Vincencia Nyaminde, is a teacher at a Bridge International Academies primary school in Kenya. She teaches children in their last year of primary school, and uses an e-reader with detailed lesson guides to help her prepare and deliver classes. This is her story of how she is bringing high quality learning to some of the poorest children in sub-Saharan Africa, a region of the world where 9 out of 10 children reach the end of primary school age unable to read or do basic maths.
They say that doing what you like is freedom while liking what you do is happiness, an adage that tells my story since joining Bridge.
After I graduated from the government’s teacher training college in 2017, I joined a low cost private school within my local community, and things were a bit challenging. There were too many pupils in the class and no materials. From payment to teacher motivation, there were difficulties and teachers often missed school.
I wanted to join Bridge International Academies, an institution with a strong organizational culture where those in the school feel more like a family. The bond at Bridge and the feeling of being appreciated is comparable to none. And they have tackled the challenges of class sizes, learner materials and training, issues which are important to address in Kenya. So, because you are not worrying about everything else you have a culture where teachers and pupils take responsibility for learning. And, you know that you are teaching pupils important values about life, not just academics.
My move to Bridge was not in vain, I handled the class eight pupils, the most senior group at the primary school level. It was a duty I took with zeal and my efforts were rewarded through children like Vanessa Mueni who was the best female candidate among all Bridge schools in the 2017 KCPE and who went on to a prestigious national secondary school.
Success can be measured not only by the excellent marks that students like Vanessa Mueni are earning, but by changes in their persons and joy in learning. I have seen pupils who are shy with low self-esteem wanting to answer with a smile on their faces. At my school, creating this culture is important in the same way academics is important.
How can we do both when there is so much to do - teacher guides. They simplify my work so, I have enough room to support children in their areas of struggle. This means that I can offer remedial classes to slow learners to ensure they keep up with the fast learners. With Bridge's method of teaching I have been able to get a deeper understanding of my pupils' abilities. My day in Bridge has never gone to waste. I see growth in my pupils as the days go by. I have seen pupils who are shy and with low self-esteem wanting to answer with a smile on their faces. And I get some lessons myself to improve my teaching from teachers with more experience.
It is always fulfilling when learners perform well in school but most importantly to see pupils, whose childhood dreams were almost reduced to hallucinations, believing in their dreams once more. This is the power of school culture to help me as a teacher and my students for learning and success in Kenya.