Our intern Monica interviewed one of our teachers.
This week I met with Caroline, a young facilitator of the Life Skills and Sexuality (LSS) course, to learn more about the program, check on its progress, and work together on lesson plans and activities. The course uses a curriculum titled “Our Future” developed by teachers and pupils in Chipata district with the Zambian ministry of Education, Planned Parenthood Association and Young, Happy, Healthy and Safe. There are two teachers now at Impact Network who travel to several schools throughout the week to deliver lessons to grade 5, 6, and 7 students.
How long have you been teaching this course?
Since June this year. I used to be a regular teacher at one of the Impact schools but now I just teach LSS.
What is a typical day for you?
I wake up, take a bath, get my bike and ride to school. It takes around 30 minutes. It’s really fun, especially going downhill really fast. It feels like a motorbike. I arrive around 6:30, greet people, and have breakfast-- sometimes juice and a muffin. Then I get ready for work. After the last session, I stay with the teachers and learners until around 4:30 and ride home. I draw water, clean the house, and eat. Then I start text chatting with friends. I have one friend at the school, but the others are all far away.
What are your classes like? How old are the students? What are you teaching this week?
It depends. In some schools the students are adults, in others not yet teenagers. Yesterday at Mnyaula the first session was grade 5, a huge class. But it was pretty fun to associate with different learners. After that was grade 6, which was even more fun. The topic this week is friendship. We did drawing activities and a role play activity in small groups about rejection and inclusion. We talked about good virtues of a real friend, such as kindness and loyalty. They got to analyze which friends are real or fake. Next, in grade 7, the topic was “keeping on our path” and our goals in life. We discussed what our goals are, whether it is a job, children, or family, and the importance of having goals. They helps us to work hard and keep away from things that distract. If you have a goal its easier to avoid bad things and stay focused. They also learned there are things in life we have no control over, but not to make excuses and find another way. For example, if I want to go to school but don’t have any money, I can use a talent or skill to make or raise money for it.
What are some of the students’ goals?
To become doctors, nurses, or to pass grade 7. We talked about setting realistic goals too and the stepping stones to achieve it.
And what about your goals?
I want to become a teacher and get a PhD. Now I am learning a lot of things. I learn how to handle a class and learners, how to make lesson plans. This is a good opportunity. I learn every day, it’s an ongoing thing. I am comfortable with myself now despite not having gone to college.
What are some of the challenges of teaching and this course in particular?
Well there are challenges, but it just depends how you go about it. There are sensitive topics but we are trained now. I have to prepare beforehand and think about how I might offend someone. If it’s a gender-sensitive topic, I separate boys and girls into groups and talk to them separately.
What are the highlights of the program? And teaching for you?
One of the positive things is the students are learning to decide their own paths. And they learn about equality. Things are different outside, but in the class, status is put aside and everyone is treated fairly. They learn to be social, friendly, and how to cooperate. Teenagers learn that things happen to them and it’s normal. The females learn how to avoid unwanted pregnancies and girls are becoming more and more educated. About teaching, I like sharing knowledge. I learn different things from learners as well. You have to enjoy it and it won’t seem like hard work. I want to see people I teach grow up to be leaders and feel that I took part in it. I will feel I achieved my goal as a teacher.
This interaction was a useful reminder that education is more than just learning subjects. It’s also important that young people are taught how to make good decisions, set goals, and have healthy friendships and relationships. Most importantly, students have access to accurate information that may prevent them from making a bad decision that could have negative consequences for their lives and futures.