An interview by Malynda Tamang

Ms. Ruth Munguti has begun the process of becoming one of SIL LEAD's first Certified Bloom Trainers. We would like to introduce her and let her tell you why she is passionate about Bloom training.

Ruth working at the recent Mozambique Bloom training event, which she facilitated.

Ruth working at the recent Mozambique Bloom training event, which she facilitated.

Ruth: I was born and brought up in Machakos County in the Eastern part of Kenya. Having lost my father at the age of 9, I grew up with normal struggles like many other children. After my secondary education, I came to the city (Nairobi) and worked in the informal sector for three years.  It was during that time that one of my employers identified my talents and paid for me to pursue a diploma in Information Technology and Management. This was a two-year program and it was what opened my doors to formal employment. My first formal job was with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), where my primary duties were to create and manage Access databases. I was involved in training staff in computer applications and created websites for one of the departments.

After two years with NMK, I got a job with SIL as an Administrative Assistant in the Project Management Office where I continued to use Access database for SIL Africa Area projects. I have worked in this department since 2002 in various capacities and am now the Project Funding Coordinator for SIL Africa Area. Besides my Project Funding role, I work as the Finance Officer for the SIL Advocacy and Alliance Building (AAB) department. I am also involved in mother-tongue materials development. While working with SIL, I completed my Bachelor of Commerce degree in Accounting/Business Administration and Management and an M.A degree in Project Planning and Management.
 

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I am married with three children, Imani (9.5 years), Baraka (7 years) and Fadhili (5 years).

Malynda: Why did you want to become certified as a Bloom Trainer?
Ruth: I have a keen interest in technology and capacity building and therefore like taking such opportunities. Having worked with Bloom before, I want to train others to use it, to enable them to produce more books for learners.  I want to take part in giving the learners the tools that will enable them to become more competent.

Malynda: What do you value most about Bloom?
Ruth: Its simplicity and availability to those who would like to make use of it. The books available in Bloom that can be downloaded for children to read as well as to be translated into other languages.

Malynda: What sort of difference do you see Bloom making?
Ruth: There are writers, young and old, who have stories written or memorized. They do not know how to get these stories to a wider audience. Bloom allows them to make these stories into books and gives them the opportunity to publish them to the Bloom Library. They can also print them out for distribution. After a Bloom training workshop that I led in Mozambique, one of the participants said, “Now I can make my own books!”

Malynda: How did the Bloom Trainer Certification process help you?
Ruth: I learned more about Bloom as I went through the certification process. There were certain aspects that I didn’t know, I had the opportunity to ask and get the answers on how to do things I wasn’t familiar with.

Malynda: How do you feel about the Bloom Trainer Certification process?
Ruth: It is important to master our skills before we start training others. When we go out to train, it is necessary to have the answers to the questions that the learners will ask. The certification process really helps equip us for the task.

Malynda: Who do you anticipate training to use Bloom?
Ruth: A number of the staff in AAB are interested in learning Bloom. I would be glad to train any other groups that have an interest in learning Bloom and using it. Bloom has been gaining popularity and it is my hope that more training opportunities will come up.

Malynda: Tell us about some exciting ideas you have about how Bloom can be used in your context.
Ruth: A few years back AAB conducted research in a number of schools in the Eastern Region of Kenya. The purpose was to find out how some Mother Tongue (MT) books were being utilised in the schools. We also wanted to asses the impact on student reading competencies.  We observed that in most of the schools that we visited, the MT books were primarily what was available for the children to practice reading.  There were few other books available, except for curriculum books. Children who had continuous exposure to MT books were gaining fluency in reading. However, most children lacked reading competency. Part of the reason for this was that they did not have enough reading materials to practice reading. Bloom is a resource that can be used in such contexts to allow children and literacy workers to write books, print them, and make them available for reading. Books available in the online Bloom Book Library can also be printed and used by these children. Community authors and literacy workers can also use Bloom to come up with simple multilingual vocabulary books for use in their communities.

Malynda:  Thank you, Ruth.  Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Ruth: I am grateful for the privilege to be part of the Bloom training team. Having gone through the certification process, I look forward to participating in future trainings and to pass on the knowledge to others.  

If you are interested in participating in the Bloom Trainer Certification, contact us at bloom@sil-lead.org

 

Posted
AuthorMalynda Tamang
CategoriesEducation

Thank you for helping SIL LEAD fund scholarships so that indigenous teachers in Peru can earn their teaching certificates so that they may continue teaching students in their mother-tongue languages!

At recess, the children get a bowl of hot milk and quinoa crackers. 

At recess, the children get a bowl of hot milk and quinoa crackers. 

I recently had the opportunity to visit with the leadership of the Asociación Indígena para el Desarollo Integral (AIDI) in Yarinacocha, Peru. SIL LEAD has partnered with AIDI to help provide scholarships to indigenous teachers who are seeking to complete their teaching certificates (títulos). While there I also visited one of the universities and a teaching institute where the scholarship recipients are studying. But the highlight of the visit was having the opportunity to see a couple of the scholarship recipients teaching students in their own language.

Having spent a few years of my youth in Yarinacocha, I was amazed by how much things have changed. Roads that were once dirt are now paved. Land that was once used for grazing cattle is now covered with houses. Sadly, most of what I knew as jungle is now gone. And everywhere I looked, people were talking on cellular phones. But in other ways, things have remained much the same.

One of the constants is that children in the Peruvian amazon are still struggling to get the education they deserve. But, thankfully, there are teachers who are striving to help these children learn. And some of these teachers recognize the importance of helping these children learn in their mother tongues as well as in Spanish.

While in Yarinacocha I witnessed Shipibo and Yine children learning in their mother tongues and in Spanish. While visiting an elementary school, I notice how the children’s eyes brightened and their smiles widened when Jeiser Suarez, the president of AIDI, spoke to them in Shipibo, his mother tongue. Their teacher, Janes Percy Cruz Laulate, also a Shipibo, is a member of AIDI.  The students celebrated our visit by singing a song in Shipibo.

Teacher: Janes Percy Cruz Laulate San José, Ucayali, Perú September 2016
Yine preschools learning to treat headaches with celery leaf paste. 

Yine preschools learning to treat headaches with celery leaf paste. 

While at a preschool for Yine children (many Yine have migrated to this area from southeastern Peru), I watched as these precious children were taught in Yine about the medicinal values of plants. After they treated each other (and themselves) to some soothing mashed up celery leaf paste on their foreheads, I became their next patient. Kelly Urquia Sebastian, a Yine who moved to Yarinacocha as a child, is one of their teachers.  She is completing her título, and once done hopes to become an elementary school teacher for Yine children.

I also had the opportunity to meet Iris Mori Cairuna. Iris is one of the newest scholarship recipients. She is already making headway on completing her título. Although Iris graduated from the Universidad Nacional Intercultural de la Amazonia (UNIA), she could not afford the additional costs associated with earning her título. Thanks to the generous donations that SIL LEAD has received in support of this scholarship program, Iris should complete her thesis and earn her título this year. Once she does, she will be able to apply for a full-time position as a bilingual elementary school teacher.

Thanks for helping to make the dream of teaching children in their own language a reality!

**A brief video with pictures related to this post can be viewed here or below.  Please be sure to turn the subtitles on in either English or Spanish if you’d like a bit of an explanation of what you are seeing.

Posted
AuthorChris Weber
CategoriesEducation