Teachers like Jean are Transforming Education

With the Christmas season upon us, I want to, first of all, thank you for taking the time to read my letter to you. I know the holidays are busy and I’m grateful that you’re taking a few minutes to read this unexpectedly inspiring story. 

To say that COVID-19’s impact in the majority world is devastating would be an understatement. You’ve likely read that decades of progress on poverty, healthcare, and education has been undone. 

The ripple effect of COVID-19 school closures has also sent shockwaves through communities. Globally, UNICEF found school closures leads to increases in early marriage, recruitment of children into militias, sexual exploitation of girls and young women, teenage pregnancy, and child labour.  

The reality is truly dire. The need for help is more urgent than ever before. But even in the midst of immense difficulty, there is hope. I have witnessed in teachers like Jean De Dieu Niyensenga the glimmer of resilience that helps whole communities overcome challenges.

Jean De Dieu Niyensenga is a glimmer of resilience.

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2021/12/31 23:57:57

Jean loves teaching and reaching his students with the life-changing impact of education. He also loves serving as a teacher mentor, sharing training materials with his colleagues, and working with local parents in his community. 

But the closure of schools in Rwanda due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown stopped him in his tracks. Almost everything he did to transform his community involved face-to-face contact. Teaching, equipping and empowering, up to that point, was an in-person game. 

And while no one would invite the closure of schools, necessity breeds ingenuity. Jean De Dieu Niyensenga got to work. 

Jean had received a series of workbooks from Wellspring about teaching, acting as a peer mentor for other teachers, and guiding parents in support of their children’s education during the pandemic. Conveniently, Jean also had a phone, internet access, and a decent grasp of how YouTube worked. 

Using his YouTube channel as a platform, Jean created videos based on the key lessons in Wellspring’s workbook. His videos started to reach those in his community and beyond.   

Wellspring showed me that it is possible. By using what I had, I started shooting videos using my phone and uploading them on YouTube. I shared the lessons on our school social groups and encouraged teachers to share the information with the wider community, especially the parents of our children,” shares Jean.

By using the skills and resources Jean had identified through Wellspring’s training, he developed a creative and local solution to foster connection and learning in and beyond his own community. 

Perhaps more important than the practical tips he delivered in his videos was the tangible hope he offered to parents during at-home learning. One parent shared that “I did not know that as a parent I can sit with my child and ask what they have learnt from the television lesson or radio lesson…I can see now what part I play in my child’s learning at home.” 

Because of Jean, teachers, parents, leaders, and ultimately students, stayed engaged in learning. Parents were encouraged to continue valuing education. Communities were strengthened. While the devastating realities of COVID-19 ravage communities, teachers like Jean continue to invest in their nation’s future with the tools they have at their disposal.

Because of supporters like you, Jean was able to reach entire communities with the tools and skills they needed to keep teaching and learning during lockdown.

This Christmas, will you consider a financial gift to keep alive the spark of resilience for teachers like Jean? Together, we can ensure that more educators and school communities have what they need to make it through one of the worst crises of our generation. This year, our programming has outpaced our resources and we urgently need your financial support. Your gift this Christmas will help immensely.

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Wellspring is registered as a charitable organization in Canada (#88633 4408 RR0001). Tax receipts are issued at year-end for donations of $20 or more. 

Financial Policy: All monies receipted by The Wellspring Foundation for Education are disbursed according to the policies of the society for the general charitable intent of the organization.