Uganda (MNN) — There’s an old proverb that says, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for the rest of his life.”
The philosophy is part of how Every Child Ministries hopes to transform communities out of poverty through education and the Gospel. But to get there, they have to look at their recipe for success. The single most important ingredient in creating an effective school system is the quality of teachers.
Armed with the right tools, teachers can do a lot. However, Mark Luckey with Every Child Ministries says in some of the countries where they work, “Those tools are simply not available. Their tool bag has simply not been filled with tools, so they kind of go into [the job] wondering, ‘How do I do this?’”
Even if the schools had a fully-equipped classroom, it’s more effective to have a good quality teacher holding class under a mango tree than to have a poor quality teacher in a state-of-the art facility.
Specifically in rural areas where ECM has projects in both Ghana and Uganda, Luckey explains, many primary schools have to make do with under-unqualified teachers who have less than two years of training. What’s more, the Uganda Economic Policy Research Center found that among those with two years’ training, they hadn’t mastered the subjects they were to teach.
Luckey clarifies, “They just simply repeat whatever their teacher did for them, which is usually a lot of rote memorization. We looked at that and said, ‘I wonder if there is a way that we could help them?’ because our ultimate goal is to have good education taking place.”
He says the ECM team wondered, “What if we help train some of the teachers?” They launched a pilot project in Ghana first, exploring the concepts of learning and teaching. “We started doing regular intervention with the teachers, helping them in the classroom, doing workshops for them.” Luckey believes a well-trained and motivated teacher changes everything in education, like “how to teach lessons in ways that actually communicates well, the idea that you’re trying to present.”
ECM started bringing in teachers from the U.S. “who would come for maybe 5-7 days of training and follow up, and they would give intensive training to the teachers there.”
The program started at Haven of Hope Academy. The school offers quality Christian education Nursery through Junior High School (U.S. equivalent of 9th grade). HHA aims to help the next generation in Ghana prepare for the future through academic, skills, and character development.
In Uganda, the Afayo Project uses village schools as an avenue for reaching out to communities with the love of Jesus. Through the school, the ministry can reach out not only to the teachers and students, but also to the church, the parents, the orphans, village leadership, and ultimately the entire community.
In the end, says Luckey, “Christian education in any school is a complete integration of your faith as a teacher into the way that you present your lessons. The integration of the Gospel is: God touches all aspects of what we’re teaching.” By helping teachers to grow professionally and in their ability to apply their faith to their teaching, ECM significantly improves the chance that children will hear the Gospel as they also succeed academically.
Another team is forming now for a trip in the summer. Luckey concludes, “We’re just praying that teachers would hear this message and would open their hearts and want to be part of a trip like that.”