On January 22-23, 2016, representatives from seven African nations visited Kigali, Rwanda for an East African English Language Teaching Association (ELTA) General Assembly titled “Networking Beyond the Boundaries: An Approach to Effective English Teacher Professional Development in East Africa.” The weekend event was organized by the Association of Teachers of English in Rwanda together with English Language Fellow Leanne Cameron (Rwanda) and sponsored by RELO East Africa and US Embassy Kigali. ELTA members from Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Democratic Republic of Congo (Bukavu), and Cameroon came together to foster relationships and establish a network of teaching associations. Associations included:
– Ugandan English Language Teachers’ Association (UNELTA)
– Congolese Language Supporters’ Society (CLASS)
– Tanzanian English Language Teacher Association (TELTA)
– Zanzibar English Language Teacher Organization (ZAPELATO)
– Cameroon English Language and Literature Teachers Association (CAMELTA)
– English Language Professionals’ Association – Ethiopia (ELPAE)
– Boro English Teachers’ Association, Siaya Region, Kenya (BETA-SIAYA)
– Association of Teachers of English in Rwanda (ATER)
English Language Teachers, English Language Fellows and the Regional English Language Office, Scott Chiverton outside the conference room.
In their opening remarks, both the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Kigali, Ms. Rebecca Danis and the president of the association of Teachers of English in Rwanda, Richard Niyibigira talked about the role of such event in strengthening the ties of English teachers in the region. They both mentioned the importance for working together as a team to deal with English teachers professional development in the East Africa region and central Africa regions. Through the quote “If you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” Ms. Rebecca Danis encouraged the event participants to keep working together and to approach the US Embassies in their respective countries to know more about the resources that are available for them.
Along with the ELTA representatives, EL Fellows Leanne Cameron, Jessica Griner, Robert Palisin (Rwanda), Jessica FitzPatrick (Uganda), Hannah Murphy (Ethiopia), and Steven Pachan (DRC) attended and facilitated roundtable discussions. ATER leadership, including Richard Niyibigira, Vivens Hitiyaremye, Juliet Kyobweine, Kanyankole Rukundo played an important role in hosting the conference and providing feedback from their experience.
Scott Cheverton (on the left) and ELFs Steve Pachan, Robert Palisin and Hannah Murphy Promoting the American English website & materials at the ELTA Assembly.
The weekend event consisted of State of the Association presentations from each ELTA, roundtable discussions and presentations about challenges, solutions, and best practices, as well as presentations from RELO East Africa Scott Chiverton and representatives from the British Council. On the first afternoon there was a resource fair, highlighting the American English Website, Voice of America, MOOCs and online courses, US Embassy IRC, and British Council resources. The roundtable discussions and presentations covered recruiting and maintaining membership, leadership strategies, organizing with little funds, and organizing conferences. The final afternoon focused on strategies for continued networking between ELTAs. This included practices to stay connected, online resource sharing, and creating action plans.
Vivens Hitiyaremye, ATER Vice President , presenting about ATER challenges, solutions, and best practices
The goal of this weekend event was to not only foster relationships, but also to promote an ongoing dialogue for contact and collaboration between East African ELTAs and establish a relevant platform for continued communication. This engagement seeks to promote a spirit of peaceable, professional interaction and connectivity between the nations of Central and East Africa while also increasing exposure of associations’ regional conferences and promote opportunities for association members to attend events hosted in neighboring countries.