Mercy Mulenga, one of Our Moon’s current Young Leaders, talks about her experiences at the start of tutoring some of the young children of our workers who don’t go to school
There is nothing as exciting as seeing your students comprehending your teachings – this makes you feel you are a good teacher. The converse is also true, however: it is heartbreaking when your student is having a difficult time understanding what you are trying to communicate.
Today marks the third day of tutoring the kids in the Our Moon Education community. My fellow-students and I have been teaching children above the age of five and, during these three days, we have observed the myriad performances of the children both in class and extracurricular activities. Today, I was paired with Ernest, an eleven year old boy whom I have been told has never been to school. I have discovered that he perceives things up-side down hence it is hard to teach him.
I drew a cup and pot for him to copy; while he did copy the utensils, he drew them facing in the opposite direction. This makes it hard for him to learn with his friends because they laugh at him when they see him doing his work wrongly.
To help him, we are working with him individually. We have started from the basics because he neither knows any number nor letters. He can count up to five but cannot identify the numbers when they are written. He is having a class separate from everyone.
Another challenge we face is language. Most of the children do not speak or understand English. A bigger problem for the children is that the local school only teaches in one language, Lenje. Hence, the reason their parents don’t send them to school here. Zambia has 72 tribes, each with different languages. We want them to learn English as a common language and because we think it will help them in the future. But, it is hard to teach them. Our answer is to teach them in both English and their local languages. This means that I am also learning Lenje, a new language to me!
We are fortunate that Nova Pioneer School has made available online carefully prepared and graded resources for use by students, teachers and parents around the world during this period of school closure because of the virus. They have not only provided good lesson plans for us to use but have also broadened our minds to become more creative and imaginative in the manner we tutor the children in literacy, numeracy and etiquette. The materials are also helping us to refine the children’s individual creative abilities.
With the one on one lessons, we believe the children will start to thrive despite our current communication barrier. Seeing the children progressing makes my heart leap with joy; Ernest is able to trace, colour and write the number ‘1’ on his own. We both feel ecstatic!