Last Saturday, February 24, 2018, World Teacher Aid held its second annual Teachers Conference at Hotel Waterbuck in Nakuru.
Teachers from our eleven schools (as of right now) came together for the one-day conference that aims to bring together our schools. We strive to “Make them Awesome,” in pursuit of the second phase of our planned program.
About 100 attendees took part in the conference, with a few teachers missing the conference due to unavoidable circumstances or due to prior engagements. World Teacher Aid schools have about 114 teachers working there; most are government employed, while others are employed by the community (especially in the newest schools) as interim teachers before the government fully deploys its own teachers in these schools. This year we also involved early childhood education (kindergarten) teachers since they will be integral in the incoming education system.
The main objectives of the conference were to first follow up on last year’s conference and see what progress we have made since then (the inaugural conference) and second, to seek clarification of government education policies since we are in a state of change due to a new education system being introduced in phases. Hence, we needed clarity on what to do and what is needed from our educators. The third objective was continuing to bring our schools closer and especially bringing the new schools into the fold. Fourth was fostering interaction between World Teacher Aid, the government and teachers who actually run our schools into a single forum. Then, questions were asked and answers were provided or workarounds were given on the challenges facing our schools.
This year’s conference was also the first since we increased our Kenya team to a three-person field team. The conference was chaired by Irene Wairimu, the Director of VICDA, our partner non-profit in Kenya.
The first speaker was a motivation and ethics speaker who has over 30 years of experience as a high school teacher and administrator, Mrs. Margaret Nzau. She explored what should motivate a teacher and what is expected of a teacher. She has a lot of experience that spoke true to the experience teachers face while doing their jobs. This was her second time being involved in our conferences so she was familiar with the reported challenges and unique environment our schools operate in. Throughout her talk, she pushed teachers to engage the students more and help them bring out their full potential.
The second speaker was Mr. George Ontili, an official from the Ministry of Education. He has also been involved in our conferences and attended last year’s principals and headmasters meeting. He spoke on what the government wants from the teachers and the foundation policies that are informing government programs from now on. He also answered questions about registration of new schools since he is responsible for this in Nakuru county.
The last speaker was a curriculum specialist in the Ministry of Education, Mr. Samuel Chemusion. He mainly spoke of the new changes happening in the education sector. He clarified the policies and reforms currently underway to improve the education outcomes in Kenya. He also spoke of how the focus is moving from examinations to being more balanced. Therefore, students who are creative or good at sports can be nurtured as much as those who do well in academic disciplines. Afterwards, he also answered questions of curriculum designs and how changes will happen. Although not all questions were answered, he shed light on what he had information on and on what we should wait for to be clarified by the national government.
In the afternoon, teachers from all our schools also engaged WTA and VICDA (Irene’s organization) with inquiries on the various programs we have with them. They asked additional follow-up questions to the two Ministry of Education officials. The officials answered all the queries they could. We also clarified our plans programs and mode of engagement, especially for the new schools.
All in all, this year’s conference was a great success and the feedback we are getting is encouraging since we are building the capacity of the teachers who teach our children and run the schools we have built.
Sam, WTA Field Rep