An Update on Zoo-phonics® Teacher Training in Kasese, Uganda

By Bill Carver

Watchmen International Training
Introduction to Zoo-phonics®

A team from the US just completed a two week interaction with WI nursery schools that included visits to four schools (Kenya–Anthony and William’s schools, Uganda–Rukoki and Hamakungu) and an ESL seminar teaching Zoo-phonics to representatives from eleven schools (Kenya–Pauline and Roselyne, Rwantda–Rosemary and Faith, Kilembe–Dinah, Buhuhira–Rose, Kyaka–Racheal, Hamakungu–Pearl, Rwempiche–Resta, Rukoki–Peace, Chrisco–Victoria).

The visits confirmed that last year’s seminar effectively equipped the teachers to begin introducing Zoo-phonics to their students with excellent results. The training last week introduced the ESL curriculum to four schools and brought all the attending teachers to a new proficiency level that allows instruction in the basic alphabet, blends, and word building. One more seminar would equip these eleven school teachers with the training needed to teach their students to read English. Next year we can also introduce the procedures needed to complement reading with writing skills.

Our students will leave the top nursery with true reading skills, not just sight reading. Children will be able to decode and comprehend. This ability will significantly increase their chance of success in P-1.

It will significantly increase the opportunity for graduating nursery school students if we can also train P-1 teachers in schools that offer that grade. We will consider inviting P-1 teachers from Kenya and Rwanda schools in addition to Chrisco and one school from Bavuma next year. Candidates from other schools will be considered. Obviously, as we include these teachers from P-1 in addition to training nursery teachers, we (WI, USA) will have to find the funds for curriculum and seminar expenses. I believe that the Zoo-phonics owners will continue to support the curriculum needs next year and that the US can contribute sufficient funding to pay for seminar expenses.

I believe that properly marketing this instruction to potential families and communities will significantly increase the image of WI nursery schools with the promise of gaining students and influence in the communities being served. A healthy continuation of the ESL training in P-1 will further improve the success of elementary schools by similarly attracting additional students.

Some observations follow:

  • The students truly enjoy this way of learning English.
  • The teachers are adapting quickly to instruction and are effectively teaching the program in schools.
  • The seminar instructional method is working well; teachers are attentive and diligent.
  • Curriculum is relatively inexpensive and complements typical teaching methods in African schools.
  • God is being faithful to encourage our teachers.
  • Nursery schools remain an effective way to meaningfully care for families in WI churches and communities.
  • Opportunity to evangelize students and families abound.
  • Pastors who consistently encourage and monitor progress in their schools demonstrate the best overall results.
  • Teachers with modest education background can master the skills needed to teach Zoo-phonics; attitude, drive, and calling are most important.

It almost goes without saying that the WI teams have made it possible to achieve these gains among WI nursery school teachers. The facilities and personnel in Kasese are excellent and precisely what is needed for future training. The team from the US was blessed by the can-do spirit and hospitality we enjoyed this summer. Thanks to all who contributed to the success of the training visit this year.