Primary Teacher Trainer

The Peace Corps continues to monitor and assess the COVID-19 pandemic domestically and internationally. The locations and timing of returning Volunteers to service will be determined on a country-by-country basis. The positions and projected departure dates listed below are subject to change.

Project Description

Greetings from The Gambia, the “smiling coast of Africa”!

Primary Teacher Trainers co-teach with teachers to co-develop and implement promising practices that support student-centered learning, modeling classroom management techniques, facilitating teacher workshops on strategies for effective literacy and numeracy teaching and producing educational materials.

This model of co-teaching is an opportunity for the Volunteers and local teachers to learn from one another while ensuring cultural appropriateness and sustainability of the work.

Volunteers partner with local teachers to facilitate informal or formal communities of practice and to share strategies and tips for effective literacy and numeracy teaching skills. A typical class size is around 45 students, mainly grades 1 through 3, either in a single school or a school with different levels in one complex.

This is an opportunity for Volunteers to participate in and learn about the Government of The Gambia's initiative 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 classes and run their own classroom or manage their own kindergarten class. 

Many teachers in The Gambia do not receive adequate regular in-service training after earning their certification, which provides Volunteers with a unique opportunity to play a vital role in supporting more effective and inclusive teaching.

With the support of counterparts, Volunteers may:  
• Collaborate with teachers to develop lesson plans
• Observe teaching and learn how to provide feedback in culturally appropriate ways
• Co-teach and give demonstrations lessons
• Collaborate with teachers to hold peer discussions about work-related issues
• Co-facilitate informal and formal communities of practice to share strategies and tips for effective literacy and numeracy teaching
• Collaborate with teachers to explore the creation and use of educational aids
• Support the development and use of libraries
• Support and deliver teacher training at local, regional, or national levels

Outside of their primary assignment in schools, Volunteers are encouraged to participate in community-based activities that support English learning and engagement in Science and Math activities as well as organize clubs, sports, and other after-school activities. As part of their secondary projects, Volunteers may also contribute to community-based efforts related to malaria prevention, gardening, and tree nurseries.

Volunteers may also have the opportunity to work with teacher trainees at the only government teacher training college. The college has tailored guest series programs in which trainees receive direct instruction from their lecturers. Volunteers will work with relevant department staff to develop the curriculum for such tailor made programs.

Peace Corps in 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 learn how to develop and implement context appropriate strategies and gender-related activities. During service, Volunteers will look for opportunities to support the work of community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. Volunteers will also report on these collaborative 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.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have a strong desire to teach English, interest or experience in working with young children in both formal and informal education settings, and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
OR
• 5 years' professional work experience

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.

The following experience is also desired:
• Primary teacher training
• Teaching and/or tutoring experience in English or a foreign language
• Interest or 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. All Volunteers learn a local language to facilitate their integration into the community which impacts issues related to relationship-building, safety and security, and conducting regular activities such as buying food and using public transportation.

Most of your students, and even many of the teachers, will speak a local language outside of school, so learning the local language will be very important for your integration and work. This will be particularly important when Volunteers are working directly with children through extra-circular activities and tutorials. The local language you will learn will most likely be the national language taught in your school.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers are assigned to remote, rural communities, without electricity, where transportation can be infrequent and unreliable. Volunteers typically live in simple, private quarters on the property of a host family for their 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. Volunteers 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 unreliable electricity. There is internet access at the Peace Corps office near the capital, the Peace Corps Training Center in Massembeh, and in the transit houses on either side 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.

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 persist with a vegan diet throughout their service.

The Gambia is a small country. Contact between Staff and Volunteers is high and this is generally appreciated by the Volunteer community.

The Gambia 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 will address this topic during Pre-Service Training, and identify support mechanisms available for incoming Trainees and Volunteers throughout service.

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.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.


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