Secondary Education Science Teacher

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Peace Corps in Sierra Leone has a rich history and a strong legacy serving the people of Sierra Leone. The program began in January 1962 as one of the first countries entered after Peace Corps' launch in March 1961 so it is a well-known and welcomed agency by generations of Sierra Leoneans. The first group of Volunteers included 37 secondary school teachers who taught at many levels throughout the country and you will follow in their footsteps.

The education project in Sierra Leone aims to prepare students, teachers and community youth to become empowered and engaged citizens. The goals of the project are:
1. Increase student success by improving student proficiency, academic success, and participation in math, science, English and life skills classes or extracurricular activities.
2. Promote student-centered teaching and administration, where teachers and administrators will develop positive learning environments by improving teaching and administration techniques respectful of gender equitable practices.
3. Prepare youth, especially girls, with skills for their adult life as healthy, productive, and active community members.

The teaching approach in Sierra Leone is mostly lecture based, call and response, and rote memorization. This is where our Volunteers come in. Peace Corps/Sierra Leone will train you to move science teaching towards a student centered model, where instead of a teacher writing on a blackboard while the students take notes, Volunteers: promote engaging the students through small group activities and the development of study and critical thinking skills; and empower youth with skills to establish goals, make positive decisions, and be active leaders.

Volunteers model high-quality instruction to build communication and critical thinking skills. Volunteers reinforce learner-centered approaches and safe school practices so that teachers, administrators, and community supporters are investing in positive learning environments.

Volunteers provide formal instruction in schools with grades similar to US grades 7-10. Volunteer classrooms are very basic and contain few resources. Most schools have no science lab or equipment. This provides a lot of room for creativity and how you go about teaching - integrated science, biology, chemistry, and physics. With a large class size you will work alongside your fellow Sierra Leonean science teachers to:
• improve basic science knowledge
• infuse literacy across content
• work on real life application of scientific principles
• prepare students for national/international tests
• enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills

Outside of the classroom Volunteers are empowered to run afterschool programs working with their students in math, science, and English but also in activities that your students need and want. Your free time will be spent forming bonds with your community members and drinking plenty of tea but also working on community projects such as;
• gardening and nutrition
• youth empowerment camps
• anti-malarial and health education

Sierra Leone promotes gender awareness, girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers receive training on gender challenges in country and have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As a part of their work, Volunteers also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in any science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary certification in science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Engineering
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any physical science or any biological science or equivalent
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a minor or equivalent (15 semester/22 quarter hours) in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics

Desired Skills

Additionally, Sierra Leone strongly prefers its Volunteers have one or more of the following qualifications:
• Teaching experience
• Degree or minor in education
• Ability to re-imagine local resources to provide high-quality instruction, tutoring, and extracurricular activities
• Experience working in after-school programs, camps, or mentoring programs
• Experience coaching peers and/or coworkers for improved performance

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Sierra Leone is an English speaking country. However, Volunteers will learn Krio, a dialect similar to English, to ensure safe and productive work throughout the community and travel. Volunteers may also learn a traditional local language to improve collaboration and integration in their community.

Living Conditions

HOUSING: During service, Volunteers live in, at least, two rooms and a parlor with an individual outdoor or indoor bathroom. Houses should be located within the neighborhood and at most a 15 minute walk to a potable water source. Some houses may not have electricity and running water is not available in many settings. Some communities may have access to generators that can provide electricity/battery recharges, but it is not standard.

COMMUNICATION: Almost all calls are made by cell phone. Peace Corps will provide you with a phone during the first few days of pre-service training for use throughout service. Volunteers are on a “Family Plan” which allows them to call staff and other Volunteers at no charge. Other calls are based on the amount of minutes used/texts sent similar to a data plan and are deducted immediately. Incoming calls and texts, even from the US, are free. Please be aware that communication options are very limited in Sierra Leone; where Internet access and email is not widely available texting is more common. The cell phone network or signal in Sierra Leone is weak and spotty in many areas. However, all of the Volunteers’ sites will have network coverage within their community or walking distance.

Peace Corps receives mail from the main post office and periodically disseminates them to Volunteers based on an established calendar. Note that mail is slow to reach Sierra Leone and takes time. Most Volunteers will not have mail access in their communities. Please be aware and inform friends and family that communication options are much more limited than in the States.

TRANSPORTATION: Peace Corps provides a bike to assist daily routines, such as biking to nearby markets or visiting sites around one’s village. Even though access to public transportation is one of our site identification requirements, Volunteer access and frequency to transportation varies from daily to once a week for a market.

FOOD: Prices may vary and can be relatively expensive due to seasonality and the cost of importing some goods. In Sierra Leone, rice is the staple food. Other food items include: eggs and fish, which are more affordable sources of protein, while meats such as beef, goat, or chicken are more expensive. Plantains, cassava, yam, potato, beans as well as a variety of vegetables like onions, potato and cassava leaves, peppers, eggplant, okra, cabbage, tomato, cucumber and carrots are also available. Peanuts and sesame seed cakes are popular protein rich snacks. If meat or fish is not available, peanuts are used as a source of protein. Often times, cooked dishes will have a fish base in them. Based on the available foods, vegetarians find ways to balance a diet. However, strict vegetarians and vegans will be challenged, especially while living with the host family during pre-service training.

Sierra Leone is graced with wonderful, though seasonal, fruits such as pineapples, bananas, papaya, coconuts, avocado, orange, watermelon and mangoes. You will do your shopping at the local market, but some items might have to be purchased at a larger town nearby.

HEALTH: The health, safety and security of Volunteers are Peace Corps' top priority. Once in Sierra Leone, Volunteers will be trained on awareness and prevention activities such as handwashing and hygienic practices. If health, safety and security issues arise you will have support from our Peace Corps Medical Officer and Safety & Security Manager respectively.

SOCIAL CLIMATE: While Sierra Leone is generally tolerant, values and mores 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 countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Sierra Leone: 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

Peace Corps Sierra Leone values the contribution that couples make to the overall program. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Sierra Leone:

-Community Health Promoter
-Secondary Education English Teacher

Couples will be placed in the same host family for pre-service training and in the same home during their service. However, due to our pre-service training schedule, couples working in different sectors will be separated for technical training sessions.

Medical Considerations

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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