My morning had an early start with a four-hour drive, followed by learning about organic fertilizers in a room of 50+ high school girls. If you would’ve told me this was what I’d be doing at the age of 23, I probably would’ve thought you were being ridiculous and laughed it off. But here I am, doing this very thing and I stinkin’ love it.
The Field of Hope team was traveling to Jinja to conduct evaluations on the teachers that we partner with, in order to see how well they are adapting to and implementing our teaching approach. Don’t know exactly what that is? Let me fill you in really quick.
Field of Hope has partnered with Vivayic to develop an interactive secondary agricultural education curriculum to get students PUMPED UP about learning and pursuing careers in agriculture. This method contrasts the traditional teaching practices in Uganda, which typically rely solely on theory and memorization. Teachers are trained and equipped using our guidebooks, which then enables them to implement various new techniques to inspire students, such as an engaging interest approach, experiential learning, group projects, etc. In order to ensure the trained methods are being used, Field of Hope conducts teacher-evaluations, where we sit in on agriculture classes to give encouragement and growth feedback to the instructor. In a nutshell, that explains the nature of our trip to Jinja.
Our first stop for evaluations was with Timothy at Iganga Secondary School. Unlike any class I’d seen here before, these girls were HYPED UP about what they were learning. You know when a teacher asks a question and crickets…. Yeah, this wasn’t the case. Almost every student was actively participating, answering questions, repeating what the teacher had said, and just genuinely having fun in the classroom, which is exactly what we love to see!
The lesson included an outdoor demonstration on composting and organic fertilizers, which as you can imagine, got the girls even more excited. As we were walking out, I asked one of them, “Are you this excited about all your classes or is this one your favorite?”
She responded that this was, in fact, her favorite of them all, to which I asked, “Why?”
The young girl said something along the line of “Because I can take what I learn here and be successful at home.”
YES! She got it. Her statement got me so fired up that I wanted to do a little happy dance – but I didn’t, because you’ve gotta play it cool around high schoolers, am I right? Ehhh, who am I kidding, that’s never stopped me before!
This student’s response is precisely why Field of Hope does what it does. THIS is what it’s all about. Why? Because 65.6% of Uganda’s population relies on agriculture in order to provide for their families, yet 66% of households are faced with inadequate food consumption. There is so much room for growth and improvement within the agriculture sector, but kids need to be taught that this CAN be a sustainable and profitable way to live.
And it all starts in the classroom.
How is someone expected to be interested in a subject that they’ve had to do for as long as they can remember, especially when it’s taught in a mundane and “Quick, copy these notes down” type of way. But if agriculture instructors are passionate about teaching it in a way that develops critical thinking, this results in students gaining an increased understanding of modern technologies, acquiring practical agriculture skills, and learning value addition techniques.
And then, it all starts to change.
Slowly, but surely.
Students become aware of the potential to provide for themselves, their family, and their country as their classroom demonstrations translate into successful agriculture businesses down the line.
To see students with this much energy and passion in a class that has recently adapted the FOH guidebook and teaching style, is nothing short of remarkable. I can’t make this stuff up, just look at the joy on their faces!! I believe that Field of Hope IS making a difference in the lives of teachers, of students, of families, and of the entire country of Uganda. By utilizing agriculture development techniques, Field of Hope continues to break down the cycle of hunger and poverty.