Projects in Tonga
Right now is a pivotal moment to serve in Tonga and Peace Corps Volunteers will have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on students, teachers, and their communities. The country is going through immense educational transformations amongst a renewed global focus on the Pacific and the impacts of the pandemic. The Ministry of Education and Training and Peace Corps have built a strong partnership focused on improving education outcomes. English is a national priority and Peace Corps a close development partner working to increase student achievement.
The English Language Development Project focuses on improving student achievement in English to help them gain access to academic and professional opportunities. Moreover, the project promotes inclusive and equitable education and, through enhancing interactive teaching practices, aims to address the need to develop students into lifelong learners.
As English Language Teachers and Facilitators, Volunteers play multiple roles during their service in English language development:
1) Collaborative Capacity Building with Teachers
Volunteers work with local teachers to increase their capacity in general- and English-teaching skills. Volunteers facilitate discussions and sessions on strategies and tips. They identify best practices and areas for improvements in student-centered teaching methods, lesson planning, assessments, and inclusive education. Supporting these foundations, Volunteers engage in model teaching, mutual peer observations, developing learning materials, and bridging the English language capacity of teachers in the classroom.
2) Improving Student Achievement in English
Volunteers teach oral and written English primarily to elementary-level students in a classroom setting. They organize and facilitate extracurricular activities and events to improve language skills and proficiency via: direct teaching, pull-out groups, tutoring, and extra-curricular classes, events, clubs and camps such as drama, art, sports, reading, and other recreational activities.
3) Learning Environment and Community
Volunteers co-plan and co-facilitate activities that increase the ability of community members to support students’ access to learning. Activities include school fundraisers, contests, event planning, and home visits to involve parents in their children’s education and encourage parents to make time for continual learning.
Volunteers also engage in community development work to mobilize local leaders in the community and address community needs through local resources. Volunteers are trained to utilize participatory tools in a phased approach to cooperative and collective community action. Community activities may include:
1) Facilitating youth camps or clubs on life skills development and leadership
2) Organizing and facilitating school-led improvement projects related to library/learning center development and management
3) Organizing and facilitating community-led projects related to environmental awareness and resilience and disaster risk reduction
Moreover, Volunteers take part in Tongan and American cultural exchange. Cultural understanding and intercultural engagement are key competencies to a successful Peace Corps service and not only enrich the collaboration between the Volunteer and partners but ensure a more sustainable impact.