Volunteer teaching in Kenya on the coast of Africa
There are two opportunities for teaching in our coastal projects. Volunteers can either focus on one, or if you are volunteering for over a month then take a turn at both, for two very diferent experiences.
The first teaching placement is a small, bright and ‘attractive’ orphanage that has developed a community primary school for the younger residents and for children from the wider community.
It is a relatively small orphanage offering shelter to 42 children (2016), roughly 50% girls/boys. The older children go out to external schools, while the younger ones join with children from the community in a colourful learning environment for some 50-60 children, of which c.30 are in their early years. It is arranged in one large square, well kept and surrounded by beautiful flowers. It has a small, intimate feel.
The school provides the opportunity for volunteers to act in a teacher support, or teacher role for the large number of younger ones.
The second teaching opportunity is a young school project that caters for some of the poorest children. Still in its infancy it does not have enough registered teachers, buildings or resources but is making determined progress teaching c. 60-70 children in small class sizes, from early learners to KG 7 (an educational grade that is irrespective of age, but is typically attained around age 12-14).
The school is partially funded by local charity groups and consists of two blocks of wooden and corrugated makeshift classrooms that can barely be recognised as a school. Yet the teachers they have are proficient and the children polite, respectful and eager to learn, albeit suffering from a lack of funds themselves reflected in their clothes and diet.
Volunteers act as a teaching assistant or teacher to small class sizes, teaching elementary subjects led by text books.
Both schools are in close proximity and a volunteer staying for a number of months could share their time between the two school projects, getting two different but engaging experiences.
Depending on which school you go to and how confident you are feeling, you might start as a teaching assistant, supporting a local teacher and providing help to those children who are struggling to keep up with lessons. When both you and the teacher are confident you are ready, you may be invited to lead a class in English, maths, social studies or science and help widen the experience of the children. If you are given your own class you will be shadowed initially but expect only basic guidance and support.
Providing practice with a native English speaker is a welcome benefit of volunteers, as it helps accelerate their spoken English. Tribal languages are widely spoken but English is the language for education and is therefore important. You can provide this support both formally in lessons and informally outside the classroom.
Volunteers are a crucial resource for developing extra-curricular activities, such as sport, drama, art, music or dance, although volunteers must recognise the lack of resources and therefore help bridge this gap and/or design their activities appropriately.
The activities and interest of volunteers helps in a number of ways. You enhance the children’s learning by supporting and leading classes and offering 121 support where appropriate.
Volunteers give the children confidence through their engagement and encouragement, in particular through extra-curricular activities. Few people have discretionary time to give these children – creating games, clubs and organising sports will both broaden their interests and help discover talents in them and you.
It is definitely worth the money and I would recommend that everyone should have experiences like this. It is fun, emotional, hard yet fulfilling. It has opened my eyes in many situations to my own life and to that I will forever be grateful, Student, Kenya