Community Learning Hubs for Refugees

The teacher training Avonbrook has supported in recent years, which is still on-going, is part of Xavier Project’s Education Community Hub model, and forms one of the learning packages. Community members have been playing the role of teachers, even when not qualified due to the shortage of formally trained professionals. The training Xavier Project provide has covered basic pedagogy but also created layers of pastoral support for teachers who have an unimaginably challenging job.

Avonbrook’s grant in 2019, the largest single grant we have ever made, has bolstered Xavier Project’s ability to provide:

  • capacity building for Xavier Project’s local partner, L’Africana
  • on-going teacher training for community educators
  • consultation in the implementation of “GCSE for refugees”
  • day to day running costs to cover the two-year pilot while L’Africana get closer to financial sustainability

Education in Emergencies Course

In 2016, Avonbrook made a grant to Xavier Project for a pioneering project that sought to train refugees in teaching, both their fellow refugees but also to be used in either their home or host country.

Currently it is not possible for refugees to become full-time qualified teachers employed by the Teachers Service Commission in Kenya. Xavier Project is working to address this policy, along with other partners. However, it is possible for refugees to learn pedagogical skills that will help them deliver basic education in emergency settings. This is vital with the overcrowding of schools in refugee camps and the lack of access to any school for the majority of refugee children. The shortage of teachers in North Eastern Kenya is largely down to the insecurity seen in the region.

The Government of Kenya and UNHCR facilitated a voluntary repatriation programme for Somali refugees living in Kenya. While a large number returned, the education opportunities for returning refugee children have largely been neglected. Returning refugees with a certificate in Education in Emergencies can be key actors in addressing this problem and reinvigorating the education sector in Somalia.

The course will be delivered over a period of a year at the University of Nairobi (UoN). The curriculum has been developed by pedagogy specialists at UoN and qualified teachers from within the Xavier Project staff team. The course will cover instructional methods, curriculum development, administration and psychology in education in emergencies. Content will also be based on subjects taught in the Kenyan public school curriculum. One whole term of teaching practice will be conducted.

From Xavier Project’s original proposal

Therefore, Xavier Project proposed that 20 refugees in Kenya complete a course in education in emergencies provided by the University of Nairobi in partnership with Xavier Project. Avonbrook agreed to fund this pioneering project.

Multi-year partnership 2020-22

For ten years, Avonbrook Projects Abroad have been an important supporter of PEAS’ work in both Uganda and Zambia. With PEAS on their journey from one country to two, from four schools to 32, from fewer than 1,000 students to the 15,000 students they educate today – with an aligned focus on unlocking quality education through the training of passionate teachers in developing countries.

At the end of 2019, Avonbrook agreed to fund the first year of, what we hope, will be a multi-year partnership with PEAS and the largest grant we have ever made to a partner organisation. The grant is unrestricted, but Avonbrook understands that a key part of the work in Zambia over the coming years is an updated teacher training programme, learning the lessons from its work across Zambia and Uganda.

This work will focus on updating its programme of continuous professional development (CPD), supporting schools in embedding the Lesson Study as part of their CPD programme, and training teachers on how to use data to inform their approach to teaching as PEAS implement a new School Information System for the first time.

The PEAS CPD framework focuses on strengthening teachers’ pedagogical skills, and is adapted in schools based on needs assessments. This differs to training sessions offered by the Ministry of General Education which tend to focus on updates to the curriculum rather than pedagogy.

Teacher Training Programme

PEAS believes in providing development opportunities for teachers, not offered by the government. Providing Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training helps to build local capacity and expertise to improve the quality of education in the long term, and PEAS has seen a dramatic impact on students’ learning and results.

CPD activities are based around the PEAS’ ‘Great Teacher Rubric’ and focus on six areas that PEAS values as fundamental to achieve quality education, namely:

  1. Teacher motivation and mind-set;
  2. Planning and preparation;
  3. Classroom delivery;
  4. Assessment and feedback;
  5. Climate for learning;
  6. Community and contribution.

The ‘Great Teacher Rubric’ was initially developed for PEAS’ Uganda network and has now been rolled out in Zambia.

CDP activities aim to guide and support the teachers by helping them reflect on how they can help students achieve their full potential. Examples of activities included in the CPD programme:

  • Teacher Group Meeting
  • Peer Observations
  • School Visits
  • CPD Audit and Topic Planning
  • Formal Lesson Observations
  • Teacher Self-Reflection

The teacher training programme is carefully designed and implemented by the Regional Programme Manager (RPM), in partnership with the Head Teacher and Director of Education at each of PEAS Zambia’s schools. The RPM is key to ensuring a relevant and quality teacher training programme in each PEAS school in their region.

Avonbook contributed to the cost of teacher training across the PEAS Zambia network.

Director of Education (Xavier Project)

Since 2012, Avonbrook paid the salary for a Director of Education, working across Xavier Project’s work in Uganda.

In 2012-13, the Director of Education engineered the expansion of the sponsorship programme from 16 to 50 refugee students by the start of the academic year, he planned and ran an English camp for fifty children, which ran for seven weeks, and he opened a mobile library providing one-on-one reading tuition for refugee children. He also completed a piece of research into education opportunities for the refugee community, and has worked closely with UNHCR in designing an education strategy for all operating partners working with refugees in Kampala. Part of this strategy has included working on a five day teacher training course designed for teachers of our English course that can be of benefit to all teachers.

In 2014, the sponsorship programme was extended to 100 children.

The Director of Education in Uganda is responsible for:

  • The collation of data on each student and the payment of school fees directly to the schools
  • Mobilising of parents of students into support groups of 6-10 families who will meet at least once per term.
  • In partnership with the education consultant in UK, the Director developed a teacher training course for teachers of the English course and potential future Xavier Project teachers
  • Co-ordination of the extra-curricular programme, including a computer literacy and social media curriculum.
  • Co-ordinating the mobile library. This was expanded to 15 schools with high refugee numbers, while volunteers help deliver one-to-one reading tuition for refugees on this programme.
  • Researching, marketing, fundraising for and supervising the implementation of the English camp for 100 children