[two_third]When Christine, a teacher at Gasabo Primary, went to work each morning she left her five-year-old daughter home alone.
During the day, Christine worried about her daughter and the other children who wandered aimlessly around the community while their siblings went to school and their parents were in the field or at work.
Christine began envisioning a pre-primary program to provide childcare for these children.
With no available government funding, she summoned the parents and asked them to contribute funds to hire a part-time caretaker for the children. The parents agreed and hired a woman to care for the children in an empty room at the school.
They soon realized their efforts would be more worthwhile if their children could gain skills and knowledge to prepare them for P.1.
Juvenal, a retired primary teacher, was the perfect candidate. He offered to teach as a volunteer, but the parents insisted on paying him a modest weekly stipend.
“I was sitting at home doing nothing,” says Juvenal. “It’s good for me if I can help the children from my society and community.”
In 2013, our quality education trainers began working at Gasabo Primary. Rachel, our Education Sector Project Manager, realized Juvenal was not trained to teach nursery aged children. His methods were too advanced for young children to grasp and he struggled to manage their behavior.
Nonetheless, Rachel could see his potential and was devoted to training him.
“Education is crucial at that early age. If you have the opportunity to teach the small ones, there’s no point in waiting until they’re grown to teach them values and skills. When you teach a child, they will form good habits early on,” explains Rachel.
Rachel and the trainers used a proactive approach as she helped train Juvenal in teaching nursery-aged children.
Through Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), our trainers equipped parents to support their children at home and at school. Parents have donated money for classroom materials and floor mats for story time, while others brought porridge to feed the children and wood and water to prepare the food.
Initially, Juvenal was skeptical about the training and didn’t believe young children could sit still for more than a minute, let alone learn. However, his teaching methods immediately began to reflect the training he was receiving. He was implementing values, using teaching aids and encouraging active participation in his lessons. Students became more engaged and attentive.
“Now the class and I are also going to change. We have seen that with the training it is possible to have a great classroom.”
Today, more than 20 pre-primary aged students sit attentively on their reading mat, huddled around Juvenal. He asks what unity means to each child. Many hands shoot into the air and Juvenal calls on a female student.
“My mom told me that we’re all made the same. I might look like my dad and you may look like your mom or your sister, but inside we’re all the same,” she answered in Kinyarwanda, proving that deep learning starts at a young age.
“Education is crucial at that early age. If you have the opportunity to teach the small ones… they will form good habits early on.”