Teacher Profile: Vincent Orwa
To celebrate World Teachers Day (October 5), we’re sharing stories from our teachers here in Nairobi. In these profiles, Josephine, Lilian, Agnes and Vincent share their experience working in the informal settlements, reflect on their interaction with Dignitas, and provide wonderful insight into the challenges and joys of educating Kenya’s next generation. Why not honor and celebrate our teachers by donating to Dignitas today?
Vincent Orwa teaches math, English and social studies at Vigil School and has been a teacher since 2005. “I just found myself liking it,” he says. He likes interacting with the children, playing games with them outside, involving them in the class. However, Vincent’s relationship with his students was not always as positive as it is today.
“I used to cane. I used to seriously cane children,” he admits. “I was very hostile to the children and children… were very afraid of me.”
Corporal punishment is not uncommon in Kenyan schools and many teachers were caned themselves as students. In Dignitas partner schools, many educators have no formal teacher training and are often unaware of other behaviour management strategies or unconvinced of their effectiveness.
Discipline is a key topic we discuss with Dignitas Fellows at the Leadership Training Institute (LTI), providing teachers with insight into child behaviour and development, and practical strategies for positive and effective classroom management.
When Vincent attended an LTI with other Vigil staff two years ago, he began to reconsider how best to manage a room full of students.“Dignitas used to tell us that caning is not the only way,” he explains. Since the training, the school has made some major changes.
“We don’t even cane children [anymore], and we still find ourselves performing!”
The impact on Vincent ran deep. “After the training, I found myself a totally changed man.”
The word that Vincent now identifies with is “diligence.” He believes that teachers have the responsibility to make sure that the children understand each concept and idea, despite any barriers. He believes that teachers should be flexible, especially in a class with a wide range of comprehension and ability.
And Vincent believes deeply in the idea that a warm and personalized relationship between the teacher and student will be the force most likely to push the student toward success. “I see every child as having a lot and a great potential!”
“After the training, I found myself a totally changed man.”
– Vincent Orwa, Vigil School
Teachers like Vincent, with his love for children, his quiet passion and his seven years teaching experience, have huge potential and that potential is key to our work in school transformation. At Dignitas, we’re dedicated to nurturing the potential of our teachers and schools to ensure every child has access to a positive, safe and warm learning environment.