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
Mentor Gladys and child with the Pink Tower
Trainee Gladys working on her materials