Teachers Without Borders - Canada for the second year held a one week teacher professional development workshop in Naivasha, Kenya for both primary and secondary school teachers in the district. The participants agreed that the sessions which covered teaching approaches and methodologies in English, Mathematics and Sciences were of great value to their teaching.
Teachers Without Borders – Canada came into the country for similar workshops for the first time in July last year and did training sessions in Maai-Mahiu. This year, the programme went further and covered Mbita, Laikipia and Naivasha districts. The primary and secondary school teachers were integrated together in the sessions bridging the divide and bringing the two groups to understand the challenges arising from the transitional process of learners from primary to secondary.
While the difference in subjects’ areas content between Kenya and Canada in their systems of education may be wide but not necessarily phenomenal, the best approaches in delivery of that content are applicable both ways and anywhere else.
The workshops' covered areas of learning styles, cooperative learning, learning through inquiry, reading strategies and study/organizational methods, to mention a few, packaged powerfully to help teachers work collaboratively and effectively with their learners in the classroom.
The forum provided opportunity for teachers to evaluate the way they handle their lessons as they were subjected to practical learner situations. It is worth noting that some of the teachers have had few and far between or no opportunities at all to attend professional development seminars.
Many teachers in the country tend to forget about teaching methodologies and concentrate more on mastery of content so that the classrooms end up with fantastic lecturers who know it all but learners who cannot make application of the learned material in other situations. This being the very antithesis of essentially what learning is about - the ability to transfer and apply learned concepts to new situations in life.
The team of thirteen Canadian teachers made certain areas which are perceived difficult to teach appear rather simple when a creative approach was introduced. To collaborate with the visiting team was a group of twelve Kenyan teachers who participated in last year's training and were given a leading role as facilitators.
The Kenyan curriculum of education emphasizes more on the content - syllabus coverage - the reason why there has been debate about high workload for learners but does not enhance teacher re-training on the delivery of that content in the classrooms. As a graduate teacher, I did only two units in subject methods in my bachelor’s degree but each semester I waded through loads of material in the content areas of my two teaching subjects.
The Canadian organization's core objective is to close the global divide among teachers in terms of their professional development. The workshop's course needs to be recommended for incorporation in local teacher training colleges and in the faculties of education at the university. Countries benefitting from the TWBC program have an opportunity to tap from international opportunities of this nature to build the capacity of its professionals.