We work with teachers to help them deliver more effective lessons. In most Ethiopian classrooms, lessons are very traditional with a teacher lecturing to a crowded classroom from the blackboard. In this environment, it is easy for children, especially those with special educational needs or with little support at home, to fall behind.
Our teacher training projects help to build the capacity of teachers to make their lessons engaging, impactful and inclusive. As part of our Early Years English Literacy programme, we train primary school teachers in the phonics approach – teaching children the sounds of English. Using songs and games to start children sounding out words, the phonics method has a significant impact on their reading age.
Together We Learn works with the education office, local schools and expert partners to create training programmes to meet the needs of local teachers and their students.
We follow research from the government and other NGOs which identify national and regional priorities such as literacy or access for children with disabilities. We partner with experts to either deliver training or to upskill our staff and we collect feedback from participants so we can continually improve what we do.
At Together We Learn, many of our project staff are trained teachers. They are able to draw on their own experience in the classroom when putting together training programmes alongside the support of project partners. New ideas are only successful if the whole school buys into the approach so we often invite school directors and education office representatives so they can support teachers to try new techniques in the classroom.
As well as giving teachers information about, for example, phonics we also model the teaching we want to see, asking teachers to work in small groups, practice new techniques themselves and feed in their own experiences.
Following training sessions, we support teachers by visiting them in the classroom. Our project team are able to see teachers deliver lessons in their own classrooms and provide one-on-one feedback.
We measure the student knowledge at the beginning and end of the year so we can measure the impact of the training. Using this information, combined with feedback from teachers, directors and students, we are able to see if the training has been successful and learn lessons for future training.
Our English literacy project grew out of requests from local teachers and older students for help with their English language skills. Though English is a second or third language for children, it becomes the language of instruction from secondary school. This means that students who struggle with English are more likely to fail their final exams. Teachers too often have very basic English skills and children rarely speak English outside of the classroom. When testing grade one and two children, we find most cannot read simple words such as ‘sun’, ‘at’ or ‘day’.
Our longest-running teacher training programme has been upskilling teachers in phonics to increase English literacy. Our vision is that all students in the region and the country will learn to read English using phonics, which is proven to get them reading faster, and will start their full-time English education at secondary school equipped with the skills they need.
“We have learnt English for the last 13 years but it is Jolly phonics that made us learn English better.”
Mesere, Trainee teacher
Pupils’ reading age improved by 9 months after a year of classes with a teacher trained in phonics.
English Literacy for Ethiopian Students
Our longest-running teacher training programme has been upskilling teachers in phonics to increase English literacy. We are currently working on our Jolly Phonics project in partnership with the Education Bureaus in two regions.
Fenta is a teacher at Kebele 02 school in Gondar and now teaches English using phonics.
“I studied English for more than 12 years. In addition, I taught for 21 years, however, I was not good at teaching English effectively. The Jolly Phonics training helped me learn the sounds of English and teach my children in a better way.“
Can You Help?
You can help us provide training for more teachers:
- £10 buys a classroom educational poster set
- £40 buys a full set of teacher resources, including classroom books
- £140 funds training for two key teachers within a school