By Heather Henderson
I am almost 12 months into my placement here at Ruben School in Mukuru kwa Ruben. It has been an amazing journey of education for me and to my host community. This community continues to embrace my efforts to help and advise where and when I am asked. It is a mutual benefit as my life is richer for my experience and sharing of life and culture here. I have now more questions than answers. In fact if you ask me what is the answer I will give you a question. I don’t have answers any more. Just questions.
There are days when I ask myself what I am doing and is anyone listening. Today I received a reward that has lifted my spirits and swelled my heart.
I observed Teacher Lydia teaching with passion and joy, her pre-unit class using a new system called Tayari. It is a pre-cursor to Tusome which is taught in Classes 1 and 2. Tayari is using actions and sounds to teach both the Kiswahili and English alphabets. There is the use of big books with large format pictures and also rhymes and singing. Pre-unit students no longer do exams and the teachers have been advised to just play as they will learn through play.
Lydia has also adopted the practice of group work in her classroom. She related to me that she has found a new lease in her teaching and it shows through her enthusiasm for her work.
“Group work teaches the students leadership skills through adopting roles of responsibility for students. It is easier for the teacher to manage the class,” Lydia related to me.
Lydia is now reflecting some of the practices and skills I have been sharing with the teachers and I have seen how effective they have been. I now see how the fruits of my labour have taken seed. Today I am a very happy person and I also have a new lease on life and ready to go forth with new hope.
Heather Henderson, from Brisbane, is now half-way through her placement at Ruben Centre in Nairobi, Kenya. She has also volunteered through Palms Australia with the Atabae Community in Timor-Leste, 2013-14.