Warwick in Africa and Academic Mobility ( By Ruth Dorrell)
For 11 years, Warwick in Africa has been selecting the brightest and best Warwick students to undergo an inspirational and transformative volunteer experience. Our volunteers spend between four and six weeks of their summer teaching either Maths or English in secondary schools in Ghana, South Africa or Tanzania. They act as classroom teachers, bringing their energy, enthusiasm and passion for learning to under-resourced classrooms. We see from learner feedback that they have a huge impact not just on Maths and English subject knowledge, but also on the ambition, motivation and confidence of the young people they work with. They also learn a lot about themselves; in 2016 98% of volunteers told us they felt their confidence, communication and resilience had significantly improved by taking part in Warwick in Africa.
“Spending my summer trying something totally new made me a more confident, outgoing and compassionate person.”
As well as working with learners in the classroom, supporting local teachers is another key focus of Warwick in Africa’s work and one that we are looking to increase. Teachers in our partner school in all three countries have a tremendously difficult job, they work long hours with little more than a blackboard and a piece of chalk for very little money. Whilst the Warwick Student volunteers provide an excellent boost to their school during their placement, we also work directly with teachers to provide them with some additional support and CPD training to motivate them to continue working hard and pushing their learners.
“It is almost impossible to find good training like the Warwick Master Classes…I was even thinking about quitting teaching altogether but these workshops have been encouraging me and everyone else here. I loved everything about the Master Classes. This is the first time I have received training like this since I completed my degree in English over 20 years ago!”
Since 2008 we have run a Study Programme for the most motivated and hardworking teachers, giving them the opportunity to spend two weeks at Warwick visiting local schools and meeting with academics and education experts. We have also recruited experienced teachers to run “Masterclass” workshops since 2010. There is a great need for training and support in the locations we work and participants get a lot out of taking part of the workshops we run.
In 2016 we collaborated with Warwick’s Centre for Professional Education to pilot a new approach to supporting teachers in Warwick in Africa’s partner schools that requires fewer volunteers and focuses on developing local capacity through more tailored coaching model of training and support. Through this pilot we hoped to develop a model that could enable us to expand our teacher support to more Warwick in Africa partner schools, as we currently only work in Ghana and once location in South Africa. What we have learnt is that by upskilling local teachers to be workshop facilitators and change agents in their local communities we can empower them and realise a sustainable method of scaling support to teachers.
Our hope is that we can harness the immense talent and intellect of Warwick staff to help us to implement this through engaging with the Warwick study programme and taking part in a reciprocal visit to Africa to support our teachers to embed what they have learnt from visiting Warwick and share it with others. We are in the process of outlining what this model might look like, but anticipate we will be looking for staff from either the academic or administrative communities at Warwick to work with us in 2017 to deliver this and support us to motivate and inspire communities of engaged and active teachers across the locations we work with in Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa.