Information on Volunteer Teacher Placements
- Teaching placements
- Weekly timetable
- Description of Ugandan school system
- Syllabus and curriculum
- Roles and responsibilities of an Nurture Africa volunteer teacher in Uganda
- Things to remember when planning a scheme of work
- Building project
- Pre- trip orientation
- Orientation schedule in Uganda
- Support systems for volunteers
Please click on the links below for more information
Teachers can really make an impact with their work in our partner schools, especially in areas such as group work and positive reinforcement, practices which are not commonly used in Uganda.
It is imperative to us that the highest possible standards of education are delivered by our partner schools because, within them, Nurture Africa is currently sponsoring more than 200 orphans and children made vulnerable as a consequence of HIV/AIDS. All schools in Uganda are fee-paying, so without Nurture Africa these kids would have no chance of going to school.
Nurture Africa believes that education and empowerment offer the key to escaping the poverty-cycle. Our child sponsorship programme provides that opportunity by giving vulnerable kids access to a school education. We commit to support children’s education from primary right through to third level.
Nansana (urban option)
Volunteers will be working in schools that are local to Nurture Africa’s Children’s Library and Paediatric Health Centre, in the semi-urban town of Nansana. It is located about seven miles outside Kampala, the capital city.
Kasambya (rural option)
Volunteers will teach in the beautiful, rural district of Mubende. Nurture Africa has a base there in the town of Kasambya. Since 2009 we have branched out to establish new projects in this area where there is a great need for child services and volunteer input. Candidates for this placement should be confident and experienced in their field of work, self-motivated and independent.
You will be working half-days in your placement school, from approximately 8am –1pm. So, you’re not in school ALL the time – in fact, your timetable is packed with variety, giving you a broad experience of many aspects of Ugandan life.
Volunteer teachers work closely with their Ugandan colleagues, sharing ideas and techniques. Weekly workshops will be held
At least two days of your timetable will be spent on a building project, where you’ll work in teams on a construction project. Previous volunteers have built homes for vulnerable familes and contributed to the construction of children’s libraries and our paediatric clinic.
You will work on the Nurture Africa Library Outreach Program. This involves bringing library books and PE equipment to different local schools and organizing reading and play activities. The schools are so desperately under-resourced that this is a really special activity for the kids, who might never otherwise have had the opportunity to hold a book. We have seen the impact of these projects in the improved literacy levels of children who regularly access our library services.
Volunteers will visit families on our HIV Community Healthcare Programme, through which Nurture Africa helps children gain access to the life-saving medication they desperately need, giving them the opportunity to live a normal life like any other child.
There will be a weekly evaluation session for all volunteer teachers, giving you the opportunity to meet up and discuss how your placement is going and offer any feedback you might have.
Lessons in Ugandan schools are taught in English which is the national language. However, English is not likely to be the first language of the pupils so it’s a good idea to speak slowly and clearly to ensure that you’re understood.
The academic year runs from February until the end of November. The schools are on holiday during December and January – the equivalent to our summer break.
The vast majority of schools in Uganda are private. The schools tend to be basic structures with minimal classroom resources.
School fees must be paid to cover a child’s tuition and at least one meal a day in school. Fees and additional costs for uniforms, P.E. gear and stationery are met by the children’s guardians or by the Nurture Africa Child Education Enablement Programme.
The style of teaching and learning that is widely practiced in Uganda does differ somewhat to Ireland, mainly due to practical reasons including:
- The challenges presented by large class sizes.
- The use of rote-learning as a teaching method, due to a shortage of text books and other resources.
- Children’s work is seldom displayed on the walls due to:
- A shortage of resources.
- The fact that positive reinforcement is not traditionally recognized as a method of teaching and learning.
- Classrooms are often very exposed to the elements (dust and wind).
- Corporal punishment was outlawed in Uganda in 2006 however it has not been fully eradicated and might still take place in some schools.
The academic standard of the children in Uganda is generally very high. The role of Nurture Africa volunteer teachers is to facilitate teaching and learning through methods seen on the Irish curriculum; for example group work, positive reinforcement etc. These methods are rarely seen in the average Ugandan classroom.
The local teachers that we work alongside are generally very forward thinking and open to practical suggestion. We encourage volunteers to embrace this opportunity for cultural interchange; to share ideas with Ugandan staff members and learn from one another.
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN PLANNING A SCHEME OF WORK
Schools have very limited resources or equipment so Nurture Africa provides our partner schools with some teaching materials. However, the impact of our work will be more sustainable throughout the year if Ugandan teachers see positive results in the classroom without using materials that the school can’t normally afford. This will encourage the Ugandan staff to continue implementing more progressive teaching methods and promoting child interaction, using only the minimal resources that are already available.
Volunteers will be required to give workshops to local Ugandan teachers during the placement. The workshops will address a different subject each week (for example, ‘Positive reinforcement strategies’ or ‘Using Art to promote learning’) and will afford the Ugandan teachers a greater insight of what we are teaching their pupils, and the rationale behind the lesson structure.
One day a week will be spent working on a construction project, building a house for a vulnerable family or a community building (e.g. children’s centre or clinic). You’ll be involved in the building process, from clearing the land of vegetation, digging foundations, collecting water, mixing cement and laying bricks. Previous volunteers always comment on what a tremendously rewarding experience it is to see a house rise up before your eyes and to be able to say that ‘I helped build it!’
Please note that absolutely no knowledge or experience of the construction industry is required. You will be working under the supervision of professional Ugandan builders, using local materials and methods. You don’t need to be very strong or fit; just be willing to work as a team, get stuck in and get your hands dirty!
A lot of practical and mental preparation must be undertaken before you leave Ireland. This is necessary to ensure that you are fully geared up for the trip and that you know what to do and what is expected of you when you arrive in Uganda. Although it always takes some time for every volunteer to adjust, volunteers who are well prepared in advance tend to adapt easier to life in Uganda. For that reason, Nurture Africa places great importance on preparing every teacher for his/her placement.
One Induction workshop will be held in Dublin in April and a second Orientation Workshop will be held in May. These sessions will help you prepare for the trip, plan for the placement and get to know your volunteer team-mates. Attendance to both workshops is compulsory.
A list of resources will be made. Sometimes, for one reason or another, resources will not be available in Uganda and ideas which work well here would not be practical out there.
Your first couple of days in Uganda will be spent on our general orientation programme, to familiarize you with your new surroundings and help you settle in.
The first day spent in school is an observation day. You will get to meet all the staff, get a tour of the school and meet your link teacher. You will also discuss expectations of how you will spend your time in your assigned school. This observation day is important as it gives you the opportunity to adapt to how different it is to an Irish school; especially the large class sizes and the lack of resources. You will soon get an understanding of the school routine and how the pupils and teachers interact.
This is followed by your first day of actual teaching. Don’t panic! Finding your feet happens quicker than you might expect! Due to the large class sizes, ‘Team Teaching’ is a highly useful and effective approach. It gives you the support of another Nurture Africa volunteer teacher and affords the children more individual attention.
- A Nurture Africa Volunteer Coordinator will visit you in school and at your accommodation and will be available to assist you should any issues arise.
- Regular evaluation meetings take place with all the volunteer teachers to assess and monitor your progress.
- A Ugandan link teacher will be assigned to you in your school to help you settle in and answer any queries you have. Regular informal meetings will be held to look at areas both you and the school are happy with and areas that may need attention.