Catharine Corbin (Washington, DC)
Originally designed to support the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Health Education and Reconciliation (HEAR) project is currently in its seventh year of implementation and is building the capacity of community members, government officials, educators, and health workers to foster sustainable access to quality education and health services. Although the English is the language of instruction in South Sudan, many teachers were originally trained in Arabic or other local languages. Through HEAR, teachers build their skills and confidence to teach effectively in English. HEAR has worked in the border regions between the North and South Sudan since 2006 and now implements programming in four northern states in South Sudan. Since South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, the HEAR project has shifted its focus to target internally displaced persons and returnees in the Republic of South Sudan zones of Agok, as well as the surrounding states bordering the North: Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Unity.
In January 2013, the HEAR project held a training for English tutors who will conduct a two-week training course for teachers followed by individual and small group support sessions twice a week for the remainder of the project. Twenty-five tutors from five project sites journeyed to Wau in Western Bahr el Ghazal to attend the workshop.
“Language is a problem here. During this transitional period – now almost 8 years – all of us South Sudanese know we need to turn to English. But we have not prepared ourselves and that is why we are here now. We are working for one purpose and the name ‘Creative’ means we need to be creative in our teachings and methodologies so we can stand on our own feet and keep working towards our goals.”
Gabriel Rhok, the acting Director General of Education in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, opened the HEAR English language tutor training session with these remarks. Despite temperatures that soared to over 105 degrees Fahrenheit each day, participants remained actively engaged and enthusiastic throughout the training.
The teacher training modeled approaches tutors can simulate when they lead their own classes. Each morning began with a community builder exercise, crucial to create a fun and safe learning environment for language learners to participate and succeed. After the sessions, tutors could see how important it is to differentiate instruction techniques and review new vocabulary and phrases over and over again with students. The participants left the training empowered with a plethora of fun, engaging activities to help teachers through the five stages of language learning: encountering, clarifying, remembering, internalizing, and then fluent use. At the conclusion of the training, Mr. Rhok emphasized the need for the tutors to continue to put forth a great effort by saying, “South Sudan will be able to stand on its own feet if we keep working.”
Catharine Corbin, Technical Manager for Education, Creative Associates International