Life-changing teaching experience in Zambia for former Warwick School pupil - The Leamington Observer

Life-changing teaching experience in Zambia for former Warwick School pupil

Leamington Editorial 22nd Feb, 2019   0

A YEAR-LONG trip to teaching pupils in Africa proved a life-changing experience for a former Warwick School pupil.

Harvey Innocent taught maths and physics, ran revision sessions and coached rugby teams at Petauke Boarding School, in a deprived area of rural Zambia.

The 19-year-old was inspired by the eagerness of the pupils who often undertook heavy manual labour, before their eight hour school day, to support their families.

He said: “Classes varied from 25 to 65 pupils, sharing desks and chairs, packed into small, overcrowded rooms. Yet few complained and everyone was focused on acquiring the best education they could, with a smile on their face, however tough their circumstances. It certainly made me appreciate my own good schooling and loving, supportive family.”

But the Ashorne resident felt some seemed disinterested, possibly because they felt circumstances would hold them back from pursuing any further education.

Education at the school cost around £100 a year for the parents, many of who could only afford a fraction of the amount. The impoverished conditions also meant staff often went without pay.

Harvey said he sometimes witnessed teachers slapping, punching or beating pupils with a stick if they failed to follow instructions or broke even minor school rules.

It made him determined to offer pupils some respite by providing ‘interesting and thought-provoking lessons’.

“I showed my pupils different study methods, explaining that there were better ways to revise than staring at their notes for hours on end and also introduced several interactive classroom games which brought the subject alive for them.

“Working with the school’s senior management team, I helped to devise ways of using the school’s resources more effectively and introduced pupil feedback to help improve their learning experience.”

He also coached some of the pupils in rugby despite the only available kit being a ball.

“It was great to see so many youngsters learning new skills. Pupils often played barefoot – and in their school uniform or a variation thereof – and relished the teamwork, physicality and excitement of the game which provided a welcome respite from the otherwise harsh conditions of their lives.”

Harvey himself was forced to endure frequent power cuts, minimal running water and life without internet, TV, a phone and the fast food he was used to back home.

He existed on a modest diet which often included the local staple – ‘nshima’ – a pulp made from water and flour with onions and tomatoes.

As such he did learn ‘unexpected skills’ when he killed, plucked and roasted chickens for some variation.

Harvey, who now plans to study politics, philosophy and economics in London, said the experience had taught him an important lesson in communicating with people in spite of language barriers, as well as an appreciation for his life back home.

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