Reflections on Sixteen Years with Watchmen International Nursery Schools

By Bill Carver

 

How does one make a difference to a five year old child in East Africa?  The eighteen Watchmen International Nursery Schools are part of the answer.

In the past sixteen years, I’ve watched as teachers and pastors in East Africa (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi) and Congo ministered the love of Christ to 4, 5, and 6 year old children in rural villages.  Donors who are thousands of miles away have provided funds that subsidize teachers, modest facilities, daily meals, and curriculum to some 1800 students per year.

The personality of these schools vary; they reflect the life-style, resources, and faith of the villages where each school is found.  The schools are overseen by pastors associated with Watchmen International.  The formal education level of teachers varies from eight years in school to four years at a university.  Schools are encouraged to form a parent committee that is a source of assistance and encouragement to the head teachers.  Annual training is provided to school staff equipping teachers to teach English as a second language (ESL) using a phonics based method known as “Zoo-phonics”.  WI also provides the means necessary to send a school supervisor to each of the schools twice a year to evaluate progress and supplement teacher training.

But most important, the students receive love and affirmation from caring adults who give skills necessary for success in elementary school and fundamental truths about Christianity.  Materials are basic with most students limited to a small composition book and a short pencil.  Instruction is facilitated by posters, cards, hand-made drawings, some curriculum from Zoo-phonics, and a well-used chalkboard.  Students crowd together on benches often sitting with younger siblings.  In spite of close quarters, teacher maintain the attention of the class that responds eagerly to instruction.  Music is often heard as students practice lyrics that help reinforce language and important ideas.  A daily meal of corn porridge flavored with sugar is eagerly consumed.  One can watch 50+ children line up for a turn on the small slide or makeshift carrousel on the playground at recess.

At training, one is struck by the conscientious approach of teachers.  It can be said that teachers must first be good students; and indeed, they apply themselves diligently to the opportunity to learn more effective methods of instruction.  They value and celebrate receiving certificates of participation following a week of study.  Year after year, observers return to classrooms and watch the previous year’s training being put into practice.

Teachers also learn to effectively share the plan of salvation with students.  Each school leader is a member of a local church.  Parents are grateful that their children are enrolled and often become members of the village church, worshiping in the same building that serves as a classroom for the students.

Because the school is in their village, students receive a school experience otherwise unavailable.  They are exposed to the love of Christ modeled by believers who serve them daily. Pastors are given influence in the community in which they serve.  Families are encouraged to attend church.  School fees are subsidized for needy families. Children receive a meal for the belly and instruction for the mind and soul!  Thanks be to God for providing this ministry in rural Africa to 4, 5, and 6 year children. 



 

 

January 2019

 

 

January 2019

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January 2019

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January 2019

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January 2019

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