MMEP: – Developing the skills of teachers

Workshopping with Teachers and the MMEP.

Each year the Midlands Meander Education Project hosts a Teacher’s Workshop. Educators at the 20 schools in which the MMEP works are invited and the event is also open to educators at surrounding schools. The two day workshop was facilitated by the MMEP ‘Bugs’ who each conducted a session demonstrating lesson plans in their subject field. Guest presenters included Bridget Ringdahl from Water Explorers and Julie Hay from Singakwenza.

Siyabonga Majola and Gael Taylor discuss Lisakhanya.

Siyabonga Majola and Gael Taylor discuss Lisakhanya.

Gael Taylor from Lisakhanya, the MMEP gap year programme, started the first day by talking about why Lisakhanya was started. She spoke about employers saying they were looking for ‘that something extra’ but school only prepared learners for passing Matric which did not prepare them for the workplace or give them this necessary extra. Gael and Jo Nwengya, the two leaders at Lisakhanya, realised that this ‘something extra’ was not a particular skill but something about the person that makes them want to achieve the necessary skills and go beyond the what was needed. They started developing a program that encouraged children to think out of the box, to be responsible and to be accountable. The Lisakhanya course mimics the workplace in that students work in groups on projects. Learning through doing is the aim of Lisakhanya. Gael was joined by Siyabonga, who was a graduate of the 2015 class and now acts as a mentor.

Zinhle Msimang presented a discussion on sex education in schools which elicited a vigorous debate about the challenges of this subject and the how to overcome these challenges. The necessity of sex education was acknowledged, particularly given South Africa’s widespread HIV and AIDS infection rate and the teenage pregnancy rate. Zinhle emphasized that the goal of sex education is not necessarily only to prevent HIV and AIDS spreading; rather it is to equip children with knowledge so that they can make their own decisions. The consensus from the teachers present was that they have a responsibility to speak the truth on the subject, regardless of parents’ disapproval.

The teachers take part in the Beanbag Game.

The teachers take part in the Beanbag Game.

After a delicious lunch at the Midmar View Restaurant, Gael Taylor spoke again about leadership and this was followed by presentations by various MMEP facilitators, keeping teachers stimulated for the afternoon. The second day was as enriching as the first with, amongst other activities, Leslé Hall demonstrating her literacy lessons with some of the story games she has developed that use nouns and verbs. Bridget Ringdahl from the Water Explorers program talked about the program, the prizes that schools can win and how schools can get involved. Julie Hay from Singakwenza demonstrated making early childhood development appropriate toys using recycled items.

The MMEP believes in empowering the community through life and learning skills and teaching about the importance of the environment. This approach has seen the MMEP grow its community projects from the Super Bug Club for vulnerable children to Sisonke Now or Never network, Lisakhanya and offer its Teacher’s Workshops.

Thank you to NCT Forestry Co-operative Ltd for funding the workshop.