Half way through 2014 we thought our rollercoaster ride in Gulu was coming to an end. I had been teaching in a local government primary school and what started out as just trying to help out and volunteer in a local government primary (teaching up to 140 kids in one classroom!) slowly progressed to running teacher training workshops in phonics. It was extremely frustrating to see children failing in primary school, even children who were sponsored by western charities, because they were not taught effectively. Chalk and talk methods of rote learning ruled the classroom and local teachers found that they were not taught effective methods of teaching in English (the national/education language in Uganda). I could see God birthing in me a new passion and desire to help the teachers and a pretty big vision (to raise literacy standards across primary schools in Gulu). Ironically, when I was beginning to pack my bags and say my goodbyes that’s when teachers really started to listen. I trained over 300 teachers in my last month in Gulu and attempted some whirlwind follow-up visits but it just wasn’t enough – I needed to go back and do this properly. So I am. I returned to Gulu in January 2015 and have trained more than 150 primary schools since then.
I have started up a charity (national NGO) called READ For Life. We are based from an education resource centre in Gulu and work on teacher training for lower years. We specialise in teaching teachers skills on how to teach reading, writing, and also Early Childhood. We volunteer to teach in the two local primary teaching colleges and also started up our own nursery teacher training college this year.
Our vision is to see all primary school children in Gulu improve significantly in their reading and writing; to equip primary school teachers with the skills needed to teach them in a better way to lift the standard of education; and to improve the general education for early childhood in Gulu.
Although my vision is currently for Gulu, we have hosted training events where teachers have travelled from across the country to attend, and my team and I have travelled around the country to train teachers. Currently READ for Life is a team of 8: we employ three Ugandan teachers; and there are 5 expat volunteers (include myself and Dan).
Thanks for taking an interest, I will try and post some regular updates on how we are getting on – the good, the bad and the ugly. Enjoy the ride!