Kakuma teacher keeps students learning throughout pandemic

Monday, October 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Teacher Obang Omot Oboya with his six students at Kakuma Refugee Camp. Photo/PD/MILIAM MURIGI

When schools were closed abruptly because of Covid-19 in March, teachers went home. 

However, not all teachers retreated to their homes as they wait for the reopening of schools.

Some devised ways of ensuring students continued learning despite the closure. 

This is why as the world celebrates the 2020 World’s Teachers Day (WTD) also known as International Teachers’ Day today, such efforts won’t just be ignored.

The day aims to raise awareness about the role of teachers in delivery of quality education at all levels and to improve the welfare of teachers in the world. 

This year, WTD is celebrated with the theme, “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future”.

One such teacher is Obang Omot Oboya, who during our recent visit to the Kakuma Refugee Camp we found him teaching a group of six students under a tree.

“I hold lessons every day and every lesson is attended by a maximum of six students. The students are clustered this way and each knows which lesson to attend.

Though am not doing this alone I am proud to be part and parcel of this programme.”

The 27-year-old teacher, who teaches maths and science (Classes Seven and Eight) says this has been the norm since April, and he will continue until the schools are reopened.

He says that since they rely on radio broadcast, his work is to visualise what the radio teacher prepares.

“Unlike TV broadcast, students using radio broadcast aren’t able to visualise the information given by the teacher.

This is why I decided to be visualising what the radio teacher prepares to ensure the students can grasp the content.”

Broadcasting radio lessons have been the quickest option for continued schooling in Kenya.

Most counties have different radio stations that are being used to educate students who suddenly found themselves out of school.

However, the biggest challenge has been how to ensure that such lessons are beneficial and students who follow such lessons remain attentive.

This is the gap that Omot and other teachers are trying to bridge.

Learning environments 

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in this crisis, teachers have shown, as they have done so often, great leadership and innovation in ensuring that learning never stops and that no learner is left behind.

Around the world, teachers have worked individually and collectively to find solutions and create learning environments for students to allow education to continue.

“I decided to do this because television broadcast was almost impossible here. It took the help of Finn Church Aid who distributed solar-powered radios to ensure that the programme was a success.”

Finn Church Aid (FCA) is the largest Finnish international aid organisation that has been providing emergency aid, hygiene supplies, and distance learning as well as awareness of the disease in different countries. 

In Kenya, FCA has handed out 500 solar-powered radios to learners in the Kakuma refugee camp, enabling them to follow lectures.

 Though at first, it was difficult to catch the interest of learners through the radio and get them into a radio class routine, Omot says that visualising what the radio teacher is teaching has helped a lot.

“When students are attending those lessons, I carry with me a blackboard and chalk to demonstrate what the teacher is saying.

This has helped a lot since it keeps the students attentive. Additionally, I mark the assignments given by the radio teacher at the end of every lesson.”

Apart from that, he breaks down lessons into segments and achievable goals, and he attends to each student individually to ensure that they grasp the concepts.

Every day, there are eight radio lessons which take 35 minutes each. This means he teaches 48 learners every day, who are divided into eight groups.

And since his classes have about 80 students, the remaining 32 learners are taught by parents who volunteer as teachers after training with FCA.

“This programme of supporting learners when they cannot come to school is of great help because it keeps the students busy.

And since different students have different learning paces, it is easy to give attention to each student unlike when they are in school where a typical class has about 80 students.”

According to him, despite all this, not all students have been showing up during those lessons because of various issues.

Some especially girls have been married off, others are pregnant and others have joined their parent’s daily hustles.

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