SETting a Productive Pace through Covid-19
The impact of the Covid-19 virus on Togo’s education system has paralleled Canada’s. In Togo all schools shut down in early March. Students will return to the classroom on October 26 provided the virus has no second wave. In June the Togolese government lifted curfews on the two largest cities and allowed people to travel between the five regions of the country.
Jean-Paul Mlope, SET’s pedagogical mentor, has been using the shut-down to SET up for the reopening of the CP1 (grade one) classrooms of SET’s Pilot Project. Because of this commitment to children ‘s SET education, SET donors are changing Togo’s future.
Beginning on May 25, 2020 the grade one teachers met virtually every week for eight weeks to review eight topics related to learning to read. Despite a lack of computers, most Togolese have phones with WhatsApp. Meeting together virtually, the nine teachers in the SET pilot project worked tirelessly with Jean-Paul on creating a guide to teaching reading in the primary grades. A first for this group eager to give their best for their young pupils’ success.
In creating this guide, teachers applied teaching concepts and techniques learned in past SET workshops. Truly a hands-on review of learning as well as a discovery of new learning as the teachers responded to weekly topics posted by Jean-Paul.
One topic was ‘How to develop the child’s awareness of syllables.’ After each teacher completed their own research into the subject and posted their work, the group discussed everybody’s responses. Jean-Paul then summarized and posted that discussion so the teachers could review it for accuracy. The final summary became one section of the teachers’ guide.
Along with the pages the children see, the guide walks teachers through the techniques for instruction. For example, on the topic of ‘How to develop listening in a child’ the teachers are guided to have small groups of their students clap out two-syllable words. The children work with one syllable and three syllable words clapping both individually and in a group. The result of such teaching is that children listen much more carefully to the components making up a whole word.
With this guide to teaching reading, future SET CP1 teachers will be able to use the methods under direction of both Jean-Paul and the pilot project teachers. Such mentorship ensures continuing progress within the SET staff’s understanding of the steps in teaching reading.
Light years away from the rote methods of learning teachers have been using for so long.
Hopes around the outcome of this well-researched and sound method of teaching reading focus on preparing little people for their educational future. As they progress within the Togolese educational system, they have a base that will improve the outcomes of their learning and lives.