News from Rumbek

Teaching and learning through mentorship

Just as children raised in violent environments are apt to continue that cycle, children who experience loving interactions will take those lessons into their own lives. By demonstrating appropriate, tender ways to be friendly, we teach our younger siblings at a young age what is okay and what isn’t – which is especially important when we aren’t around them.

It also reinforces the idea that the world is a safe place, something children can’t hear or see often enough and thus helps them appreciate life.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays after breakfast, seventy-five Senior Two students and sixty-two Senior Three students spend one hour at the Loreto Primary School. During this time, they advise, teach and play with pupils from Kindergarten to Primary Eight.

This program also helps our students to learn class management skills and student care, and to promote peace education and peace building. As they teach, sing, story tell and play, they get to learn from each other, interact freely and relieve stress.

student mentorshipWe believe that if our pupils learn about peace at a tender age, they will integrate these values in the immediate and wider society and be agents of change.

Senior Two and Senior Three girls have reported their gratitude for the program, explaining how it has made them grow. For some it has made them learn how to manage classes and to understand how to be better students. The learners have also improved in this aspect in their overall class conduct. The girls also learn to love the kids, teaching them the right way of doing things and correcting them with love.

The secondary students have learnt to intervene with understanding and to involve all pupils. For example, they have learnt the importance of asking questions of those who do not raise their hands to answer during lessons. With zeal, more pupils have shown their interest during lessons.

As they say goodbye to their ‘teachers,’ they can’t hide the anticipation and the joy on their faces as they eagerly wait to participate in the next session. Marok is a boy in Primary Five and he says,

“We learn English, Math and songs. We have also learnt Tree of Life, which is of help to explain our lives. The sessions are good for us and we love them. We wish to have more and more sessions of teaching.”

For the past two terms, Senior Two students have been teaching the upper primary school pupils (Primary 5 – Primary 8) about the Tree of Life.

student mentorshipThis is an approach that they recently learnt with guidance and support from Miss Rita (primary school teacher trainer), which helps them to vividly describe their existence using the imagery of a tree.

This is a workshop methodology that can be used to provide psychosocial support to children, because trees are an integral part of community life.

For pupils, they can hear and forget, and they can see and remember, but when they do – they understand. Therefore, after the learning, the pupils drew trees representing their own lives, which helped them to understand, as they were actively involved. Our learners can now describe their lives using the Tree of Life approach.

For the Primary 8 examination candidates, the lessons are also helping them. As they wait to sit for their exams, they have an opportunity to reflect on how their journey has been.

According to Veronica, a Primary 8 student, “I have learnt the importance of the people around me and their roles in my life. I’ve understood how I can help and comfort other people in their hard times. The people who support us encourage us to walk through the journey are of great importance to our lives. I have also learnt about the things I do every day. The knowledge we gain from the teaching of our elder sisters is a gift and we can compare it to fruits in the tree of life.”

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