Meet Abilio Muteli Pelagio, a student from the ADPP TTC Maputo
Meet Abílio Muteli Pelágio, a student from the ADPP Teacher Training College of Maputo
“All depends on the creativity of the teacher”
“Acertou, acertou, muito bem!” (“Got it right, got it right, very well!”) sing the children of the 2nd grade at the EPC 5 de Fevereiro Primary School in Machava, Maputo, in unison and give a loud round of applause to their classmate who has just written the letter “A” correctly on the blackboard. The song is part of a play that encourages children to take active part in the class. The proud little girl has barely reached her desk when her colleagues already line up to write the next letter. Every one wants to be sung to.
“The most important thing is to create a willingness to learn in a child. Achieving this depends on the creativity of the teacher,” explains Abílio Muteli Pelágio, a 25-year old student from the ADPP Teacher Training College of Maputo (TTC) when asked about how to teach children to read and write. “One can use the traditional ABC-book, but one can also use songs and games, for instance. In fact, children learn best through play and games.”
Pelágio is among the TTC Maputo students who benefits from the USDA-financed Food For Education Program through which altogether 4.000 primary school teachers will be trained in Mozambique between 2013-2015. He began his practice period at the EPC 5 de Fevereiro Primary School in February 2013. The period took altogether 8 months during which the students had the opportunity to practice their skills acquired during the training and to get a first-hand experience of what it takes to capture the attention of lively primary school aged children.
“My best experience were the extra-curricular classes that we gave to students who had problems in reading and writing,” Pelágio continues. “They were very successful in making children learn. In the beginning there were only 16 students participating in them but they got so popular over time that the whole class would come to them at the end. Not one single student failed at the end of the year exams and I am convinced that it was thanks to our classes.”
The secret, according to Pelágio, was in the “alphabet box”, a didactic tool designed by him and his teacher student colleagues. The box itself was a simple cardboard box but included all letters of the alphabet cut from colorful cardboard paper. The idea was to let the children use the letters to build words as if they were constructing a puzzle. “This made learning the alphabet and practicing writing a fun game,” he explains.
Pelágio gives no excuse to teachers whose students perform poorly. “It all depends on the teacher. If there is a student in the class who is lagging behind, it is the teacher’s responsibility to see that the student gets all the support and help needed in order to catch up with the others.”
He also stresses the importance of creating the conditions for learning since the beginning. “My technique is to ensure that all children feel comfortable right from the start. I treat every child as if I already knew him or her. In this way he or she will feel that we are friends and that we are working towards the same goals,” he explains. “This is key in stripping the child from any possible shyness and in creating an real willingness to learn.”