To: Martin Sebuliba, Director, Springs Alive School
I want to thank you again for the opportunity to
visit your school and meet your teachers and the students and
the families in your village. The music, dancing singing and pageantry
was outstanding and we were honored to be a part of your graduation
As promised, I have returned to the United States
with a better understanding of your situation and the needs of
the children in your village.
From my perspective, I would summarize the situation
You have several obstacles to a thriving and effective
school including a lack of electricity, a lack of textbooks and
other teaching materials, underpaid and underprepared faculty,
nconsistency in student attendance, inconsistency in teacher attendance,
variation in teacher's use of English, and an inability to consistently
and predictably get materials and money to the site.
Therefore, I believe the most effective way to improve
student learning and increase effectiveness is to move your school
system to what we in the United States call, "student - centered".
This has become an increasingly popular methodology here in the
US to overcome many of the same issues you are dealing with there
(lack of attendance, dropout rates, inconsistent teacher supply).
The educational research done here in the last 2 decades has shown
that student-centered schools have in fact improved student learning,
student engagement, and student outcomes.
The basic principle here is to put the emphasis
on the student for driving his or her own learning. The teachers
(or trained adult) in the room acts more as a facilitator or coach
and work one-on-one with students as needed. Because the emphasis
is on student directed learning rather than teacher - centered
delivery, the instruction is not affected by inconsistent attendance
nor lack of trained teachers.
I would propose that we begin by setting up a list
of basic competencies for each of your grade levels (or preferably,
a multi-age grouping). Then we would begin to assemble a variety
of student hands-on activities to teach each of the competencies.
These activities would come with a small test and answer key for
the teacher. The teacher then would mark off when a child passed
one the competencies and they would move on to another. Once a
satisfactory number of competencies has been passed, the student
would graduate to the next grade level.
If this is something that is of interest to you
and your teachers, I will spearhead the development of the program
here in the US. We may have to concentrate on one grade level
at a time. Once the activities are put together, we would need
to return to your school and provide a day or two of training
with your teachers, during a school term, so that they would be
familiar with how to help the students engage. We could start
right away in this next term using many of the materials and activities
that we left there at the school last week.
I believe this would be the most effective way to
advance your school and would elminate the pressure for monetary
funds and / or the pressure to find and pay for registered teachers.
The only obstacle might be securing the learning materials on
a day to day basis.
You might be interested in knowing too, that as
a result of our visit last week, we now have two side organizations
running - one to bring dresses to the girls in your village on
our next visit and one to purchase and bring student tables to
your upper grade classrooms on our next visit.
I look forward to hearing from you and look forward
to continued cooperation between us.
Dr Kathie F Nunley