Primary School English Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The main focus of the Literacy Enrichment Project (LEP) is to teach English to children in the first 3 years of their primary school education. English language learning is a high priority of the South African government to enable students to be successful. Although English is the official language of instruction in the upper grade classrooms in South Africa, teachers in many rural areas must rely upon local language to explain things to students who have limited exposure to English. Class sizes are often large, and teachers have limited time to provide individual support. Volunteers are recruited for their interest in directly teaching English during their service. The Volunteer will be expected to adhere to the curriculum provided by the Department of Education in South Africa: Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for English First Additional Language (FAL). The Volunteer is required to:
• Independently teach English FAL to students aged about 5 – 10 (grades 1-3).
• Tutor extra English FAL to small groups of students, up to grade 7.
• Possibly teach two grades in the same classroom (multi-grade teaching).
• Promote differentiated learning, remedial reading and/or phonemic awareness in the early grades.
• Support school-related activities including the development and promotion of libraries.

Given the complexities of living and working in South Africa, all Volunteers within South Africa receive training in HIV prevention and mitigation. Education Volunteers specifically receive training to address the impact of the epidemic among youth. Beyond an Education Volunteer's commitment to his/her primary assignment of classroom teaching, most Volunteers in South Africa engage in secondary activities that focus on HIV prevention and mitigation with children and youth. Volunteers also receive training on incorporating methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts. Volunteers find culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender awareness and youth empowerment into their work as teachers and through secondary projects. Secondary projects include activities such as coaching or training in sports or after-school English literacy enrichment programs and HIV/AIDS awareness training.

Required Skills

Candidates will have a strong desire to teach English and literacy to young second language speakers and both of the following:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline
AND
• Literacy tutoring or teaching experience with primary or middle school students

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• 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

Peace Corps South Africa prefers that candidates have a minimum of 1 year experience teaching children in a classroom or 2 years teaching or facilitating extracurricular activities. It is advantageous for candidates to have an interest in or have a demonstrated record of volunteerism that reflects a personal commitment to children, youth, and education and learning.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

While English is spoken in most parts of South Africa, it is more limited in rural settings. Additionally, learning the assigned South African language is an integral part of the Volunteers’ success and provides a deeper and more rewarding experience for Volunteers. Language training will be included as a key component of Pre-Service Training. By the end of Pre-Service Training, Trainees are expected to meet the intermediate-high proficiency level. The specific local language learned will be dependent on the community in which you are placed.

Living Conditions

All Volunteers will be assigned to work in rural under-resourced schools. Typically, housing is located in the same community served by the school. It is likely you will live with a family, but have your own dwelling separate from the host family or a room that is attached to the house with its own entrance and exit. Volunteer housing varies considerably in South Africa. While one or two Volunteers may have housing with running water and/or electricity, the majority of Volunteers do not have running water and some may have no access to electricity. Volunteers with access to electricity often experience significant outages for many hours a day or many days in a row. Many Volunteers have access to the internet via smartphones and the cellular network, although the signal can be inconsistent. Volunteers should be willing and able to live in rural and low resourced conditions, and to walk up to 6 miles daily getting to and from work, markets, and community activities.

During the site identification process, Peace Corps evaluates the selected housing, ensuring that it meets the required housing criteria. Criteria include a room outside family compound, adequate water supply within the community, and access to a clean latrine. A comprehensive security assessment of your housing will also be conducted to ensure that it meets the requirements of Peace Corps. Volunteers are placed in communities on the basis of their skills and the needs of the school, not on the basis of their housing preferences. The Department of Education will provide basic furnishing, including a bed, mattress, and dresser or closet. The Peace Corps will provide you with a settling-in allowance that will enable you to purchase sheets, blankets, pots and pans, water storage containers and other household necessities.

Living and working in South Africa means negotiating the disparity between extreme wealth and extreme poverty on an almost daily basis. Volunteers must be prepared to live and work in a "post-conflict" area and to navigate the issues that come with it, including post-trauma stress and challenges and unresolved conflict that will present barriers to day-to-day work. South Africa is an exceedingly diverse country with a complex history that continues to affect the country politically, economically, and socially. Volunteers must be aware of how the complex history affects the day-to-day and consider the stress and challenges of living and working under those conditions.

While South Africa is generally tolerant, values and norms concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in the U.S. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms, and use their judgment to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host country. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

NOTE: Due to government visa requirements, to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Africa, you must submit FBI Background Check documentation. This is in addition to Peace Corps’ legal clearance process. If you have you ever been cited for, arrested, charged with, or convicted of any offense, regardless of whether a citation, charge, arrest, or conviction has been sealed, dismissed, or expunged from your record (excluding minor traffic violations, traffic citations, and parking tickets), you should be aware that your application for a visa to South Africa may be rejected, and you may want to consider serving in a country other than South Africa.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in South Africa: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

South Africa is able to accommodate couples serving together in the same sector. Therefore, your partner must apply and qualify for the following position:

Primary School English Teacher

Couples will live together during Pre-Service Training and the full two years of service. Couples housing will be similar to that of other Volunteers. Couples will either live with a host family or in their own separate building. Housing will be large enough to host two people.

Couples may be asked to work in the same school with different defined roles, or may be placed with different schools that are in close proximity. To gain community acceptance, couples are advised to present themselves as married, regardless of their marital status.

Medical Considerations in South Africa

  • South Africa may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: insulin-dependent diabetes, requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall and Vyvanse.   
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified. 
  • After arrival in South Africa, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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