Our founders had a long history of memberships in student unions and volunteering projects, and are convinced of the unrivaled enthusiasm of students and their abilities to get the most out of every opportunity. We believe students who are eager to translate their education into practice in aims of helping other people have the kind of mentality necessary for success.
What we do is connect a group of 5 students from Belgium with a small group of English teachers in Peru. Each student will be directly responsible for three teachers, but you can work together as a team. By doing so, they can set up an education plan specifically tailored to their group of teachers. Teaching English to the Peruvian teachers is one thing, creating an environment in which these teachers and their respective students want to learn English is another. What is fundamental is being able to tackle the problem end-to-end. This grounds precisely why roping in project students from different educational backgrounds is key. We believe the student groups should not remain limited to English language students, but that they should also accommodate those with different backgrounds, be it pedagogy, psychology, or something else. What matters is that each student is self-driven and dedicated in emphasising the importance of English, atop of supporting our Peruvian teachers in their expertise. We believe that English can grant these developing communities access to a whole other world, one fuller of opportunities and prospects.
Once the groups are formed, the project is set in motion. Remote Skype classes will be conducted twice per month by the project students, with a view of improving the English knowledge of the Peruvian teachers. The main goal is to help them advance, step by step, through cooperation. By giving extra tasks that they will need to complete by the next session, we make sure it’s a continuous plan with optimal results. The course of the project will enhance the teaching skills of our students, while allowing them to familiarise themselves in a teaching environment. These elements are crucial to the last step of the project.
The project students will then visit Peru for 6 weeks where they will observe, teach and evaluate what they have accomplished during the year. In the first two weeks, they will sit in on classes to observe our Peruvian teachers, providing feedback where they can. This is followed by our Peruvian teachers having two weeks of vacation to which they will invest their time in learning more English and improving their teaching methods with the guidance of the project students. During the last weeks, the project students will observe and evaluate the teachers again before leaving Peru.
The English teachers from Peru will do a language test when they first get connected to the students from Belgium and again after the project students leave Peru. They will get a Teach the Teachers certificate with an evaluation of the progress they have made.
A timeline for our volunteers
November: the volunteers are recruited.
December: the volunteering team is put together, first teambuilding to get to know each other.
December-January: “blok” – exam period for our volunteers, Teach the Teachers is ‘quiet’
February: preparation period – workshops, teambuilding and preparing lesson plans
March – May: bi-monthly online calls with the Peruvian Teachers
June: exam period for our volunteers, Teach the Teachers is ‘quiet’
July-August: Final workshops and off to Peru for 6 weeks!
September: Closing – reflection, feedback and final teambuilding
Jeroen’s prior projects and connections in Peru marks the starting point of our project. With the support of Ana Maria and Victor, both of whom work in education, we are able to closely coordinate with Peru.
At the start, we had 9 highly motivated teachers from schools in Chirinos, San Ignacio and Jaén interested in partaking in this program, as explained in the section ‘How it works’. The next year already 40 teachers were interested in joining this project. Beginning with this small group, we aim to expand to other regions and schools following necessary evaluations and adjustments.
Our plans for the future.
This year, we are collaborating with 2-3 schools, through which we are in contact with around 40 teachers. We are certain that over time, we will be able to expand our network in Peru, urging more and more teachers to participate.
Education in Peru works a bit differently from that in Belgium. Teachers are required to sit for a test before they are qualified to teach. Successful candidates then attain ‘permanencia’, a status that allows them to begin their teaching endeavours wherever they want to for their desired duration. Otherwise, they will first be attached to schools allocated by the government, from which they can proceed to transfer to another school. By learning from what we’ve experienced in our first project, we hope to become the reference for teachers seeking to achieve ‘permanencia’.
For the Belgian students who participate in our project, we aim to make our project possible as a school course. Our project promises opportunities and guidance we believe are relevant in inculcating a more holistic education for our participating students. It will be an enriching and meaningful experience.
This is ultimately our rule of thumb: teach the teachers, so they can teach the students. We want to contribute to honing the skills of teachers in developing countries, so they can better communicate with the world and secure better futures for themselves. The students they influence can also receive a better education and grow to become more motivated in improving themselves for others.