Education  Kenya Project #50221

Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers

by Association Montessori Internationale
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Montessori Training for East Pokot Teachers
Child in East Pokot working with the Brown Stairs
Child in East Pokot working with the Brown Stairs

When schools closed in April, the 2022 Montessori students Danson, Gladys, Julius and Sharon went home for a short break. They found their community in a tense situation. The long drought had severely affected their community. Many people lacked food and families migrated to look for greener pastures. The lack of food and water induced conflict, which led to insecurity in the region. The government took drastic measures to address the violence.

The trainees explain that it had been hard to be at home during the break, as there was heavy military presence, along with a curfew. “I believe that education is a solution to curb our problems” Sharon says. She would like to enable more children to go to school once she is fully trained and she would love to open schools in areas where children do not have the opportunity to go to school. Julius thinks that Montessori education will have a great impact on his community, as it fosters respect and peace; “If all children learn the Montessori way, they will become responsible and learn to live with others, promoting peace in the region”. The trainees are convinced that education has the power to heal their society.

 Sharon shares that during the holiday, they were asked several times where they go to college as people were curious to learn more about the training. Gladys got a chance to give a talk to the young people in her community and she shared her experience with Montessori training in the college. Her talk sparked a lot of enthusiasm and interest among the audience. Gladys is very proud of her training and how she is now seen as a role model for the young people in her community. She has overcome many challenges and was able to continue her education despite the fact that her father refused to educate her beyond secondary school.

After the break, Danson, Gladys, Julius and Sharon started with the second training module at St. Ann’s college and continued to explore new learning areas in their course. So far, they have covered freedom and discipline, planes of development and language. Gladys mentions that she found the presentations challenging at first, but after a lot of practice she is now confident doing a presentation in language. She says that the training is not easy and that it requires a lot of planning to finish the materials and the assignments in time, but she is willing to work hard to achieve her dreams.

A new experience in this module was the observation at the Corner of Hope Montessori school. “It was my first experience in a Montessori environment with children, I have never seen children practicing grace and courtesy. It was amazing to see the things we are learning about in practice,” said Julius. Danson and Sharon added that they found it very interesting to observe what they learnt during their training; children working with the materials independently and putting the materials back in the shelf after the activity, without being told to. “The self-drive and independence of the children was mesmerizing. I cannot wait to start my teaching practice,” said Danson.

The teachers who started their training in 2021, Maureen, Linet, and Evelyne, are now half-way through their teaching practice. During the short break, they took the opportunity to repair and repaint some materials and replace the ones that were missing. Maureen heartwarmingly mentioned that the children are still very new to the materials, and they love them so much that they sometimes take them home to show their parents.

Maureen, Linet and Evelyne have set up their Montessori environments in established schools in East Pokot. They receive frequent mentoring support from the trainers from the college, the Corner of Hope Montessori teachers, and an experienced Montessori teacher from East Pokot. The trainees appreciate the support, as it helps them to refine their skills and become more confident in their practice. “I enjoy working with the children every day” says Maureen. “It is so satisfying to see the changes in the children since they started working with the materials. The children also started to practice grace and courtesy and you can see a positive difference in their behaviour. I never thought it will be possible to achieve what we have achieved in such a short period of time”. Evelyne adds: “This method of teaching works and I am so proud to see the daily changes in the children”.

The trainee teachers will complete their training at the end of 2022 and continue their work as fully trained Montessori teachers. They aim to have more conversations with parents and other members of the community about Montessori education, how it works, and how it supports children in their development. They are confident that with more Montessori trained teachers, the children can receive an education that will greatly contribute to bridging the education gap in their community.

Evelyne working with a child
Evelyne working with a child
Mentor Gladys and child with the Pink Tower
Mentor Gladys and child with the Pink Tower
Trainee Gladys working on her materials
Trainee Gladys working on her materials
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New trainees Danson, Gladys, Julius and Sharon
New trainees Danson, Gladys, Julius and Sharon

Start of Practice in East Pokot
The third training module for the East Pokot trainees ended in November 2021. Maureen, Linet and Evelyne packed their handmade materials and prepared them for transport to the schools before they traveled home to be with their families. When the materials were brought to the schools in East Pokot mid-December, the trainees were already waiting for them to arrive so that they could set up the environment as they learnt in their training. They set up their environments with the support of Corner of Hope mentor teachers and started working in the Montessori environments from January 2022 onwards to introduce Montessori principles and refine their practice, with ongoing support of the training college and mentor teachers.

Linet, Evelyne and Maureen shared that children and parents are curious about the way the Montessori classrooms are set up. The parents asked many questions about the Montessori method, so the trainees took the time to show them the environment and explain how Montessori works and how the children learn from each activity. They mentioned that many people do not know what Montessori education is and that they are very happy to be the ones to raise awareness in their community. “Being the pioneers and the first to be trained as Montessori teachers makes us so proud. We will ensure that no child is left behind in education,” said Linet.

New Trainees
In December 2021, interviews were conducted with the candidates for the next intake. Twelve candidates who were shortlisted attended the interviews and four were selected to train at St. Ann’s college. Gladys, Danson, Sharon and Julius started their national certificate training in January 2022. The two-year training programme includes one year of Montessori theory and practice at the college, and one year of teaching practice at a Montessori school with continuous mentoring support.

The new trainees started with an orientation to familiarise themselves with the Montessori method, and they were shown the practical room at the college. “The first time I saw the materials displayed I feared that I would never be able to make them” said Sharon, “later, when the trainers took us through the material making, I realised that I can easily work with my hands and mind to make nice materials”. Sharon loves to work with the other trainees as they learn together. The trainees have already started working on their own set of materials. A unique aspect of their training is making handmade materials using locally available resources. “When I look around, I find myself imagining how a plant, piece of stick wood or anything that I see can be used with the children. The training has made us more aware of our surroundings and more creative in using what we have available here” Julius shared.

The trainees are now used to life at the college. They mentioned that their lives have changed for the better as they learn, experience new things, and interact with students from other parts of Kenya. Danson mentioned that prior to the training that brought him to Nakuru, he had never left his small village. He went to school near his home for both primary and secondary education. He appreciates the scholarship as it gave him an opportunity to get out of his community and see new aspects of his country. He has a lot to share with his peers back at home and has vowed to encourage young people to work hard so that they can get a chance to see how life is outside of their community. He mentions that many young people do not get the chance to leave the villages and do not strive to better their lives. His dream has always been to be a teacher and he is very happy that he can fulfill his dream through Montessori training. 

The first module is coming to an end for the new trainees. They have learnt a lot in a short amount of time, and they feel supported and motivated. “I cannot explain how lucky I am,” shared Gladys. “If it wasn't for this opportunity, I would be still at home not knowing what to do. I applied for the scholarship because my father doesn’t see the need to educate a girl, but I have dreams. I want to change that mindset in my community to give hope to every girl not to give up on their education”.

While the trainees enjoy their training and the opportunity to learn, they are also worried about their families and community. It has been a very dry year in Kenya which has left people and animals facing hunger. Most people from the Pokot communities rely on their animals for their livelihoods. They have suffered losses in their herds due to the droughts and were forced to migrate to find pasture and water. The migration has led to insecurity with neighbours as they look for the same resources. The trainees are worried about the welfare of their families, but at the same time they are committed to their training as they see it as a unique opportunity to contribute to a better future for their community.

 

Children in front of their house in East Pokot
Children in front of their house in East Pokot
Sharon at the training college
Sharon at the training college
Danson at the training college
Danson at the training college
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Linet at the college compound
Linet at the college compound

Maureen, Linet and Evelyne are in the third training model of their training at St. Ann’s Montessori college and they are doing well. They will soon sit for their national certificate examination to complete the theoretical part of their training. They will also have completed a full set of Montessori materials and they cannot wait to go and prepare Montessori environments in their communities. From the training they have gained values and skills that will help them to work in any environment, under any circumstance. They now feel ready for their new role as Montessori Guide and will still be supported through frequent mentoring visits as they start their practice.

With a lot of patience, precision, and attention, all three trainees completed their set of handmade materials which have been packed nicely, ready for use in the schools in East Pokot where they will do their teaching practice. Evelyne recalls how at first it was difficult to use a saw and cut out the materials. Now she can measure and cut the wood neatly, without help. Linet says she became a great painter after learning how to paint small objects with precision. She says that Montessori helps one to be organised and patient, especially during the practical and presentation lessons. They are very excited to begin the next phase of their training, guiding the children in the Montessori environments to use the materials they made.

Evelyne, Maureen and Linet recently completed a week of practice at the Corner of Hope Montessori school. Maureen shares that it was an amazing experience for her to work with the children and present different activities to them. It touched and amazed her to see the children’s concentration while working on the different activities. After that experience, she has a lot of confidence to work with children during the teaching practice. She feels ready to guide the children with what she learnt. During their practice they observed the children and wrote down their findings, guided by their trainers. It takes time to master which areas to observe and how to follow up but with practice and mentorship, they believe it will become a second nature.

“Montessori training has given us the principles on how to live with people in society. We feel we have re-learned to live with people and how to treat them with respect, especially the children” says Maureen. The three trainees feel that they are ready to serve the children with a lot of love and with the principles they have learned. Montessori training has given them a new perspective on how to approach and work with people in their environments. They believe that it is the type of education that is highly needed in their community, given the challenges they faced when they went to school. The trainees are very excited to go back and serve in their community. Linet has expressed her plan to look for children who do not attend school and take them to school, with the support of local leaders. She acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges in her community is that there are few schools, and many children cannot attend school because of the distance. One day she hopes to assist in setting up schools that are close to the children so that they do not have to walk so far every day.

Maureen, Linet and Evelyne will start their attachment year in January 2022 at two schools in East Pokot. The schools were very happy to have them and agreed to offer them employment after they finish their training. The trainees look forward to work with the school leaders and teachers to demonstrate Montessori principles and practice. They believe that Montessori education is unique and prepares children to reach their potential. When children can solve problems on their own with little guidance, they are able to achieve a lot, especially in their community where there is little hope of completing education successfully. They believe that there is a thirst for education in the community. Another value they hope to instill is courtesy, which is not very prevalent in their culture. They rarely encountered it as they grew up, but they learned a lot about it during their training. They think that it is an important virtue to have in life.

After completing their certificate training, the trainees intend to continue at the Diploma level to advance their studies and continue learning about the Montessori philosophy. They also hope that more teachers will be trained from their community so that they can bring quality education to all children.

Interviews for a new group of trainees are planned for December 2021. The new group will start their training at St. Ann’s Montessori college in January 2022. We would like to sincerely thank you for your support for the training of Montessori teachers from East Pokot. With your support, we will continue to support the training of Montessori teachers and the establishment of Montessori environments, ultimately increasing access to quality education for the Pokot children.

Maureen at the college compound
Maureen at the college compound
Evelyne at the college compound
Evelyne at the college compound
Preparing for the upcoming exam
Preparing for the upcoming exam
Evelyne, Maureen and Linet in front of the college
Evelyne, Maureen and Linet in front of the college
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Maureen working with language materials
Maureen working with language materials

Linet, Evelyne and Maureen, the three trainees from East Pokot, have now completed two terms of training. The first term began in January. It was a time to learn something new and there was a lot of excitement from the trainees about being in college for the first time. “At first the concept was different and new to me but after a while I started to understand the method and philosophy. I enjoy being in a Montessori training college and I can’t wait to eventually start sharing my knowledge with the children from my community” shares Linet.

During the second term, the trainees made the materials that they will use to set up their Montessori environments for the children in their community. “Making the materials is tedious, but they will support the child to learn and be independent, which is what we aim for as Montessori directresses. I am motivated to make the materials because I now understand their purpose,” says Evelyne.

As part of their training, the trainees went to visit the Corner of Hope school for their observation week. Corner of Hope is a Montessori school set up in an Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camp. Visiting Corner of Hope was an exciting and educational experience for Linet, Evelyne and Maureen. “The calmness and concentration of the children while working with the materials is very captivating,” Maureen shares, as she remembers how different it was when she went to school as a child. She is impressed by the independence the children show and the way they are learning. She shares how after secondary school, she dreamed of joining university to pursue a degree in education. The Montessori training is like a dream coming true for her and she is hopeful that in the future she will continue with her Montessori diploma and a bachelor’s degree.

The three trainees are very enthusiastic about the training and the opportunity to pursue their education. Girls from the Pokot community generally have a very low chance of continuing beyond primary education. When girls reach early adolescence, they are likely to be married off and expected to drop out of school. The situation at home remains difficult for the trainees. With perennial conflict and little rain in the region, there are few opportunities for sustainable economic activity. The guaranteed place for employment after finishing their training is therefore an important opportunity for the trainees. Linet cannot wait to use the materials she is currently proudly making to support the children back home in their development. She is very proud to be a pioneer in Montessori education from her community.

The small allowance that supports the trainees to cover their expenses during their training is shared with their families back home. The trainees feel responsible for taking care of their families and they are happy to be able to support them, especially during the rough times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Linet assisted her family to purchase seeds that were then planted in their farm, and Maureen sends her family dry food, which is cheaper to purchase in Nakuru.

Recently, meetings have been held by Montessori for Kenya and the directors of Claude academy school and St. Luke primary school on how the model of Corner of Hope - a fully established Montessori school along with continuous training of local teachers - can be replicated in their schools located in East Pokot. “Montessori education is needed in our community”, says the director of Claude academy. “I believe in the potential of the child and this community is in high need of teachers and quality education for the children.” Claude academy is one of the schools which will potentially employ current trainees once they start their teaching practice in January 2022.

There is still an enormous need to support more trainees from East Pokot. With the support of motivated and skilled teachers, the children can become agents of peace and change in their community. There are many more trained teachers needed to reach out to the most vulnerable children, who have little access to education. With the financial support we have received so far, we will be able to support another group of trainees in January 2022 and we will continue to raise funds to be able to support more teachers. The recruiting process of the next cohort of trainees will start later this year. There is already great interest in following Montessori training as the three trainees shared stories from their training with others within their communities.   

Evelyne in the college's classroom
Evelyne in the college's classroom
Linet with sandpaper letters
Linet with sandpaper letters
Maureen, Linet and Evelyne with the Pink Tower
Maureen, Linet and Evelyne with the Pink Tower
Maureen making materials
Maureen making materials
Evelyne painting materials
Evelyne painting materials
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Colour tablets made by Linet during the training
Colour tablets made by Linet during the training

In December 2020, a fundraising effort was launched to support the Montessori training of teachers from East Pokot. Thanks to everyone who supported the campaign via GlobalGiving and other channels, a total of 30,000 euros has been raised.

Our local partner Montessori for Kenya (MfK) organised a first meeting in November 2020 for key stakeholders, which was attended by community leaders and other key representatives from Pokot, the principal of St. Ann’s Montessori college, Sr. Veronica Wambui and the head of the education office of the Catholic Diocese of Nakuru. The CEO of MfK Hillary Korir, and Sr Veronica Wambui introduced the Montessori method and the teacher training trajectory that trainees at St. Ann’s follow. The participants of the meeting reacted very positively towards the Montessori method and training and expressed their interest in collaboration to establish Montessori classrooms in Pokot. A call for interviews was then sent out through the village representatives and in December 2020, Hillary Korir and Sr. Veronica Wambui visited East Pokot to conduct interviews. Three trainees were selected based on their interest and motivation. A high school diploma was required, and personal circumstances were also taken into consideration. Linet, Moureen and Evelyne impressed the interviewers and were selected to follow the training at St. Ann’s Montessori college.

Linet is from Tangulbei village. She completed secondary education and always wanted to pursue further education, but had not been able to do so due to financial constraints. Linet wants to follow the Montessori training so she can guide the children from her community to achieve their dreams.

Moureen is from Kositei village. She completed secondary education, but lacked the means to pursue further education so worked in farming to sustain her family. She was inspired by a Montessori trained teacher from her community and decided to apply for Montessori training.

Evelyne is from Tangulbei village. She is the fourth born to a family of six. Evelyne finished her secondary education in 2019. She always had an interest in teaching children, which is why she applied for the Montessori training.

In January 2021, Moureen, Linet and Evelyne started their training at St. Ann’s Montessori college in Nakuru. They have been in training for almost three months and are learning more about Montessori theory and practice each day and have also started to make their very own set of Montessori materials. 

All trainees are very excited about the training. “It has been very interesting to learn about the methodology and to make the materials”, Linet says. Evelyne shares that she has enjoyed her first weeks of training: “I especially love the practical life activities and the material making”. Moureen is so enthusiastic about the training that she is already inquiring about learning opportunities beyond the certificate level. 

A second group of trainees from the Pokot community is expected to start their Montessori training in the second half of 2021. We are happy to share these positive developments with you and would like to sincerely thank you for your support for Montessori teacher training for the Pokot community, ultimately increasing access to quality education for children in East Pokot.

 

Linet, Evelyne and Moureen
Linet, Evelyne and Moureen
Evelyne making the trays for her materials
Evelyne making the trays for her materials
Moureen with the colour tablets she just made
Moureen with the colour tablets she just made

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Association Montessori Internationale

Location: Amsterdam, Noord-Holland - Netherlands
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Project Leader:
Fay Hendriksen
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland Netherlands
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