In Kenya, students learn by rote (rote learning is a memorisation technique based on repetition) and, therefore, do not always have underpinning knowledge. This means that lesson delivery is often less interactive than in the UK. Many teachers are only part-qualified or, in some cases, volunteers themselves. There are allocated breaktimes, although there is a relaxed attitude towards these timings. Students are set by ability, not age, meaning it is not uncommon to be in a class of five-year-olds, for example, but have older children in the lesson.
Because of the heat in Kenya, most PE lessons take place early in the morning or after school. The children are always very excited and enthusiastic when it comes to getting involved with sports – volunteers will not be short of willing participants! Despite the nation’s profound success at long-distance running in recent years, football is Kenya’s first sport, so keen football fans will be right at home in Kenya! Football is a favourite but the children love to experience a variety of sports and our sports coaching programme gives volunteers the flexibility to coach the sports they are most comfortable with.
Teaching volunteers work alongside teachers and other volunteers to help manage the demands of educating large classes of mixed students, aged between 5-16. Volunteers are working in a support role and will not be asked to do anything that they are not comfortable with. Those that are confident will have the option to start helping with lesson delivery and then, ultimately, progress to delivering lessons independently. To support volunteers with preparing for this role, we have a Volunteer Resource Portal which is full of syllabus information, lesson planning tips and interactive session ideas. Our aim is to provide volunteers with the guidance and reassurance they need to effectively carry out the teaching assistance role.
Sports coaching volunteers will generally assist with sporting sessions before and after school, as well as getting involved with PE lessons. Volunteers generally work alongside teachers to deliver games and sessions for the children; the majority of teachers will not specialise in sports coaching, so they will be grateful for support and ideas. Qualifications are not necessary for this role; motivation and a can-do attitude will suffice! Additionally, we have a fantastic set of coaching resources and tips, on our Volunteer Resource Portal, for you to read through before you go to make sure you are well-prepared.
Your volunteering day
- Wake up and meet for breakfast at around 7:30am before being taken to your group’s allocated project at around 8:30am to start work. (We encourage volunteers to take plenty of water as it will be very hot and humid.)
- A typical morning session will involve assisting in the classroom with English and maths. This will involve the use of text books, writing out activities on the chalkboard and engaging students in interactive learning through singing and various activities.
- At around 10:30am, it is likely that classes will stop for morning break where there will be time for the children to have a snack and play games.
- This will be followed by another lesson up until around 12:30pm when lunchtime will commence. Volunteers also break for lunch at this point and are served a delicious, hot meal that is brought to the project by our team. Each project has a feeding programme attached to it, meaning that each student will receive a free lunch. Some projects also provide a mid-morning snack called uji (a thin porridge made from a combination of millet, corn, and sorghum flours). The children’s lunches usually consist of a Kenyan staple called ugali served with a cabbage or bean stew. Often, this is the only food the children will receive all day.
- After lunch, volunteers are encouraged to take learning outside the classroom and get the children participating in PE lessons. Activities may include bean bag racing, co-ordination exercises and counting games. These activities will depend on the resources available so we recommend that volunteers bring sports equipment with them if they have specific sessions planned.
- Afternoon activities finish at around 3:00pm, at which point volunteers are picked up and taken back to their accommodation to relax after a hard day’s work. There may be the chance to visit the market or use the swimming pool during the afternoon.
- Dinner is served at the accommodation at around 7:00pm, following which volunteers can relax with a book, play some games or reflect on their volunteering experience. We also encourage volunteers to practise their Swahili!