Secondary Education Math Teacher
Can you see yourself sitting on the porch of your little house—hearing the rain drumming on your tin roof while drinking chai (tea) with your neighbor? Can you see yourself in front of a class of eager children as you present a math 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 IT club you facilitate shout greetings to you in Kiswahili? If the answer is yes, Peace Corps seeks applicants like you who also have the passion, flexibility, and resiliency to support STEM education initiatives in the amazing African country of Kenya.
Peace Corps Volunteers’ work will complement Government of Kenya (GoK) efforts from the grassroots level by addressing secondary school teacher shortages in math/science subjects, supporting ICT integration efforts in education, promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, development of teaching and learning materials, promotion of gender equity and inclusion, and supporting co-curricular activities including career guidance, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, and life skills trainings.
However, more than the skills they bring, the most successful Volunteers in Kenya are patient, flexible, and have a passion for inspiring others. All STEM Volunteers will work in four focus areas:
1. Build teacher capacity through Communities of Practice
2. Increase student skills in STEM through direct classroom teaching
3. Improve community involvement to support school activities
4. Develop materials and increase access to materials/resources to support a STEM approach to math and science
As with all Peace Corps programs, flexibility and a positive attitude will be important for this project. Volunteers may be asked to provide instruction on a variety of subjects aside from the one they have been invited to teach. Volunteers will teach in the classroom and do activities to build capacity among their counterparts and co-teachers. Activities might include the broader community with things like math competitions, math fairs, camps and clubs, and school improvement projects. Along with classroom teaching, many Volunteers are involved with school clubs, sports, youth conferences, and other extracurricular activities. Education Volunteers will integrate HIV/AIDS, malaria, and gender equality work into their teaching and community development activities.
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 will often encounter different levels of corporal punishment. Many Volunteers find this aspect of life very challenging, particularly when it is necessary to develop good working relationships with colleagues. 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 Safe Schools curriculum.
Peace Corps Kenya promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive training on gender challenges in Kenya and you will have the opportunity to 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 Secondary Education with a concentration in math
-Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary certification in math
-Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Math, Engineering, or Computer Science
-Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a minor or equivalent (15 semester/22 quarter hours) in math
Most successful candidates will have one or more of the following relevant qualifications and qualities:
-Prior teaching experience
-Ability to teach large classes (50+ students)
-Experience designing educational content
-Ability to adapt and use different classroom management techniques
-Experience in school and/or community presentations with children, youth or adult learners
-Interest and/or familiarity with HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention
-Must have interest or skills working with primary 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.
While English is one of the official languages of Kenya, most Volunteers find that community integration is enhanced with their ability to hold basic conversations in Kiswahili or one local Kenyan languages used at their sites. Some community members may have intermediate or advanced levels of English, however many may not. As a teacher, you will speak English in the classroom, but Volunteers are most effective when conversing and working in the local language in their communities.
Trainees are offered a comprehensive language immersion program during pre-service training (PST). All Trainees will learn Kiswahili and those that reach a high level of fluency will transition to a more specific local language appropriate for their site of assignment. They will be required to attain an intermediate level score in Kiswahili 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 their 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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