The UPM Foundation in Uruguay supports in-service training of teachers in Río Negro Department to update and strengthen their pedagogical skills.
“So far, we have discussed various topics and methods of evaluating pupils. We have also practiced new teaching methods and learned to organize students’ learning in a new way,” says history teacher Pablo Rohner, one of 28 participants in the training programme.
Rohner works in the village of Nuevo Berlín, which has a population of about 2,500. The local school has roughly 200 pupils. Participants in the two-year training programme teach their normal classes from Monday to Friday, and then travel to Fray Bentos once a month to participate in weekend workshops.
“So far, we have gained many new ideas from the training. In addition to offering practical tips, the course has provided new theoretical skills I can apply to my everyday work. The UPM Foundation’s support offers us an excellent opportunity to develop our teaching skills,” Rohner adds.
Follow-up training is hard to find in the inner parts of Uruguay, as classes focusing on pedagogical skills are usually only available in the capital. The course is the first in-service training programme offered to teachers outside Montevideo, co-organized with local education authorities and the Catholic University of Montevideo. The participating teachers range from recent graduates to experienced veterans.
Sparking interest in books
Another key project supported by the UPM Foundation is the Cuenta Quien Cuenta programme supporting new teachers in Paysandú Department. “The programme is designed to support student teachers working with children in rural areas as well as promoting literature and reading to children and their parents,” says Magdalena Ibanez, Manager of the UPM Foundation.
In 2016, nearly 40 student teachers have participated in the training, applying their new skills in practice in 16 schools in Paysandú Department. “The focus is on encouraging children to become interested in books and learn to read as early as possible, which in turn accelerates the development of their writing skills. Parents are encouraged to read stories out loud to act as role models and motivate their children,” Ibanez adds.
The programme is a great success – a survey reports that 84% of parents now read a story to their children every day. Since 2012, over 1,800 children have attended approximately 150 workshops, with almost 500 families involved.
In addition to UPM Foundation, the programme is supported by public and private organizations such as the MATE NGO, communal leaders, the teacher education institute of Paysandú and the Department’s education authorities.
Main picture: Supporting education is one of UPM Foundation’s key focus areas in Uruguay. The Foundation organizes in-service training of teachers together with local education authorities and the Catholic University of Montevideo.