation and stocking of libraries, the training programme for educators was an important way of raising the level of secondary and vocational education in the regions of Dodoma and Shinyanga in Tanzania (we already wrote about this project here: https://www.polskapomoc.gov.pl/Polish,School,of,Aid-Giving,2800.html). The project, implemented in two high schools, Don Bosco in Dodoma and in Didia, included raising the qualifications of the teaching staff in terms of career counselling, enabling the preparation of young people for a more conscious start into adult life. 67 adults participated in the courses. Thanks to this, their students benefit from individual professional consultations, raise their professional qualifications and strengthen their future position in the labour market.
To the rescue: a volunteer!
Polish Aids educational projects, and especially the support provided by Polish volunteers, play a special role, especially where pedagogical teams are in short supply. One such place is the Don Bosco Secondary School in the Tanzanian Dodoma, where there are over 160 students for every technical class teacher. The Salesian Volunteering Mission - Youth of the World, who developed a technical education programme in Don Bosco that employs modern teaching methods, came to the aid of the institution. Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a volunteering scheme on the ground not only teaches traditional technical drawing, but also helps teachers implement innovative methods within the current programme, e.g. by giving classes in computer-aided design (CAD).
Other facilities assisted by Polish volunteers include the Salesian of Don Bosco Children and Life Mission (CALM) and the St. John Bosco School in Kampala, Uganda (see more: LINK). They bring together children and young people who are in difficult life situations. Often deprived of family or brought up dysfunctional families, they require special care and attention, and often have basic needs, such as food and shelter. The directors of the centre and school stress the important role of volunteers in the rehabilitation process of their pupils: they provide psychological support to children, care for their intellectual and emotional development, enable them to develop a sense of security and belonging, help them adapt to the social structure. The attention they give them provides them hope that they can find their way in life despite a difficult start to life.
This change is necessary due to current trends in technical industries, where the design process from drafting boards has been transferred to computer screens. The volunteering scheme will also relieve teachers, including by supervising practitioners in the construction department and conducting individual consultations with students. Importantly, volunteers are present at the school permanently, so that the young, standing before the most important life decisions, can count on their support. Currently, due to the big discrepancy between the number of teachers and pupils and the fact that Don Bosco students are largely from single-parent families, low-income families, often with dysfunctions, they cannot receive such assistance from adults. By introducing modern education methods into the curriculum and increasing the emphasis on computer-assisted design (CAD) classes, the school will enable its pupils to gain practical skills and future-oriented skills that develop their talents.
The guiding principle inspiring the signatories of the Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 was a world of equal opportunities. We wish all teachers, on this special day dedicated to them, as much support as they need to realise their passion and change the reality of their pupils and future generations.