Can you see yourself sitting on the porch of your house—watching the rain fall outside while drinking chai (tea) with your neighbor? Can you see yourself in front of a class of eager children as you present a reading lesson with your counterpart teacher, or working with a group of teachers sharing lessons plans in the teachers’ room? Can you envision walking to the local market to buy beans, corn, and peanuts to make nyoyo and meet a group of young girls in the life skills club you support sign greetings to you in KSL? If the answer is yes, Peace Corps seeks applicants like you who also have the passion, flexibility, and resiliency to support Education for the Deaf (E4D) initiatives in the amazing African country of Kenya.
In Kenyan schools for the Deaf, a high percentage of students are not acquiring basic reading and literacy skills in the early grades. This has been due to limited KSL knowledge by teachers, delayed language acquisition, lack of access to needed teaching and learning materials, and challenges related to securing and identifying effective and appropriate curriculum, teaching, and assessment techniques.
Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) will support teachers to increase knowledge and transfer innovative and effective techniques and methods for teaching reading and early literacy skills, and KSL. Volunteers will work collaboratively with teachers to support students to increase literacy levels and support the development of teaching and learning materials and resources required to provide high-quality literacy instruction. Finally, Volunteers will collaborate with parents and community members to promote E4D and KSL, encourage children’s literacy, and to promote a reading culture within the community. All E4D Volunteers will work in four focus areas:
1. Support building the capacity of teachers in general, literacy, numeracy, KSL, and gender-equitable practices in the classroom
2. Support students’ in strengthening KSL, literacy and/or numeracy skills
3. Support families and caregivers to strengthen support for Deaf students’ access to learning
4. Support students’ and teachers’ to increase access to adapted teaching/learning materials and resources to support E4D
Volunteers may be asked to teach a variety of subjects aside from the one which they were invited to teach. Volunteers will co-teach in the classroom and co-facilitate activities to build capacity among their counterparts and co-teachers. Activities might include the broader community with activities like math competitions, science fairs, camps and clubs, and school improvement projects.
However, more than the skills they bring, the most successful Volunteers in Kenya are patient, flexible, and have a passion for inspiring others.
NOTE: Social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation measures imposed by the Peace Corps, Government of Kenya, and/or host country partners may result in disruption in school activities or school year calendar.
Corporal punishment is illegal in Kenya. While the government has regulations regarding corporal punishment, these rules are not always followed or enforced at the local level. Volunteers may encounter different levels of corporal punishment. Many Volunteers find this challenging, particularly when it is necessary to develop good working relationships with colleagues in the classroom. Peace Corps Kenya encourages open dialogue between Volunteers and their colleagues, and exploring culturally appropriate and acceptable alternatives to corporal punishment. You will receive training and resources on how best to manage situations of corporal punishment in the classroom, using the Safe School curriculum.
Peace Corps Kenya works with local partners to promote gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges and opportunities in Kenya and you will have the opportunity to co-implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of your work, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
- Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education (general or with emphasis on deaf or hard of hearing)
- Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with state certification in special education (general or with emphasis on deaf or hard of hearing)
- Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a minimum of six months experience working with persons with disabilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a minimum of one year of experience working in classrooms or residential homes with persons with disabilities or who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Most successful candidates will have one or more of the following relevant qualifications and qualities:
-A willingness and commitment to learn and use Kenyan Sign Language (KSL)
-Prior teaching experience
-Ability to teach large classes (50+ students)
-Experience designing educational content
-Ability to adapt and use different classroom management techniques
-Familiarity with American Sign Language
-Classroom experience teaching deaf children or youth
-Experience in school and/or community presentations with children, youth, or adult learners
-Interest and/or familiarity with HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention
-Interest or experience working with primary and/or secondary school age children
-Experience with graphic design, T.V. captioning, filming, editing or creativity in developing HIV/AIDS educational materials
-Experience with youth development, particularly life skills development, promotion of healthy lifestyles, camps, youth clubs, scouts, etc.
Candidates should be prepared to cope with cultural differences and engage in discussions for positive change, especially on corporal punishment in schools.
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
All E4D Trainees are offered a comprehensive KSL program during pre-service training (PST). Trainees will also learn Kiswahili or local language appropriate for their site of assignment. They will be required to attain an advanced level score in KSL by the end of PST. Once at site, Volunteers are encouraged to continue their language learning with a Peace Corps identified and trained tutor, paid for by the Peace Corps.
Volunteers will be placed primarily in rural communities of the Lake Region in Western Kenya. Housing is provided by the work partner and can vary from a stand-alone structure in a compound with a family, in staff housing on the school grounds, or a stand-alone house in the community. Housing structures vary from mud houses with metal roofs to concrete houses with glass windows. Volunteers will have a cooking area, private bathing area, and latrine. They may have to fetch water from a village water source, and may or may not have electricity in the house.
Volunteer sites will be within a few hours of a county capital or the regional capital, Kisumu, where the Peace Corps Office is located. County capitals will normally have banks, a variety of shops, markets, local restaurants, and guesthouses. Volunteers will use public buses/mini-vans as a main mode of transportation. Schools are normally close to Volunteer houses. If your main mode of transport for work requires a bicycle, resources for purchasing a bicycle will be provided.
Cell phone coverage for sending and receiving calls may not be completely reliable in all communities, but text messaging is more reliable. It is highly recommended to bring a laptop, as internet is available at both Peace Corps’ Office in Kisumu and through cell phone providers. Please note that Peace Corps cannot accept responsibility if electronics are lost, damaged, or stolen. Volunteers are strongly encouraged to get personal property insurance for them before arrival.
Kenya has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Kenya.html
Kenyans regard dress and appearance as demonstrating respect for one another. As a Volunteer, you are expected to dress appropriately, whether you are in training, traveling, or on the job. Education Volunteers spend much of their time in the classroom, so it is advisable to bring clothing that is comfortable, modest, and professional. Footwear appropriate for considerable standing, walking, and biking is also a necessity.
For women, dresses and skirts should fall below the knee and spaghetti straps are not appropriate unless covered with a sleeved shirt or jacket. Men and women should wear shorts only at home, when exercising, or when doing work where Kenyan counterparts are also wearing them.
Hair should be clean and combed, and beards should be neatly trimmed. Long hair for men, tattoos, and some piercings may not be culturally accepted and may impede community integration, especially throughout your first few months at site. Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos will need strategies to conceal them during service.
Food availability and variety will depend on your site location. The staple food in Kenya is ugali, which is made from maize meal and cooked into soft lumps that are eaten with cooked vegetables, fish, meat, beans, or chicken, typically by hand. Vegetarians should have little trouble maintaining a healthy diet, though vegetarianism is relatively uncommon. A few words of polite explanation usually suffice to be excused from eating meat in any situation.
Due to potential unrest in certain regions of Kenya, Volunteers should expect that travel will initially be limited, the ability to travel extensively within the country is not guaranteed.
Serving in Kenya
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Kenya: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Kenya welcomes couples serving together during service. For any couples to be considered, your partner must qualify for, and be invited to one of the following projects:
- Secondary Education Math Teacher
- Secondary Education Science Teacher
- Deaf Educator
- Community Health Outreach Volunteer
The pre-service training sites for Health and Education Volunteers are in different training villages in close proximity to the main training site. Cross-sector couples should note that they will not be living in the same village during the 11 weeks of pre-service training. Couples also need to be aware that additional, but compulsory trainings such as in-service training may be held at different times. However, they will live together at their permanent site and will work at different host organizations.
Due to Kenya’s expectation that whenever a man and woman live together they are by default married, unmarried couples should be prepared to present themselves as married throughout their service.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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