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Science and Environment Educator

Project description

Known as the Land of Many Waters, Guyana has a diverse culture and is rich in biodiversity.

Peace Corps Guyana’s Environment project aligns with the Government of Guyana’s commitment to providing a better quality of life for all Guyanese derived from the country’s natural wealth – its diversity of people and abundant natural resources including land, water, forests, mineral and aggregates, and biodiversity. Science and Environment Educators serve primarily as general science teachers, introducing and infusing environmental education and awareness into their teaching and in their work with both students and community members in their out-of-school hours.

Science and Environment Educators live and work in villages and towns along the coast, or in rural, riverine and remote communities in the hinterlands (interior) of Guyana. They serve primarily as science teachers, while also working with youth and adults in communities to build their capacity to be better environmental stewards and support the effective management and sustainable use of Guyana’s natural resources.

Science and Environment Educators work in the classroom, alongside local teachers in a primary school, co-planning and co-teaching general science to Grades 3 – 6, five days a week. The primary grade science curriculum focuses on the following areas of science: animal and plant kingdoms, the human body, environment, weather, materials, earth and space, energy, and forces (gravity and electromagnetism). There is significant need and opportunity for infusing the teaching of the curriculum with inquiry-based methods using the 5Es – Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate/Expand, Evaluate place-based science and use of the local environment (outdoors) as a classroom. In addition to supporting Guyana’s National Science Curriculum, Science and Environment Educators introduce concepts and activities to support students’ understanding of and personal connection to the natural environment.

Science and Environment Educators also identify and work with interested community members to co-plan and co-facilitate an environmental/wildlife club for youth that meets after school, on weekends and/or during school breaks. The purpose of the club is to build awareness and appreciation of nature and to develop youth leadership skills.

Finally, they seek to strengthen communities' ability to assess, plan for, and manage their local natural resources sustainably, and enhance resilience to climate change. Under this objective, Volunteers and their Counterparts will co-facilitate community assessments to identify issues related to solid waste management, guide schools on best practices for handling solid waste through school engagement, and guide individuals on best practices for handling solid waste through household visits.

Other tasks include the following:

• Using Participatory Analysis for Community Assessment (PACA) tools to integrate and work with community members to identify secondary projects.
• Through Project Design and Management training create grant proposals for school/community-based projects.

With the impact COVID-19 has had on the education sector in Guyana, Science and Environment Educators will be exposed to a larger number of children whose learning skills may be below the expected grade level. These children may have suffered learning loss due to limited access to technology and the internet as well as the inconsistent supply of learning materials.

Required skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in promoting environmental awareness in schools and communities, 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:

• Demonstrated experience with educational or youth activities such as classroom teaching, tutoring, training, working with youth at camps, clubs, or wilderness activities.
• Classroom teaching experience in general science and/or environmental science in primary or secondary schools
• Bachelor’s degree or higher in biology, environmental studies, or other scientific fields
• Bachelor’s degree or higher in education
• Strong interest in promoting science and environmental education in school and communities
• Strong working knowledge of natural history and ecology
• Experience in community-based, natural resource conservation (such as biodiversity inventory and monitoring, sustainable land use planning/management, eco-tourism, solid waste management or related fields)
• Strong presentation and facilitation skills

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. English is the official language, spoken by nearly all Guyanese including indigenous people in remote communities. Other languages include Guyanese Creolese (widely spoken), and nine indigenous languages including Macushi, Wapishana, and Patomona. Science and Environment Educators receive training in Guyanese Creolese language and culture during Pre-Service Training, as well as a very limited introduction to the language spoken in their community. Emphasis is placed on self-directed, immersion language learning techniques to enhance Volunteers' ability to learn a local indigenous language in their community.

Living conditions

Guyana is the only English-speaking country in South America. It lies five degrees north of the Equator, and its climate is warm and tropical throughout the year. December to January and May to June are the rainy seasons. Guyana combines a Caribbean-flavored culture on the coast, featuring a mixture of Afro- and Indo-Guyanese influences, and a variety of indigenous cultures in the vast, forested hinterland of the interior.

Most of the population lives in a long narrow strip along the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Venezuela to Suriname. The open savannahs and forests of the interior are dotted with small indigenous communities, some of whom still preserve their own language. The country is crisscrossed by myriad rivers, and transportation to and from the Volunteer’s community may involve a mix of a minibus, hired car, small plane, motorboat, or canoe.

Many Science and Environment Educators live and work in riverine or the inner hinterlands of Guyana. Large towns have power lines, communication infrastructure and running water, while many rural villages rely on solar panels, latrines and community wells. The hinterland regions are the most rural areas of the country. They are vast and varied and include communities in savannah, forest and riverine areas. There is typically little to spotty cellular network and internet connectivity in some of these communities, so most Volunteers will be issued satellite phones for emergencies and to contact Peace Corps staff.

Living conditions vary, but Science and Environment Educators in all locations should have the ability to:

• Endure long rides on public transportation and over water
• Adjust to the high heat and humidity of a tropical climate
• Use a latrine toilet or flush a toilet with a bucket
• Wash clothes by hand in a bucket or tub or at a creek
• Take baths in a bathroom outside the home with a bucket or at a creek
• Adapt to a diet with limited availability and seasonal variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
• Live with limited or sporadic access to electricity, phone and internet
• Walk or ride a bicycle (with a Peace Corps issued helmet) long distances (1-6 miles, roughly 2-10 kilometers) over uneven terrain
• Fetch water by bucket from a river or community well

Guyanese teachers are viewed as role models in the community and are cautioned by the Ministry of Education to display publicly acceptable behaviors when not in school. Science and Environment Educators will also be held to this standard as they live and dwell in the local communities. Professional dress and behavior are extremely important in schools in Guyana. School administration expects all teachers, including Volunteers, to adhere to the Ministry of Education’s Code of Conduct which includes being well-groomed, dressing professionally (slacks, belt and button-down dress shirts for men, dresses and skirts or nice slacks with blouses for women) and respecting the organizational structure.

While Peace Corps Volunteers of various gender expressions, gender identities and sexual orientations have served successfully in Guyana, it is important to note that Guyana has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of Guyanese law and cultural norms and use their best judgment to determine how to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in the country and within their host communities. Peace Corps Guyana staff are available to provide support. They will address these topics during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms to help Volunteers who may experience a lack of openness and acceptance during their service.

Science and Environment Educators who serve successfully in Guyana are open-minded, flexible, emotionally mature, and very resilient. They deal well with ambiguity and isolation and are proactive in an unstructured setting. They are culturally competent and show respect by following cultural norms.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guyana: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Guyana can accept couples serving together. Your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

Adolescent Health Promoter.

Following training, couples in Guyana will share living arrangements, but will have separate work sites. Couples will work at neighboring communities (not more than 30 minutes apart) or in the same community but will be at different schools – a primary and a secondary. Although a couple will live together in service, each individual is expected to work at their own school and encouraged to have their own Peace Corps experience.

During Pre-Service Training (first 10 weeks) couples will live together with a host family. During that time, the couple will have their own bedroom and share common living areas with family members, including the living room, kitchen/dining areas and bathroom or latrine.

After moving to their community of service, couples may live in independent housing that meets Peace Corps Guyana’s safety and security criteria. Please note that independent housing may not be available in all communities and that some Volunteers may need to live with host families for part or all of service. We cannot guarantee a particular type of living arrangement and expect Volunteers to be flexible and adaptable.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities.

For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.

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