Stories of Change

The volunteer teacher training.

200 unaccompanied refugee youth live in CWS-supported shelters in Jakarta.

Source: CWS Annual Report 2017

Volunteer teachers make learning fun for refugee youth in Indonesia

Education is one way to inspire hope among displaced and at-risk children, including those who are separated from their families as refugees and asylum seekers in foreign countries far from their homelands.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Jakarta, Indonesia, where CWS staff see that there is a thirst for education among the multicultural unaccompanied and separated refugee children in the group homes supported there in partnership with the UNHCR, the U.S. State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and Australia’s Department of Home Affairs.

Since effective education happens largely because of dedicated, inspired – and inspiring – teachers, CWS has worked over the years to develop and support such a group, all of whom are volunteers and refugees themselves. In the spirit of creating positive learning environments, CWS recently organized a continuing education workshop for volunteer teachers that focused on innovation in how subject matter can be more effectively taught to a multicultural “student body,” many of whom have had little or no formal education.

With a focus on optimizing creativity in teaching, and on using all available resources, the workshop considered using “old-fashioned” chalk boards and paper as well as modern media – videos, audio recordings, computers and mobile phones – as well as playful teaching aids like board games and experiments. For example, the science-teaching volunteers learned how to make ‘slime’ and to share the science behind it.

The workshop gave 12 volunteers, most of whom were not educated to be teachers, a chance to discuss the challenges, and opportunities, in becoming positive, engaging teachers. Now, energized by coming together to share ideas on being better teachers through innovative and engaging classrooms, the group will focus next on reviewing curricula content so they can keep providing the best education possible – despite many limitations. “The training had a good effect. We’re learning more modern methods that show us how learning can be fun [no matter what the subject]. As teachers we need to be up-to-date,” said Tayiba, a former dentistry student from Yemen who has become a science teacher now and is happy for the chance to be positively engaged in supporting the large refugee and asylum seeker community in Jakarta, where she has lived for two years now.

With partner and donor support, which includes Indonesian non-government organizations and charities as well as a few American individuals, CWS continues engaging, and being grateful for, the many adult refugees who come forward to teach, voluntarily, so the young people and children among them do not lose hope nor their dreams.