Polycarp is smiling at the camera with his arms raised

Teacher’s life changing experience

Part 6 of our series of  blog posts from our online exhibition highlighting the impact of mindfulness training in schools in Lira, Northern Uganda. With our support, our partner St Francis Family Helper Programme, an NGO based in Uganda, have carried out a pilot project where mindfulness training was provided for Teachers, Parents and Pupils in schools in the area. VC Staff travelled to the project to see how it’s impact has been felt. While visiting, they spoke to teachers, pupils and parents who believe that this project has transformed their lives.  The result of these conversations is a series of stories that we would like to share with you.

Teachers tells how school training changed his outlook

As we continue our series of Exhibition stories from our partner St Francis Family Helper Programme (SFFHP, Mbarara)-Uganda, we share the story of another teacher from Burlobo Rock view Primary school in Lira-Northern Uganda. The culture of schools in Uganda has always been in such a way that children do not respect but only fear their teachers. The teachers in turn do not have a calm way to interact with children and therefore there is still a huge gap. The positive Discipline in schools programme changed lives and the beneficiaries tell us the magnitude to which it positively impacted them.

Mindfulness Exercise

Polycarp is one of the teachers who participated in the “mindfulness exercise” that was carried out at Burlobo Rock view primary school-Lira and he affirms that the training positively changed his entire life.

“The mindfulness exercise has brought about a lot of changes in me; mostly at school, at home and even in the community.” Polycarp

Before the training, most of his time he tells us was filled with leisure activities and he would always drink in excess. As a teacher, he used corporal punishment-caning as a way of disciplining children. When it came to doing home chores, Polycarp believed that this was a woman’s job and therefore he did not contribute to cleaning and maintaining their home.

Polycarp sharing his story at the school premises in Lira-Northern Uganda
Polycarp sharing his story at the school premises in Lira-Northern Uganda

With the knowledge that he got from the training; Polycarp started looking at life from a different perspective. He realised that the way he was living was not the right way. He substantially reduced his alcohol intake and started practicing the positive discipline exercises that had been covered in the training.

Creating a Positive Environment

“I am creating a positive environment in which children see good standards and behaviour modelled for them. I am also teaching the children life skills – for instance, persistence, planning, thinking before acting, honesty and confidence.” 

Polycarp carrying out a mindful exercise with pupils at the school premises, Burlobo rock view primary school, Lira-Uganda

Polycarp has now started to use free and non-violent responses when reacting to anything in his life. He gives an example for when he is in for a class- teaching;

“If a child missed one of my tests, instead of beating the child, I would now opt for detention or any other positive disciplining measures which do not include physically or mentally harming the child.” Polycarp

In the community and also at home, his life has positively changed too where he now helps out his wife with house chores and shares other responsibilities around the house. The training opened his eyes and he is now aware that there is nothing wrong with a man washing clothes and undertaking other chores at home.

Improved Communication

“The training helped us, as teachers on how to communicate with everyone and also helped us solve some misunderstandings we had with the children’s parents from time to time. Before the training, the parents would talk to us, but not listen. As a result of the training, we are now dialoguing.” Polycarp

Polycarp attributes this overall change to the Viatores Christi (VC) supported training and wishes that it could also be extended to more schools. He admits that many of his colleagues in the system are still in the dark and are still using harsh methods which mentally affect children and give them a sense of fear and inferiority complex.

For more stories on the impact of mindfulness training for Teachers, Parents and Pupils in schools in Lira, Northern Uganda check out our [link] online exhibition

This project has been published by Volunteering for Humanity with the support of the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative #EUAVI