Student Friendly Schools Workshop
The Student Friendly Schools (SFS) working group is a Peace Corps initiative made up of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and Host Country Nationals (HCNs) working together to promote effective learner support methodology by raising awareness and encouraging practices that promote inclusive learning, create safe schools and classrooms, and support all learners, including Children in Need of Protection. With support from various ministries and experts in the field, the working group aims to host the SFS Inclusive Learning Workshop to provide resources and help guide the conversation about inclusive learning practices in Namibia. The workshop’s curriculum was designed with support from an advisory board of experts and in conjunction with the policies and practices of the Ministry of Education Arts and Culture (MoEAC), ensuring the material meets the present needs of Namibia and helps support the current initiatives of MoEAC. Throughout the workshop, participants from across the country will be instructed by experts in the field and will be provided with in-class and out-of-class learner support strategies and receive practical training on how to best implement these strategies in their communities and schools. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants will have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to promote the curriculum within their own communities.
For proper implementation of the SFS Inclusive Learning Workshop, partnerships have been developed with a variety of experts in the field who will be instrumental in the implementation of the workshop. Experts have been identified in a variety of fields – Ministry of General Equality and Child Welfare, early childhood development and health professions, law enforcement and human resources, etc. These experts will present on a variety of topics including supporting Children in Need of Protection, ethical and legal responsibilities of educators, child development, intrinsic and extrinsic barriers to learning, and creating safe, healthy, and positive school environment. Some experts will serve as lead presenters and will be responsible for content presentation while others will serve on panels and as resources during resource fairs. The goal is to bring together a wide variety of support networks to demonstrate the ways we must work together to support the Namibian child. The goal is for the Peace Corps Volunteers to act as the hosts and organizers of the workshop and partner with the local experts to develop and present the curriculum, encouraging our Namibian counterparts within SFS and experts to be solely responsible for the workshop instruction. An advisory board has been assembled to help with curriculum development, and in the months leading up to the workshop, these advisers will help edit and further enrich the curriculum. Several advisory board members and additional experts will serve as facilitators for the workshop. In the month proceeding the workshop, a facilitators workshop will be hosted to prepare for the workshop and ensure a smooth delivery and accuracy of the information being presented. The workshop will include opportunities to provide feedback from participants and experts to help further improve and develop the workshop.
This workshop will be the second SFS Inclusive Learning Workshop. The workshop has two different aims: (1) to provide effective instruction to the school-based participants (teachers, Heads of Department, principals, etc.) and (2) to encourage MoEAC regional officers to host similar workshops and short trainings in their regions. The goal of the workshop and of SFS as a working group is not focused on a single community or organization but rather to reach the school system as a whole. Namibian school-based participants will attend the workshop from all 14 regions of the country, each participant selected through an application process and upon suggestion of their MoEAC regional officers. It is our goal that this workshop will directly impact the educators invited and their schools, and to further support this aim, one participant from each invited school must be a principal or Head of Department (HOD) to aid in the implementation of inclusive learning practices in their respective schools. Additionally, the workshop is designed to encourage MoEAC officers to start implementing similar training within their regions. MoEAC participants will be presented with the Inclusive Learning Manual and curriculum materials. It is our goal that at least half of the MoEAC participants will host a similar workshop. To further support sustainability, the workshop is being supported by local Namibian SFS members and a variety of HCN experts in their fields – health professions, law enforcement officers, the Ministry of General Equality and Child Welfare, etc. Between May 2019 and the current time, the number of Namibians participating in the working group has increased from 1 to 6 and an advisory committee comprised of 8 HCN professionals in the area of inclusive learning has been formed. The role of the advisory committee is to help develop and review curriculum material to make sure it aligns with mission of MoEAC and is presented in a cultural appropriate way. In addition to the SFS and advisory board members, experts in the field who will be responsible for the presentation of material. Their involvement and contributions will be instrumental in the implementation and success of the workshop.