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Secondary Education Science Teacher

Project description

The Peace Corps has a long and rich history in Guinea. Since 1963, Peace Corps Volunteers have served in the education sector; collaborating with students, teachers, and community members to become empowered and engaged citizens. Secondary Education Science Teacher Volunteers will be assigned to a secondary school in a small town or rural community where there is a shortage of science teachers. Volunteers are trained on the “STEM Approach,” which is an approach to learning and development that integrates the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). By learning through STEM, students develop key skills, including problem solving, creativity, and critical analysis. Secondary Education Science Teachers support Guinean students in attaining math and science skills while encouraging students to become problem solvers and innovators.

The Education program’s goals and objectives focus on the following three areas:
• Students
o Increase achievement of students in science.
• Teachers
o Increase the capacity of teachers to use gender-equitable teaching practices.
o Strengthen the general, critical thinking, and/or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teaching skills of teachers.
• Learning Environment and Community
o Increase community members’ involvement in student learning and school improvement.
o Increase students’ and teachers’ access to teaching/learning materials and resources that use the STEM approach.

Teachers are typically received with respect in Guinea. Volunteers play an important role supporting and motivating learning by building interpersonal relationships with students and colleagues. Secondary Education Science Teachers promote STEM learning through these key components: gender equity, motivating girls and promoting self-confidence, student-friendly and centered approach, science camps, critical thinking activities, and demonstrations/experimentations of learned lessons, field trips, and community members’ involvement in school improvement. Volunteers balance their time between teaching, preparing exams, and attending staff meetings. Volunteers may be asked to teach other subjects, especially STEM-related subjects, depending on the needs of the school. Class sizes range from 15 to 100 students, with an average class consisting of 60 students. Volunteers receive extensive training on classroom management, science education by subject, and how to teach those subjects in the Guinean context. Previous Peace Corps Volunteers have created teaching guides with practical lesson plans that have been adapted for teaching in Guinean classrooms.

The Guinean school year starts in October and ends in June. During the summer months, Secondary Education Science Teachers are encouraged to organize STEM camps, science fairs, and/or secondary projects. Secondary projects can be at the discretion of the Volunteer but must be based on the needs and resources available in the local community and in accordance with Peace Corps Guinea’s development frameworks. Cross-sector collaboration with Health and Agriculture Volunteers is encouraged and there may be opportunities to collaborate with other national and international organizations.

Peace Corps Guinea promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. Volunteers will 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, Guinea prefers its Volunteers have one or more of the following criteria:
• Experience tutoring primary, middle, or high school aged students or adults in any science subject.
• General knowledge of chemistry and physics.
• Experience or expressed interest in working with young adults in any leadership capacity.
• A keen interest in learning about and expanding one’s knowledge of STEM teaching approaches.
• A desire to support rural education initiatives and expand STEM initiatives at the community level.
• A commitment to exchanging best practices in STEM education between the US and Guinea.
• The curiosity, motivation, flexibility, and creativity to learn from and adapt to Guinean culture and school systems.

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Although there are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position, strong motivation to learn French is a must. French is necessary to interact effectively in Guinean schools and Volunteers will be teaching in French. Peace Corps Guinea has vast experience in French language and technical language training. The three months Pre-Service Training will prepare Peace Corps Trainees to achieve intermediate high level in French. All education Volunteers will be required to attain an intermediate high level of French by the end of training. Invitees are encouraged to take a French course prior to service and to continue with tutoring during Pre-Service Training and afterward once in the community. Volunteers are provided with a monthly allowance for tutoring.

Volunteers who achieve the intermediate high level in French during training can begin to learn the local language most used in their local community. Malinke, Susu, Pular and Kissi are the languages taught by Peace Corps Guinea.

Trainees who do not achieve an intermediate high level score in French will not be allowed to swear-in until they meet that criterion after an extended training.

Living conditions

Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) are assigned to rural villages located within a day's drive from Conakry. These villages can range in size from several hundred to a few thousand people.

The Peace Corps works with communities to prepare housing and ensure that it is safe and secure, near a source of water, accessible to a market, and within walking distance of clear cell phone reception.

Houses are typically simple round huts with one to three room structures, with either metal or thatched roofs. Many are situated within a family compound Most Volunteer houses do not have electricity or running water. Houses may have inside toilet and shower areas, but most have nearby or attached access to a private pit latrine and bathing area.

Cell phone services improve each year but fluctuate by location. Phones work in almost all areas of the country, but internet access can be limited at the village level. All PCVs will receive a tablet to use during their service. Regional offices are also equipped with computers with internet access.

Personal appearance is important to the people of Guinea. During Pre-Service Training (PST), the standard professional dress code is business casual. Peace Corps Guinea staff train PCVs on cultural related matters including appropriate dress and where clothes can be purchased. Additionally, it is common in Guinea to get clothes made by a tailor.

Following PST, when PCVs are placed in communities, they will need to dress appropriately for socializing in the community and when working. Respecting Guinean culture and tradition by dressing appropriately helps PCVs gain respect in the host community. It also facilitates integration and increases PCVs credibility and effectiveness.

PCVs are provided bicycles for transport should they choose, however, many volunteer communities are within walking distance to their worksites. For longer distances, Volunteers use small passenger vehicles to go into the regional capital or to gain access to public transportation.

At most main meals, rice, maize, cassava, or a local grain called “fonio” are eaten, along with leaves (like spinach, cassava, and potato leaves), with a peanut or tomato-based sauce served with vegetables, meat, or fish. Fruits such as mangoes, avocados, pineapples, papayas, oranges, and limes are available seasonally. Vegetables are not as common and vary depending on regions and seasons. Available vegetables are usually cooked into sauces. PCVs work with community members to highlight the importance of eating these vegetables in new ways.

Though people in Guinea are generally tolerant, values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity are well defined and there are restrictive laws that target certain sexual behaviors. Peace Corps Guinea is unable to accept same-sex couples. 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. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during PST and identify potential support mechanisms for incoming Peace Corps Trainees.

During your service, you will have an incredible experience that will have many challenges, but will undoubtedly bring incredible rewards as you develop social and working relationships with a variety of people, learn to communicate in local languages, develop an understanding of local expectations and customs, along with an appreciation of local foods, and learn to live and work in Guinea, where the concepts of comfort and necessity get redefined.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Guinea: 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

Your partner must qualify and apply for the following positions:
• Secondary Education Math Teacher

Peace Corps Guinea welcomes applications from couples. Couples will live with the same host family during training. In their communities, couples will share a home that meets the same standards for all Volunteers. Couples are usually placed at the same school within the same community. There will be times during service when couples will spend days and nights apart, such as when one is attending a meeting, routine medical appointments, etc.

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