Sixth Form Lecture Series – Redearth Education
Friday 12th October 2018
On Friday 5 October, Founders of Redearth Education Lynne Pritchard and Ronnie Katzler gave an inspiring talk to our Sixth Form Students, as part of the Lower 6 Academic Enrichment Programme.
Redearth Education is a volunteer-led UK charity and Ugandan NGO. They work with the local government in Uganda to provide quality training to primary and pre-primary teachers in public schools that are often remote, overcrowded and under-resourced.
Lynne, who previously worked as a headteacher in a London school, and Ronnie, who previously worked as an advisory teacher to the deaf, training teachers how to teach deaf pupils, started volunteering teaching in Uganda in 2003.
During their time volunteering, Lynne and Ronnie revealed that one of the things that struck them the most, was that the pupils never spoke. Lessons would be comprised of a teacher speaking to the class for the entirety of a lesson, with students sat quietly at their desks listening. Creative engagement between pupils and teachers, and groups of pupils themselves, was nowhere to be seen.
This inspired the pair to establish an organisation and system to train Ugandan school teachers, to provide them with the skills needed to truly inspire and enhance their pupils’ learning.
After explaining how Redearth Education came to be, Lynne and Ronnie taught our students an exercise that their teachers use in their classrooms. In pairs, the girls had to count to three over and over, alternating which numbers were said by each member of the pair. They then had to replace the number ‘one’ with a clap, which proved to be a lot more difficult that expected!
Although the room was filled with giggles and clapping, Lynne and Ronnie were able to quickly quieten everybody down by performing a series of follow-along dance moves to capture everyone’s attention, another technique used by their trained teachers in Uganda.
This was a great example of creative engagement between everybody in the whole room.
Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 48% of the population being under 15 years old. By 2050, it is estimated that 25% of the world’s 9 billion population will be African, most of whom will be under 30 years old.
Yet, Uganda has an extremely poor education system, with 80% of students dropping out before finishing primary school. The Ugandan government currently only spend the equivalent of £1.50 per child per year in schools, choosing to spend most of their budget on military purposes.
These statistics alone revealed why it was so important for Lynne and Ronnie to not just give money to schools in Uganda, but to train teachers how to teach effectively. These teachers will then be able to train other teachers, and this method of ‘cascade training’ is exactly how Redearth Education has been able to train over 1,200 teachers, to teach over 60,000 children, so far.
The whole Redearth model is designed to be entirely sustainable so that, in the near future, the programmes can be run entirely by a Ugandan team without external intervention. Ronnie, explained that “the best outcome is for us, the founders, to become ‘redundant’”.
Lynne and Ronnie showed our Sixth Form students some videos of some of the teaching methods their trained teachers use in classrooms. For example, using a chain of plastic bottles for word building exercises, and basic phrases in six different languages, all used by students in the classroom, written on pieces of cardboard, so that students who use different native languages can communicate with each other.
Today, Redearth Education works with over 130 schools in Uganda, and have many other organisations coming to them to learn how to train teachers in similar parts of Africa.
After an insightful question and answer session, Lynne and Ronnie left our students with this piece of advice:
“Never be discouraged. No matter how small it may be, if you have a good idea, share it. You never know what could become of it!”
Our Sixth Form students left Readearth Education’s lecture inquisitive into how local and global education systems can be changed, and inspired to make their own impact on the world.
“It was a really eye opening lecture.” Sylvia S (L6)
“Seeing how just a few people can change so many people’s lives in another part of the world was really inspiring.” Hazelle M (L6)
“It was interesting to see first-hand what we take for granted, and how fundraising could really make an impact. Volunteering is a great thing to do, but I know it isn’t for everyone. Fundraising is so easy and something that everyone can do locally.” Amy N (L6)
A big thank you to Lynne and Ronnie for delivering this Sixth Form lecture. We wish you a safe journey back to Uganda, and success in the future of Redearth Education.