English Education Teaching
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education strives to provide quality education for students in The Gambia. Currently, the Ministry is giving attention to foundational learning, especially in literacy & numeracy. Peace Corps Volunteers have played a role in supporting the Ministry with this important goal for decades.
Teacher Trainers co-teach, co-plan, co-facilitate and/or guide and co-train with new, often young and newly-qualified, teachers to improve the quality of teaching and learning. They promote student-centered learning, model classroom management techniques, facilitate teacher workshops on strategies for effective literacy and numeracy (also called math literacy) teaching and produce materials for teacher counterparts to use with students. This model of co-teaching is an opportunity for the Volunteers and local teachers to learn from one another while ensuring the sustainability of the Volunteers’ work. A typical class size is around 45 students, and Volunteers mainly work with first-third grade, either in a single school or a complex with multiple schools of different levels. For Volunteers a core activity of this program is working with exciting early literacy and numeracy programs, complementary to the government of The Gambia's initiatives, to enhance literacy and numeracy teaching and to encourage children to read and grow to love math and sciences in earlier grades.
On occasion, Volunteers work with early childhood development (ECD) classes and may run their own classroom/manage their own kindergarten class.
There are limited training opportunities for local teachers in The Gambia after earning their certification. This reality provides Volunteers with a unique opportunity to play a role in supporting more effective and inclusive teaching.
In their role, Volunteers may:
• Support teachers in planning lessons
• Observe teaching and provide feedback
• Co-teach, co-train and give demonstration lessons
• Co-facilitate lessons
• Coordinate discussions among teachers about their work
• Facilitate informal or formal communities of practice to share strategies and tips for effective literacy and numeracy teaching
• Promote the creation and use of educational aids
• Support the development and use of libraries
• Support and deliver teacher training at school, cluster, regional, or national levels
Outside of their primary assignment in schools, Volunteers may also engage in emerging noncommunicable disease (NCD) education and sensitization focused on public health realities predominant in their respective sites, gardening, personal hygiene mitigation strategies through sensitization, trainings, and tree nurseries as part of their secondary projects with schools and or communities.
Volunteers may also have the opportunity to work with early childhood development teacher trainees at the main government teacher training college as guest lecturers. Volunteers will work with training college staff to develop the curriculum for these tailor-made programs.
The Gambia promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in-country and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers will look for ways to work with community members especially the School Management Committees (SMCs) to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
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 a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.
Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-school, Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary Education
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with Elementary Education state certification
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science/ degree in any discipline with 1 or more school year classroom teaching experience at the Early Childhood, Middle School, or Elementary level. Full time Montessori teaching experience is also acceptable
Experience in any of the following areas is preferred:
• Three months of tutoring, volunteer teaching or classroom experience with limited supervision prior to service
• Primary teacher training
• Teaching and/or tutoring experience in English or a foreign language
• Interest/experience in working with young children in both formal and informal educational setting in the areas of Science and Math
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
Teaching in schools is predominantly in English, which is the official language of The Gambia. All Volunteers will be assigned to schools with a national language teaching program, thus support for this language will be provided in-country. There are five major national languages in The Gambia including Wolof, Pulaar, Mandinka, Jola, and Sarahule (Note: The Gambia also has several minor national languages). All Volunteers learn a national language for communicating with their host communities and for travel, shopping, etc.
Most of your students, and even many of the teachers will speak a national language outside of school, so learning the national language will be very important for your integration and work. This will be particularly important when Volunteers are working directly with children during extracurricular activities and tutoring sessions, and with School Management Committee (SMC) members. The national language you will learn will most likely be the national language taught in your school.
Most Volunteers are assigned to remote, rural communities, without electricity, where transportation can be infrequent and unreliable. You will live in simple, private quarters on the property of a host family for your entire service. Houses in rural areas are usually made of mud block and are round with thatched roofs. They are generally situated in or near a family compound which contains several other such houses. You will have a private pit latrine and will likely need to fetch water from the village water source, up to 300 yards away. You may need to walk or bike up to 3 miles to access public transportation and up to 6 miles to a larger town for shopping. All incoming Volunteers are placed in rural environments, so you must be prepared and able to live in these conditions.
There are a few internet cafes in some of the larger towns, but access is slow, patchy and depends on intermittent electricity. There is internet access at the Peace Corps office near the capital, the Peace Corps Training Center in Massembeh, and in the Peace Corps office in the Eastern part of the country. Communication between staff and Volunteers, as well as among Volunteers, is mainly by phone and text (you will receive a simple cell phone for local texting and calling on arrival if you do not bring your own). The Gambia is a small country. Contact between staff and Volunteers is routine and frequent, and this is appreciated by the Volunteer community.
Many vegetarians have managed to maintain a healthy diet here. However, as the supply and range of vegetables in the country is limited, this can present challenges and requires some flexibility. It is very difficult for Volunteers to maintain a vegan diet throughout their service.
Even with the new found democracy that emanated from the 2016 election, The Gambia still 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 the country as a whole. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms available for incoming trainees and Volunteers throughout service.
The influence of colonialism and other countries in The Gambia shapes perceptions Gambians may have of outsiders. Americans may be assumed to be wealthy. Black/African Americans may blend in and initially be seen as Gambians; people may assume that they know local languages and culture. Asian-Americans may be confused as Chinese citizens working in The Gambia. Peace Corps staff are aware of many of the challenges faced by Volunteers and strive to find meaningful ways to support Volunteers to navigate the complexity of living and working in The Gambia.
Serving in The Gambia
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in The Gambia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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