Mentor and Support Teacher Assistants in Rural Schools in South Africa

Activity/project background

Partner: A Better Africa (Local NGO)

A Better Africa implements the ‘Spell 2 Read 2 Write’ literacy program and recruits young people to serve as teaching assistants in rural schools in the Northern Cape province in South Africa. These young people are predominantly female between 19 and 35 years old with at least a high school certificate (Grade 12). The teaching assistants implement the remedial literacy program in local primary schools and high schools. As part of their employment, A Better Africa supports the teaching assistants with career guidance and means to develop their own career path.

To support the literacy program’s teaching assistants, A Better Africa is requesting the support of Virtual Service Pilot Participants (VSPPs) to act as mentors for the teaching assistants. VSPPs will provide support to develop the assistants’ skills to plan, deliver, and facilitate techniques to implement the literacy curriculum and provide career guidance to the assistants.

A Better Africa has not previously worked with a Peace Corps Volunteer or a VSPP. The partner understands the different between a VSPP and a two-year Volunteer.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Collaborate with teacher assistants to develop their skills in designing lesson plans and teaching techniques
• Support teacher assistants in developing learning tools and resources to use in the classroom
• Co-mentor teacher assistants, serving as a sounding board for them to identify and address challenges they are facing in their career and provide guidance and ‘life coaching’
• Co-assess the skill level of teacher assistants to inform areas for improvement
• Provide regular progress updates on teacher assistants to the partner organization

This engagement is expected to be approximately 24 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, South African Standard time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Google Meet, MS Teams, WhatsApp, and email for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Bachelor’s degree in education

• 1 year experience teaching
• 1 year experience mentoring and/or providing career guidance to high school students

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: Master’s degree in education, social work, or a related degree

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

• Experience working in areas with high unemployment and poverty
• 1 year of experience with elementary education, teacher training, or related experience

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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