A three-day workshop on value based education was organised in Yaounde by the Association ofd Living Value Education Cameroon. It was coordinated by Patricia Ndikum, assisted by Forgwe Claudia (Aunty Clo). This workshop brought together teachers from five different schools with an aim to enable teachers to create and pass on values naturally to the pupils.
On the first day, most teachers arrived very late due to very bad weather (heavy down pour). All the activities of the first day were repeated on the second day.
The second day was successful. It started with the introduction of the coordinator, the facilitators and participants. After which the main objective of the workshop was presented by the coordinator which was: ‘To enable teachers to create and pass on values naturally to the pupils’.
In her introduction, Patricia regretted the fact that rain interrupted the first day’s activities thereby making it difficult for the Workshop to kick off smoothly. She however appreciated the attendance of the second day. She announced that the program was to be participatory and participants should not expect lectures from any teacher. She added that Living Values Education is all about sharing values and ideas. She went on to give a brief history of Living Values Education. She mentioned that Living Values is not only for educators but for people of all background throughout the world.
The first activity was a reflection on personal values. Participants were given some moments of silence to reflect or imagine a comfortable place or position such as a relaxing place in nature for example a forest, a garden, a sea shore, beside a river etc., a person who has influenced your life positively. Participants gave respective experiences. This exercise aimed at value awareness, drew us to the identification of values such as peace, love, uniqueness, to appreciate and orientate. The lesson drawn was that each one of us possess values which can change our society for better if and only if we live them.
Participants were then asked to reflect on some of their ancestral values that are helpful to them today. After some moments of sharing, participants were divided into groups. Each group was to come up with a tree of values for Cameroon, after which each group made their presentation. Before the groups presented, a question was asked by the facilitator to define the word values. What could be retained from the various definitions was that, values are positive attitudes or qualities which could be moral, intellectual, physical or spiritual. After the presentation of all groups the most popular 12 values were identified. They are: cooperation, honesty, love, respect, responsibility, freedom, humility, peace, happiness, simplicity, tolerance and unity. A value tree of Cameroon was drawn.
An interlude was observed during which Aunty Clo taught a song.
LOVE, PEACE, JOY
I have love like a river like a river
I have love like a river like a river
I have love like a river like a river
In my soul (2x)
I have love, peace, joy, like a river (3x)
In my soul (2x).
The last activity of the day was a visualisation and imagination exercise. Participants were asked to reflect and imagine their childhood life, imagine a school of their dream, and how they would like the teachers to be and in what manner should a child be treated. The teachers went into another group work. They came up with the idea of an ideal teacher in reference to schools in which all needs of pupils were met.
1) How an ideal teacher would be
- Good listener, decent and intelligent, full of affection for children, jovial/polite caring/ helpful and trustful, creative/dynamic, duty and time conscious, neat, patient, kind/ generous, motivates, spontaneous, good counsellor
2) Dream school
- Neat, having a playground, garden, well equipped/ ventilated classrooms, staff office, toilets, qualified teachers, good dinning sheds, good computer lab/library, assessable, good lighting system, available didactic materials, well planned and organised programmes, good management
The day rounded off with the briefing of the next day’s activities and an assignment given to teachers to draw a value tree for their various schools.
The third day started with a reflection of day two activities. The assignments given to the teachers were presented. The coordinator then drew the attention of participants to the different lessons that could be drawn from the presentation of the respective value trees. Various answers were given and debated upon. It was noted that just from the value tree of a school or an organisation or a country, one can have an understanding or a good knowledge of that institution without physically contacting them.
Visualisation and imagination exercise continued,
Participants were asked to reflect on their childhood life. In what manner would you like to be treated? Imagine you were a child. The teachers reflected and brainstormed on the topic. They said, a child needs affection, care, love, understanding, motivation, satisfaction, protection, valued, good counselling, dialogue and guidance.
The next activity was the qualities of a good educator.
Qualities of a good educator
The teachers felt the qualities of a good teacher would be:
Good listener, cooperative, a model, courageous, gentle, respectful, good counsellor, impartial, objective, honest, responsible, tolerant, simple, dynamic, appreciative, jovial, reactive, current, spontaneous, observant, patient, punctual, assessable and open minded.
Another song was taught by the facilitator which went thus;
that makes the world go round
It’s love that makes the world go round
After the song, participants were divided into two groups and were instructed to communicate with their partners on specific topics. One group was given the name angels and the other the stars. While they were debating facilitators passed round with an instruction to each group that would affect the communication. The lesson learnt was to enable participants to develop good communication and listening skills.
Understanding: Teachers need to understand and address the root causes of problems and find compassionate or sensitive ways to help children change their behaviour, keeping in mind that every child needs to be loved, respected, valued, understood and safe. The exercise ended with a list of “do’s” and “don’ts”.
Attentive, talk-less, dialogue, encourage, advice, free expression, support, observant, appreciate, acknowledge, tolerant, paraphrase, eye contact, facial expression, polite.
Interrupt, ignore, rude, criticise, blame, sigh, distract, neglect, intimidate, over instruct, dictate, too much advice, impose, insult, torture, favour fight.
Then conflict resolution was introduced under which there was mediation skills and what not to do and do do in conflict resolution.
Be objective, impartial, good judgement, don’t impose, don’t intimidate, don’t moralise, dialogue, ask questions, be calm, have patience, courage, respect, be peaceful, have unity forgiveness, humility, be tactful, polite, attentive, maintain order.
What not to do in conflict resolution
Don’t shout, blame, and provide solution
Value based discipline
- Help pupils to develop self respect
- Build awareness in the pupils
- Use of silence in order to reflect
- Pupils propose rules for the class
- Give responsibilities to pupils
- Aim for win win, everybody tries to be the best)
Tools for the teacher
- Tolerance to obstacles encounter on duty and deal with them in a positive manner
- Be flexible in difficult situations
- Ability to find inner strength when there is tension
- To be able to face challenges, for example large classes with lack of teaching aids
- To be able to put aside worries, troubles and concerns and put on a smiling face
- To see every child as a diamond, that is to recognise his or her special qualities
- To be impartial in dealing with children while judging fairly
- The willingness to cooperate in lifting up the fallen standard of education
Participants were encouraged to make use of the values learned by implementing them in their daily lessons.
After the training we went on the field to see how the teachers have been implementing the Living Values lessons in their respective schools. This led us to a one week field activity during which some of the activities such as the paper tower etc. that could not be carried out during the training were then realised.
A week activity on the implementation of values in the classrooms was carried out. We followed up with some of the teachers in their respective classes and helped them implement values lessons in the course of their class work.
In each institution two teachers were selected to be our contact persons. They shall be the ones to continue the follow up on our behalf. Two pilot schools were chosen, they are “Amasia Bilingual Complex” and “CEF Bilingual Nursery and Primary School”.
On the first day, the class teacher introduces the team to the children. After which the coordinator introduced the first activity. Pupils were asked to give the names of those they admired most and the reason for their choices. Various reactions were gotten from children. This exercise led the children to some sort of career orientation, appreciation, admiration, wanting to become like their role models. Furthermore children were ask to stay quiet either by sleeping or folding hands for about 2 minutes. Again various experiences were shared, some said they were happy inside, others wanted to sleep, others said friends were disturbing. These exercises led the children to bring out the values “Peace and happiness”.
An assignment was given to the pupils to go home and demonstrate some of the values lessons learnt so far.
The following day, the children explain how they changed their behaviour at home through activities carried out. Reactions from parents as presented by the pupils.
- “My father only smiled.”
- “My mother said, ‘You are a good girl.’”
- “My mother smiled and said nothing.”
- “My father said, ‘You are a good boy.’”
- “My sister said, “That was good.” etc
A child having understood the lesson felt she could express more love to her mother on the occasion of mother’s day. She asks:
“Please Madame, if you were a child like us and it is the 29th of May, which gift will you give your mother?” Sincerely we did not remember the event celebrated on that day. We threw back the question unto them. Reactions from the children: The 29th May is mother’s day. Some of the replies we got from the pupils were;
- “I will give her flowers.”
- “I will draw my mother.”
- “I will draw a heart and write below I love you.”
- I will write a love letter to her.”
- “I will draw my mother and her family.”
These reactions from the level four children showed that they are really following up the lesson.
The next activity with the class four pupils was to build a paper tower. We decided to change the idea of a paper tower to a paper house.
The class was divided into four groups and each group had to construct a house of their choice using cardboard papers with different colours. This activity became very intense, so much so that we found it difficult to stop them. We later realised that the children did not take it as an ordinary exercise; it became some sort of a competition, to see which group could build the best house. Again we realised that these children did some kind of division of labour. Some were in charge in building only the roof, others the body work (the walls), the floor, the doors and windows and a special team was to decorate the house. Even though they divided the work, they faced a lot of difficulties too. Such as the pupils’ said:
- “It was not easy.”
- “Not everybody worked.”
- “Some people did not want to work.”
- “Some people wanted to make their own group.”
- “Some wanted only their ideas to be taken.”
- “Some wanted to work alone.”
- “Some were insulting.”
- “Some were angry and left the group but came back.”
- “Some cried because their house was ugly.”
- “Some group members ran away from their ugly house.”
- “Some cried because they said they were responsible for the ugly house.”
From the experience gathered, in order to live their values they have to change their personality. This led them to cry, quarrel, run away from group because they were afraid to fail, etc but finally they had to regain their group because they did not have any other option. They said if they stay away others will continue working thus they are bound to work together.
Lesson learnt is that, they must learn to work together for what is profitable to the group, the school or the community.
The fact that they regained their groups showed that they let go their differences and focused on the common goal. Each group wanted to be the best. Those who ran away finally regained the courage to give their own contribution in the building of the house. Lesson on how to be cooperative, creative, hardworking, loving, courage and simplicity were drawn from the activity
The last activity we carried out was drawing a value tree for their class.
Some of them were not used to the word values and how to apply them, as such it was like something new, good to be applied in day to day life. Even though they have been hearing or using the words, they do not know the full implication of the words as living values. They were happy and wished the program were continuous. They also wished to be selected to work on values. That was the reason why they decided to sacrifice their time to attend the program right up to the end. Some regretted starting late, they did not know that it was so interesting and important. Some expressed their willingness to be part of the living values team.
Reactions received from children after assignment was given. Parents were astonished, appreciated them, this made the children happy and decided to live value based life because according to them it makes everybody happy and comfortable.
The paper house activity had a great impact on the children in that, they came to realise that they were bound to cooperate as a group, to take into consideration each other opinion despite their differences, which led some of them to cry quarrel argue, fear of failure, run away from their groups to join other groups etc.
At the end, the children became conscious of their personality and responsibility to contribute to the success of their groups as such they regained their various groups fully engaged.
N.B: A little girl remarked that, “It was useless leaving the group because others remained working. And, if you go to another group you will be chased away”.
The fact that they regained their groups shows that they led go their differences and focused on their goal. Each person wants the best, each group want to be the first. What an unprepared competition.
We worked under very difficult conditions due to very little resources (material, financial, human resource etc.) at our disposal.
From what we have gathered so far through this pilot training, we thought it is very necessary making it a program to be implemented all over Cameroon.
This training will not only empower the teachers and pupils but has a great effect on the family as well as the community at large. One teacher reaches out to averagely 40 children and one child reaches out to averagely five people in his or her home, imagine the number of homes and people that will be touched.
Studies have shown that in Cameroon, most homes are living on practically hand to mouth (less than 2 dollars a day). Making it difficult for parents to have time for their children as some have to go out for businesses in the evening while the children are left alone in the house with nobody to talk to them or give them home base education. The value lessons learnt, stand as a guide to the children and the family as they will be able to manage up and be responsible even in the absence of their parents or guardian.
In some homes, parents or guardians come back in the evening very late and tired thus have very little or no time for their children. As such, these trainings of teachers and pupils in schools will be building a solid rock for these children in the early years of their existence. With these values they will be armed to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.
Empowering the youths by inculcating in them the importance of living their values and developing their full potentials is empowering the future leaders of our communities, country and the whole world.
Empowering them with values is in a way playing the role of parents in their lives filling the gap that exist between them and their parents especially children whose parents do not make out time for them due to economic reasons.
Most parents do not know what values are, some are even ignorant about the idea of living values. Some are recalcitrant, some careless about the moral wellbeing of their children and even that of their family. This program will turn to pull their attention through the children’s behaviour change as a result of value lessons learnt in schools.
For the program to have a continuous impact on the children, the school and the community at large, we are going to create living values clubs in the different schools. Through these clubs we are going to have constant interaction with the schools.
Focal point persons are going to be established in our partner schools to maintain continues activities. These activities could be extended to interschool competition on living values issues.
In addition to our program we look forward to create awareness through sensitization campaign in public places such as offices, business places and even through the media. By so doing most parent will be reached and this will create an enabling environment for the children to comfortably live their values at home and in the community without being frustrated.
1- One of the facilitators happened to visit a friend in her home. While she was there she heard the boy child in the house telling her younger sister who was disturbing him to allow him live his values. She then asked the boy what he knew about values. He said: “You came to our school and taught us values, so I am living my values in the house’. And ’How do you live it’? she asked? ‘By cleaning the veranda every day. I now know that I have to do it every day to show that I am responsible”. The child’s mother testified that at first he was lazy and did not want to do anything. All of a sudden he started helping in house chores.
2- Another child testified that she went back home after school and found out that her mother was not in the house and her elder sister was lying sick on the bed. The houses chores were not yet done so she helped in cooking, washing plates and cleaning the house. This was very unusual as she hardly works in the house. When her mother returned, she appreciated her. Her elder sister also appreciated her and said, “Thank you very much you are a good girl”. She was very happy and this left a positive impact in her.
The Living Values team in Cameroon wishes to continue in this light gradually to all the regions of Cameroon. Our resources were very limited, but we still managed to carry out a training of trainers seminar under very diffucult conditions. We can do much better if we have resources at our disposal.