Through the support of English Language Fellow Renee Lynch, two English teachers from Burundi were given the opportunity to attend the Association for English Teachers in Rwanda (ATER) first international conference in Muhanga, Rwanda. This conference brought 145 English teachers from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burundi together to discuss the role of teacher associations and present on current topics relevant to teaching English in East Africa. The two Burundian teachers, one from a public secondary school and one from an adult language school, are members of the Shaping the Way We Teach English webinar viewing group at the U.S. Embassy Bujumbura.
For the vast majority of Burundians, traveling to neighboring countries is extremely costly. With such meager salaries, many teachers simply cannot afford to attend conferences on the international level. “Travel in and out of the country has become increasingly difficult, so the fact that these teachers were willing and able to attend this conference is a true testament to their resolve to take advantage of the opportunity to develop themselves professionally” said Lynch.
The ATER Conference allowed the Burundian teachers to explore new teaching methods, learn about beneficial teaching resources, and network with other educators from all over Africa. The two teachers hope to create an English teachers association in Burundi in an effort to expose more English teachers in their country to new professional development opportunities. Enabling them to meet with the Rwandan association at the conference was pivotal step towards establishing a Burundian association of this nature in the future.