Taking One Bite at a Time

By Julian Richter | TeachBeyond Global Communications

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That was not so much a joke but an inspiration to the people planning the immense effort of transferring the principles of transformational education to teachers in 20,000 schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Tammy Peters, TeachBeyond’s Educational Services School Start Up Consultant. The Elephant Program became the name of the professional development project to reach these teachers.

Bishop Nyamuke of the ECC (Eglise du Christ du Congo) invited the Association of Christian Schools International to join the ECC in bringing a Christ-centered curriculum to the 20,000 schools overseen by the denomination.

TeachBeyond’s Fateb Kinshasa Academy (FKA) was the first school founded on these principles, and has served as a “best practice school” for others. Its teachers have taught in professional development programs for other schools.

Making Disciples of Christ

Bishop Nyamuke of the ECC had a burden to see students become disciples of Christ. In order to do that, the denomination’s leaders saw that the model of education in the DRC needed to be updated. In the traditional schools, teachers lectured and students wrote down the words. There was no student participation, and no integration of faith into the lessons.

TeachBeyond was invited to participate in creating a model of education that integrated faith into the curriculum so that students developed a biblical worldview. ACSI developed nine modules of professional development, and for the past five year, 60 master teachers from schools across the nation have been trained. They go back to their provinces where each will train 150 teachers, who will go into schools to train those teachers.

Learning Best Practices

There are three sections to the training: transformational leadership, biblical worldview and biblical integration into the classroom, and best-practice teaching methods for teachers and learners based on a biblical worldview.

Teachers are learning best practices in education to help their students, and are taught to evaluate how students best learn. The new model is of the teacher as a coach, not an authoritarian figure in front of the class. The key is to stress transformational teaching; teaching that models servant leadership. This is a revolutionary concept for teachers in DRC. It is a reach for them to understand servant leadership, but we felt the Holy Spirit working and transforming the mindset of teachers.

The next task of ECC is funding to expand training. ACSI has given them the professional development curriculum. They have FKA as a model. This the program of the African church, not a western agency. It’s the beginning of change for 20,000 schools in the DRC. It will take years, but they are taking small bites of the elephant.