Sarah: Hi John and Colline! Thanks for sitting down to chat with me about Action in Africa's Primary Partnership Program. Let's jump straight into it! If you could pick three words to describe PPP what would they be?
John: First of all I should say it is educative, that is the first thing, second of all entertainment (or edutainment!), and thereafter I say creativity.
Colline: Looking at all the activities we do, it reminds me of something I read somewhere about early learning and childhood education. I realized that within the Ugandan education system..someone gets chalk and a blackboard and have a syllabus they have to follow....I realized that is not learning. Learning is what we experience in our life, right from childhood...These kids, we are giving them guidance right from the start that by the time they get to a higher level of understanding, they will have matured in their reasoning, creativity, and public image. So the three words I would say is learning, creativity, and growing.
Sarah: What are some of the changes you as facilitators have witnessed?
John: When the children come here there is something we have tried to put in them and tried to understand with us...We have taught them to be friendly...When they come to AIA we love making circles, squares, standing next to each other, you find the girl or boy standing alone, you find they are scared or have a fear that if they stand next to a boy "my friend will laugh", we don’t blame them because that is what the system has taught them in school, so that is what we have tried to do. We don’t want tables or benches, we sit in circles and we mingle.
Sarah: Tell me a little more about your teaching methods. How do you get prepared to teach all these classes since you guys are teaching 16+ different creative based classes a week?
Colline: First it requires us to understand the class, which means we have to understand the students. If we look at a particular class of students, we know we need them to be at a certain level in answering examination questions. So when we come to The Center we are prepared for that specific class and their level. We will know if they do not know how to answer questions and find out why don’t they know. And then, we find activities, games and lesson plans to help.
Sarah: What are your personal goals for your classes? What is the goal of the programs within PPP? Why do you come here every day?!
Colline: I was a shy boy when I was in primary school. I was that boy who would sit in class behind and be quiet. After the lesson, I would go home, read books, and be the quiet boy. Then I got someone who taught me the importance of being confident and talking out loud and being open. So I realized wow, this is what I have missed for the past many years. We now acknowledge that there is a population that needs this and they do not know the importance of some of these social qualities of life. So that is when we came up with this idea and we were like we need to teach. For us, when we get back home each day we say, we have taught the generation that we want to see in the future.
Sarah: I love that! Now, I have very lofty and often crazy visions for AIA. That’s my job- to dream the biggest dreams. So tell me if I’m crazy, but I so deeply believe in the work of AIA, but specifically in our Primary Partnership Program. I believe that in the next 5 to 10 to 20 years the kids from our PPP will be the next leaders, the teachers, the innovators, the entrepreneurs, the business owners of Uganda. I largely attribute this to the programs that you guys have helped us develop through PPP. Am I crazy, or do you agree?
John: That is crazy! But in the right way because that is our aim. There is no way someone wakes up to learn social life, like confidence, public speaking, or how to stand before an audience so we teach these qualities. We know that one day someone is going to want to be a leader in their school and without these qualities, he or she is going to fail. But because we have equipped them with these skills they are going to be able to stand in front and tell all the kids, "I want to be this and that and that and that." And they are going to wake up and say vote for so and so and then the student wins. For us, we shall know that those fruits came from AIA and PPP.
Sarah: Wow. Amazing! So, so true. Okay, Colline and John. Thank you so much for your love and dedication. We are beyond grateful for all you contribute to Action in Africa, especially the creative based classes you teach our Primary Partnership Program students. We wouldn't be able to do this work without both of you!