On December 2015, Tully watched ten of her students from Siyamthanda nursery graduate as they completed their time at her Early Childhood Development (ECD) nursery and progressed onto schooling. The graduation was held on Saturday 5th December when friends, family, and colleagues gathered to celebrate an incredible achievement. For Head Teacher Tully, this also marked the start of a new road, helping these children graduating shows the success of her new skillset and knowledge that she’s learnt through the 6-week Mhani Gingi Teacher Training Programme, which she completed at the end of September 2015.
The unemployment rate across South Africa, according to Trading Economics, reached 25.5% in December 2015. This high unemployment rate made the opening of an ECD nursery for self-employment an attractive and important option for women living in the impoverished township communities. The Afri-CAN Charity (ACC) Programme Director, Camille Paterson, quickly realized that the majority of these women did not have the required training and experience in early childhood development that would enable them to create a caring, strong, and successful learning environment to promote optimum child development. It was then that the Afri-CAN Charity identified a need for a Teacher Training Programme as a way to tackle the issue.
The Afri-CAN Charity collaborated with Mhani Gingi to provide a series of 6-week Teacher Training workshops containing 6 different modules where teachers were able to learn new techniques to better educate the children. Workshop Series 1 aimed to enrich and enhance the skills and knowledge of the teachers currently running the ECD nurseries in the Township of Philippi, Crossroads and Khayelitscha. The Afri-CAN Charity believes that the teachers participation in the Teacher Training Programme will have a strong and positive impact on the children aging from 3 months to 6 years old, and their early development. These years are critical for learning, making the impact not just a short-term benefit, but a long-lasting one that these children will carry through to adulthood.
During the Afri-CAN Charity Teacher Training Programme, Tully covered a range of different modules starting from daily planning, weekly preparation, and self-development, to the identification of recycled resources that could be used as educational toys in lessons. Before Tully started the programme, her classes had little structure, limited variety in teaching the Afri-CAN Teacher Training Programme, she now has confidence, skills, and knowledge on how to plan her lessons, resulting in her starting each day with a structured and focused lesson plan for the children to enjoy preparing them to succeed at school. Tully has also begun effectively using the resources around her by recycling materials such as cardboard and wood and incorporating them into her teaching methods. By showing teachers how to make educational toys through up cycling (using materials they find around them), the Afri-CAN Charity believes teachers and principals will be able to affordably make classroom materials by hand.
Completing the programme provided Tully with the chance to become a better-equipped teacher of underprivileged populations. Tully will now progress to the second series of the Afri-CAN Charity Teacher Training Programme, which will involve covering modules such as budgeting and financing Early Childhood Development. Joan Wright, the instructor of the programme, described Tully after the celebration at the graduation took place:
“ Tully has completed Workshop Series 1 feeling inspired and empowered. She really sees the importance of working everyday with these children to make every moment count. She is a lot more creative in her approach and the tools she can access around her so that she can then use them to teach the children. For her graduation she created a red carpet using old scraps of cardboard stapled together. Tully in the future wants to provide a place in which children feel like they can escape, be who they want to be, and don’t have to be a victim of their circumstances.”
The Afri-CAN Charity plans to continue running the Workshop Series 1 this year for teachers that were unable to complete the 6 sessions and for teachers from new ECD’s that have recently joined the Afri CAN Charity Teacher Training Programme. The ACC believes that through providing the Teacher Training Programme and a series of workshops covering essential teaching methods, this will not only have a positive impact on the teachers but also on the children in the prime ages of learning before they begin their education.